Army officer who taught course on radical Islam fights for his commission


Two Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Tom Rooney (FL) and Duncan Hunter Jr. (CA), sent a letter to General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, questioning why Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Dooley was given a negative evaluation report because of a course he instructed on radical Islam at the National Defense University. The report alleges that the course was offensive to Muslims and Islam. The October 10 letter says in part, “It appears that LTC Dooley led this course well within the scope of NDU's professorial guidelines, as NDU's own Faculty Handbook states: ‘Academic Freedom at National Defense University is defined as freedom to pursue and express ideas, opinions, and issues germane to the University's stated mission, free of limitations, restraints, or coercion by the University or external environment.’" The letter continued, “It is our understanding that LTC Dooley did not violate any established University practices, policies or DoD regulations to merit a negative OER.”

 The letter concerns General Dempsey and his public excoriation of LTC Dooley at a May 10 news conference claiming that Dooley’s course, ‘Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism’ at the Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC) was offensive to Muslims. According to a release from the Thomas More Law Center, Dempsey caused Dooley to be fired as an instructor, and ordered his course to be discontinued. Additionally, Dempsey ordered that all material considered offensive to Islam be scrubbed from military professional education within JFSC and elsewhere within his command.  The release also states that  Dempsey further ordered that Dooley be given a negative Officer Evaluation Report—“the death knell for a military career.”  The congressmen’s letter asks “[W]hy the DoD was compelled to further discipline LTC Dooley by jeopardizing his reputation and his future in the service.”

Elected to Congress in 2008, Rooney is a former  officer of the United States Army Staff Judge Advocate corps.  During his years in SJA he served as Special Assistant to the U.S. Attorney at Fort Hood, TX prosecuting all civilian crimes on post.  In 2002, Rooney was selected to teach Constitutional and Criminal Law at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Congressman Hunter,  before his election, served as an officer in the Marine Corps in three overseas combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dooley attended West Point and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in armor. He was later deployed to Bosnia, Kuwait and Iraq for six operational and combat tours over the course of his career.  

The Thomas More Law Center, a nonprofit public interest law firm based in Michigan, represents Dooley.   Chief Counsel Richard Thompson of the firm remarked, “The purpose of the Army is to fight and win wars.  So what happened to LTC Dooley is more than a personal miscarriage of justice.  When instructors are prohibited from teaching military officers about the true threat posed by Islamic Radicalism, it is a threat to our national security. Our warfighting potential is thus being crippled by the political correctness and appeasement of radical Muslims currently in vogue at the upper echelons of the Pentagon.” 

Dooley is the recipient of several outstanding reviews of his performance as an Army officer, as well as numerous decorations including the Bronze Star and the Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters.

Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.


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