The US Air Force Academy announced that Col Linell Letendre was the sole “finalist” to become the next Dean of Faculty at USAFA:
“This is wonderful news for our cadets, our faculty, and our Academy,” said Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria. “Linell’s leadership and commitment to world-class education and leader development will be invaluable to the USAFA team. She has a tremendous perspective that will integrate and elevate our institution and our Air Force leaders of tomorrow.”
The elevation of Col Letendre, a USAF JAG, to Permanent Professor and Department Head was highlighted here four years ago, largely because of her public record on issues of religious liberty within the Air Force. She was, for example, one of a few Air Force lawyers who advised the Air Force on Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s complaints against ChristianFighterPilot.com. She has reportedly towed the Read more
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein celebrated yesterday after his complaint resulted in a Peterson Air Force Base officer having a Bible removed from his desk. As cited by Fox News:
“[The Bible] is very obviously a statement of Christian preference, Christian primacy,” MRFF founder Mikey Weinstein told me. “Had that been the Book of Satan or the Koran there would be blood in the freaking streets.”
He accused Maj. Steve Lewis, a supervisor at the Reserve National Security Space Institute, of “harboring and encouraging a truly abhorrent example of First Amendment civil rights violations.”
To be fair, Mikey Weinstein has been after Bibles-on-desks for a long time. It’s just that for years the Air Force has been telling him to take a hike:
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., asked James if it’s acceptable for an airman to have a Bible on his desk…
James told Vitter: “Having a Bible on your desk, that doesn’t seem like it should be banned.”
Air Force spokeswoman LtCol Laura Tingley: “I can tell you that military members are allowed to have religious materials on their desks.”
(The Air Force issued some of these statements and Read more
USAF LtCol Linell Letendre has been named as a new permanent professor to “lead the law department” for the US Air Force Academy:
“Lt. Col. Letendre’s selection for permanent professor indicates the trust placed in her by those who lead our nation,” said Brig. Gen. Andrew Armacost, the Academy’s dean of the faculty. “Her impeccable record of service and dedication to education will strengthen the Academy and nation as we strive to develop leaders of character.”
Ordinarily such a staffing decision hardly rates notice, much less an official press release, but the status of permanent professor at a military academy requires Senate approval and bestows a permanent rank of Colonel, making it somewhat notable.
Potentially more notable, however, are LtCol Letendre’s unique qualifications. Far from being an unknown JAG, Letendre has become a veritable “go to” legal officer in cases involving religion or homosexuality (or both).
In 2007, she and retired US Army Major David Fitzkee (also a USAFA law professor) co-authored a paper in the Air Force Law Review entitled “Religion in the Military: Navigating the Channel Between the Religion Clauses“. This paper was called a “definitive work” on the subject. As noted previously, Fitzkee wrote an abridged and updated version of this same article in 2012, and both works contained strong positive and strong negative statements on regarding military religious freedom.
Their paper was subsequently published again in Attitudes Aren’t Free, a collection put together by then-LtCol James Parco (an avowed supporter of Michael “Mikey” Weinstein and frequent critic of Christians in the US Air Force).
Letendre was also the legal advisor to US Army General Carter Ham while he was co-chair of the controversial Comprehensive Review Working Group tasked to assess the impact of repealing the policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Letendre’s advice Read more
David Fitzkee (Maj, USA, Retired) is a law professor at the US Air Force Academy. In the fall of 2011 he had an article published in Parameters (vol. 41, no. 3), (“The US Army’s Senior Professional Journal”) entitled “Religious Speech in the Military: Freedoms and Limitations.”
The 14-page essay is an interesting read, and it opens with a strong premise:
It is crucial that military leaders understand and respect the scope of religious speech rights. Honoring the constitutional rights of subordinates is inherently the “right thing to do” in a society and military governed by the rule of law, particularly when all military leaders take an oath to support the Constitution.
Unfortunately, the very next paragraph of the introduction sets a poor tone for the paper:
Failure to understand the rights and limits concerning religious speech can adversely affect the mission…It can result in internal investigations into allegations of violations or even lawsuits against the military, both of which entail substantial time, effort, and distraction from the mission.
Maj Fitzkee aptly notes that “investigations into allegations of violations” can “distract from the mission” — but he illogically assumes Read more
The 2012 National Character and Leadership Symposium at the US Air Force Academy will be held from 22 to 24 February. Ross Perot will be the keynote speaker.
Other speakers will come from a variety of backgrounds and careers, including a Medal of Honor recipient and
- Retired Brigadier General Dick Abel, former President of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and former Executive Director of the Military Ministry of Read more