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Inspector General to Investigate General's Comments

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 21, 2003 – A military inspector general will investigate controversial comments about religion and the war on terrorism made by a high-ranking defense official.

Army Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, has come under fire for comments he allegedly made to religious groups in the past. Some have said his comments are offensive to Muslims and define the war on terrorism in religious terms.

Rumsfeld announced the pending IG review in a Pentagon press briefing today, and provided few details, noting only that Boykin asked for the inquiry.

"Gen. Boykin has requested that an inspector general review this matter," Rumsfeld said. "And I have indicated that if that's his request, I think it's appropriate."

It is not clear yet whether the Army or DoD IG, or both, will carry out the investigation. Nor is it clear exactly what issues will be looked into. Rumsfeld said he has not seen Boykin's comments and declined to defend or denounce them.

President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have consistently emphasized that America is not fighting Muslims, but only extremists who use terrorism as a tool or who support terrorists.

Marine Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he has spoken to Boykin recently and is confident his fellow general "does not see this battle as a battle between religions."

He said Boykin wishes he had chosen his words more carefully. "He sees it as a battle between good and evil," Pace said of Boykin. "He sees it as the evil being the acts of individuals, not the acts of any religion or affiliation with religion."

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