The Same General Boykin?

The Pentagon official, an evangelical, was nearly fired for insulting Islam. So far, conservative Christians stand by him.

BY: Deborah Caldwell


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The program, according to Hersh's reporting, soon evolved from targeting not only Al Qaeda but also a wide range of Iraqi prisoners. Hersh writes:

By fall, according to the former intelligence official, the senior leadership of the CIA had had enough. "They said, `No way. We signed up for the core program in Afghanistan-pre-approved operations against high-value terrorist targets-and now you want to use it for cabdrivers, brothers-in-law, and people pulled of the streets,' the sort of prisoners who populate the Iraqi jails."

Cambone told a Congressional committee last week that neither he nor Boykin thought they were giving the go-ahead for military police to abuse prisoners. Boykin himself has not testified and declined to be interviewed for this article.

In addition to adding another wrinkle to the diplomatic catastrophe of this scandal--many Muslims overseas already believe Americans are engaging in an anti-Islam crusade--it raises difficult political and moral questions for conservative Christians. Last fall, they stoutly defended Boykin, and by extension President Bush, yet they also condemn abuse and torture.

So far, Christian leaders are standing by Boykin.

"A lot of our people are just so tired of hearing about that whole situation, especially now that we've seen [the beheading of Nicholas Berg]," Michele Ammons, spokeswoman for the Christian Coalition, said last week. "I think it's time to get over it. And that's what I'm hearing."

Ammons, who said evangelical leaders have been consumed primarily with the gay marriage debate, added that the Christian Coalition would keep an

online petition in support of Boykin

on its homepage.

Angell Watts, spokeswoman for Pat Robertson, said that although "the troops messed up big time," the "liberal media" are overplaying it. "I was more disgusted at the beheading of Nick Berg," she said. "Look at what we're dealing with."

As for Boykin? Watts said that if Boykin knew about the abuses, "he has to be held accountable...Christians are held to a higher standard." Although Watts said she doesn't believe Rumsfeld or Boykin knew about the abuses, "if I'm wrong, I'll grieve over that."

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