Military brass already under fire for embracing for embracing President Obama’s repeal of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ and lashing out at an anti-Islamic filmmaker is now facing more heat for targeting a highly decorated officer for teaching an approved class on radical Islam.
Lt. Col. Matthew Dooley is a 1994 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and has received commendations for exemplary service over nearly 20 years of service. However, Dooley’s career is now in shambles because he was fired from his teaching position at the Joint Forces Staff College at National Defense University and received a negative Officer Evaluation Report. His offense was to teach a course on radical Islam that was approved by military brass years earlier, but their attitude changed when Muslim organizations complained about the class.
“It was a course that had been going on at the National Defense University since 2004,” said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel at the Thomas More Law Center in Michigan. “His superiors knew what the course was all about. The first time they evaluated him…as an instructor there, they rated him outstanding, indicated that he should be moved as quickly as possible to a command position.”
Thompson says Dooley was the most popular professor at National Defense University and students specifically requested this class. He says Dooley was never alerted to any problems with the class on radical Islam until Muslim groups complained and his military superiors suddenly punished him with no warning.
“All at once, out of the blue, because of an October 2011 letter that was sent to the Department of Defense by 57 Muslim organizations saying, ‘We want all material purged of anything that is offensive to Muslims or Islam and that any of the instructors that used such training materials should be disciplined.'”
Thompson says instead of defending the course or even launching a fair investigation, the very top of the military’s chain of command simply caved to the outside pressure.
“It’s a result of that letter that Gen. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, came down, reached in and looked at that course because he got information from an individual that wasn’t even enrolled in that class,” said Thompson, who points out that Dempsey then held a televised news conference to slam the course and Lt. Col. Dooley without Dooley ever being notified of anything.
“[Dempsey] publicly excoriated Lt. Col. Dooley, who had no opportunity to defend himself at that point,” said Thompson. Dempsey also “indicated that what Lt. Col. Dooley did was offensive…unprofessional and stopped the teaching of that course, ordered another review of all courses at the National Defense University” because of those same complaints from Muslims.
Dooley is now engaged in the first stage of a two-pronged effort to exonerate himself and restore his career. Right now, he is appealing his negative Officer Evaluation Review in the military legal system, but Thompson says that effort is unlikely to succeed since Gen. Dempsey is publicly on the record supporting the negative review. So Thompson and Dooley are preparing a federal lawsuit to reverse the negative review based on Dooley’s free speech rights and the academic freedom provided through the university. Thompson says complaints about teachers or courses at National Defense University are normally handled by the provost. In this case the provost was never involved since General Dempsey acted so quickly.
As deplorable as Thompson considers the Army’s treatment of Lt. Col. Dooley, he believes the actions of Dempsey and others demonstrate a deeper problem that threatens all Americans.
“Political correctness is ruining the effectiveness of our war fighting machine,” he said. “If we cannot accurately identify who the enemy is to our own troops we will will ultimately lose that war.”
Exhibit 1 in Thompson’s argument are the 2009 Ft. Hood shootings, in which Maj. Nidal Hassan killed 13 people and wounded dozens of others while shouting praises to Allah.
“We had at the time knowledge of this major, American-born, who had gone off the reservation,” said Thompson. “None of the officers above him wanted to say anything because they were afraid they may be branded as an islamophobe. The FBI didn’t want to investigate…because they would not be considered culturally sensitive. As a result, American soldiers died and several were wounded and that’s the kind of political correctness that’s going to destroy the war-fighting ability of our combat soldiers. That’s what’s so dangerous about that.”