Officers' role in Christian video probed
WASHINGTON - The Army and Air Force are considering
disciplinary action against seven officers — including
four generals — who violated ethics rules by assisting
a Christian group in the production of a fundraising
The Pentagon inspector general found the officers were
interviewed in uniform and "in official and often
identifiable Pentagon locations," according to a
They made comments that "conferred approval of and
support" to the evangelical group, Christian Embassy,
"and the remarks of some officers implied they spoke
for a group of senior military leaders rather than
just for themselves," the report stated.
None of the Army and Air Force officers involved asked
for or received approval from their superiors to
participate in the interview in an official capacity
or in uniform, according to the inspector general's
report, which was released last week.
The report recommended that senior military leaders
consider "appropriate corrective action" against the
Lt. Col. Linda Haseloff, an Air Force spokeswoman,
said Monday the service is still studying the report
"and no additional information can be provided at this
Army spokesman Paul Boyce said the report is being
reviewed by legal staff and no decisions would be made
until they are done.
According to the group's Web site, Christian Embassy
is a nonprofit, nonpolitical organization that "seeks
to help diplomats, government leaders and military
officers find real and lasting purpose through faith
Christian Embassy holds prayer meetings each Wednesday
morning at the Pentagon.
The inspector general's report reveals a "long and
deep collusion with a fundamentalist, religious
missionary organization," Michael Weinstein, president
of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said in
Weinstein wants Congress to hold oversight hearings
over the Defense Department's failure to separate
"church and state."
Among the officers cited in the report are Army Brig.
Gens. Vincent Brooks, deputy commanding general of the
1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas, and Robert
Caslen, commandant of cadets at the U.S. Military
Air Force Maj. Gens. Peter Sutton and John Catton also
appeared in the video.
Sutton, who has retired, and Caslen "accepted full
responsibility for their actions and committed to be
more alert to ethical issues in the future," according
to the report.
Brooks told investigators he believed he did not
violate any rules. Due to Christian Embassy's long
tenure of working with Pentagon employees, Brooks said
he saw the group "as a sanctioned or endorsed
Catton's response was similar. Christian Embassy had
become a "quasi-federal entity," he told
investigators, and he believed he was taking part in a
program approved by the Defense Department.
Catton is director of requirements at Air Combat
Command, Langley Air Force Base, Va.
Retired Army Col. Ralph Benson, former Pentagon
chaplain, was criticized for allowing Christian
Embassy to film inside the Pentagon. Benson, the
report said, misrepresented "the purpose and proponent
of the video."
The names of the other two officers were redacted from
Cleared of any impropriety was Army Secretary Pete
Geren and an unnamed civilian Army employee.
Investigators said while Geren and the employee
"provided personal endorsements of Christian Embassy,
they did so without verbal or visual references to
position, title or DOD."