Thomas More Law Center Representing Matthew Dooley in Anti-Islam Army Training Course Controversy

From the website of the Thomas More Law Center:

The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, announced today that it is representing U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Dooley, a 1994 Graduate of the U. S. Military Academy at West Point.  In April 2012, LTC Dooley, a highly decorated combat veteran, was publically condemned by General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and relieved of his teaching assignment because of the negative way Islam was portrayed in an elective course entitled, Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism.

I discussed the case here; the content of Dooley’s course came to widespread attention following reports in Wired, which described Dooley as part of “a small cabal of self-anointed counterterrorism experts [that] has been working its way through the U.S. military, intelligence and law enforcement communities”.

The Thomas More Law Center claims that Dooley is in fact the victim of an Islamic conspiracy, and – quoting “former CIA agent” Claire Lopez – that Dempsey has given “Muslim Brotherhood-dictated orders”:

The actions against LTC Dooley, an instructor involved with this elective, follow a letter to the Department of Defense dated October 19, 2011 and signed by 57 Muslim organizations, demanding that all training materials that they judge to be offensive to Islam be “purged” and instructors “are effectively disciplined.”

I’ve been unable to find any details of this “letter”, and Dempsey’s memorandum on the subject of 24 April 2012 suggests that Dooley in fact came under scrutiny for other reasons:

Last October, in response to media attention surrounding the FBI’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) training and related DoD lecturers, OSD asked the Joint Staff to task the Combatant Commands, Services, National Guard Bureau, and other components to determine the current processes used to vet CVE training and educations.

I discussed this “media attention” on the FBI here. Further, there had been complaints about the quality of Dooley’s course by some of those who had attended it; Wired reported:

[Lt. Gen George] Flynn [Dempsey’s deputy for training and education] disclosed that since an unspecified “revision” of the course in the summer of 2011, multiple officers who attended the course had raised internal objections about its presentation of Islam and Muslims. He estimated that about 20 officers attend each eight-week elective course, which is offered four times a year.

Flynn said he heard about the objectionable material on Friday after a colonel enrolled in the course complained about the anti-Islam lessons. “We looked at it and we found the material to be objectionable and we started digging into it to see, how did the course get this way?” Flynn said.

The course, which included guest lectures from the likes of Stephen Coughlin and John Guandolo, allegedly urged “total war” on Islam and suggested that Obama is a secret Muslim.

The TMLC now writes that:

Parroting the FBI’s reason, namely, “political sensitivity” as the reason for not thoroughly investigating Army Major Nidal Hasan, which  ultimately led to the Ft. Hood Massacre, General Dempsey on 24 April 2012 ordered a review of instruction that was “disrespectful of the Islamic religion” to ensure “cultural sensitivity.”

Certainly, Dempsey would have done better to avoid mentioning “sensitivity” and “respect”, which ought not to be the guiding principles of academic enquiry; but it’s clear that the main problem with Dempsey’s course was an excessively unbalanced polemical approach which meant that the course was not fit for purpose.

The reference to the FBI is also distorted: you would think from the above that the FBI had offered “political sensitivity” as a justification for its failures over Hasan, and that Dempsey was concurring in this as a reasonable excuse. This is not in fact the case. Rather, the Final Report of the William H. Webster Commission contains a few references to a Washington DC Task Force Officer who had described Hasan as “politically sensitive”, and congressman Frank Wolf had subsequently noted that:

After reading the report, I am concerned that there were warning signs, and that with more aggressive investigation, there is a chance that this incident could have been prevented.  I am further concerned that the reason for less aggressive investigation may have been political sensitivities in the Washington Field Office, and maybe even the FBI’s own investigating guidelines.

Clearly, a excessive concern for “sensitivity” is a bad thing – but that hardly means that the intellectual and quality problems with Dooley’s course should be ignored.

The TMLC also complains that Dempsey’s comments have been prejudicial:

Despite a preliminary inquiry that confirmed the purely notional, conceptual, and theoretical nature of LTC Dooley’s class, General Dempsey’s implication, before the inquiry was complete, that Dooley formally advocated actions outside of U.S. policy was both premature and inaccurate. 

Presumably this relates to the course’s “total war” content, as described by Wired:

…Dooley lays out a possible four-phase war plan to carry out a forced transformation of the Islam religion… International laws protecting civilians in wartime are “no longer relevant,” Dooley continues. And that opens the possibility of applying “the historical precedents of Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki” to Islam’s holiest cities, and bringing about “Mecca and Medina[‘s] destruction.”

Back in May, I noted another case involving the TMLC, concerning the bogus self-proclaimed “ex-terrorist” Kamal Saleem. Despite making pious noises about the First Amendment, the TMLC claims that a letter sent to a school district urging the cancellation of a speech by Saleem on school property amounted to interference with a contract and is therefore actionable. According to a recent report, some of the defendants, including People for the American Way, requested summary dismissal in August; the article adds that “no hearing dates are set in the case.”

(Hat tip: Right Wing Watch)

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