On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, Mitt Romney told a crowd of supporters in Van Meter, Iowa a story about an interesting Christmas party he and his wife attended in San Diego several years ago. According to his story, presidential candidate Romney had the chance opportunity to meet and even the time to "learn about" a very special former U.S. Navy SEAL. Romney did not mention the man's name during the campaign event in Van Meter, but the Romney campaign later confirmed the former Navy SEAL was Glen Doherty, 42, one of the four Americans killed in the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, along with the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens. The Romney campaign said that Romney met Doherty in 2009 or 2010, and that Romney did not know for sure that the man he met at the Christmas party a few years ago was the same man killed in Libya until a neighbor contacted Romney to inform him in the past few days.
I had the extreme good fortune, honor and privilege to work alongside Glen for years as a longtime member of the Advisory Board of the four-time, Nobel Peace Prize-nominated, civil rights charitable organization I founded and currently serve as president of called the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). We currently are assisting over 30,000 American military personnel fighting against Christian fundamentalist religious extremism in our own armed forces. Glen selflessly served as a passionate, 'round-the-clock' supporter of MRFF based on his fervent belief in its mission to protect the secular nature of the U.S. Military and the imperative this secular nature has to our national security. Separation of church and state in the United States military was not a trivial matter for Glen. It was his mantra.
Based upon our profound, mutual working experiences with MRFF, I'm truly fascinated about what Mitt Romney actually "learned about him". During his chance meeting with Glen at that Christmas party a few years ago, did candidate Romney learn about his close personal and professional relationship with MRFF? Other fascinating learning opportunities for Mr. Romney regarding Glen's deep support of and belief in MRFF and what we stand for may have revealed to him some very "uncomfortable" facts about the life of this true American Hero. Did Romney learn that Glen, as a trusted and close board advisor to me and MRFF, fully supported:
- exposing and demanding the removal of New Testament biblical citations on defense contractor Trijicon's ACOG rifle scopes issued on almost a million military weapons;
- repeatedly exposing and then demanding the end to the practice of U.S. Military officers requiring participation of subordinates in mandatory religious events;
- ending the invitation of anti-Muslim and Islamophobic speakers to U.S. Military training events;
- exposing the practice of encouraging our service members to proselytize Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan and numerous other attempts to transform U.S. service members into "government paid missionaries" and the U.S. Military into the most powerfully weaponized and lethal, sectarian religious mission in the history of mankind;
- ending the practice of gauging a service member's "fitness" to serve in the U.S. Military on 'Spiritual Factors';
- exposing and ending efforts of virulent proselytizing and retribution at the U.S. Military Academies;-exposing and achieving removal of "End Times" religious content in required training curriculum for U.S. Air Force nuclear missile launch officers;
- repeatedly intervening on behalf of tens of thousands of service members standing up for their 1 Amendment civil right to refuse to observe forced prayers in mandatory U.S. Military ceremonies;-exposing and forcing removal of a mandatory chapel attendance policy within the U. S. Air Force Squadron Officer School;
-exposing and forcing removal of Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC) training program advocating waging 'Total War', including the use of nuclear weapons, against innocent Muslim civilian populations; and finally (in an issue discussed extensively between Glen and myself only a few days before Glen retuned to Libya)
- providing the driving force and impetus to the recent adoption on August 7, 2012 of 'Government Neutrality Regarding Religion' Standards in Air Force Instruction 1-1, Section 2.11 by the United States Air Force Chief of Staff thus creating for the very first time under the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) the possibility of criminal prosecution for failing to maintain religious neutrality within the U.S. Air Force.
I would actually be impressed if candidate Romney had taken the opportunity to "learn" about the importance in which Glen held even one of these accomplishments. I would hazard a guess that candidate Romney would have gladly and conveniently relegated learning any of these facts about Glen to the 'memory hole' had he actually taken the time to truly learn about who Glen Doherty was or what he stood for.
As informed citizens of the United States, we are all too aware of the rampant grandiose hyperbole generated as a result of our political campaigns. This absolutely disgusting, opportunistic travesty however was so much more, and so much lower, than the usual political 'pablum' that courses through our normal campaign emissions. This "performance" was simply naked and shameful exploitation of the life and memory of an actual American Hero. Romney did not "know" Glen. His insinuation that he somehow had a connection to Glen is disingenuous at best and a naked lie at worst. It is bold and bald untruthfulness. As Alfred Tennyson said, "A lie that is half truth is the darkest of all lies." A timely and heartfelt apology is truly in order here.
Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, Esq. is a former White House counsel in the Reagan Administration and served as the Committee Management Officer of the much-publicized White House "Iran-Contra" Investigation. He is also the former General Counsel to Texas billionaire and two-time presidential candidate H. Ross Perot and Perot Systems Corporation. Mikey is an honor graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and a former Judge Advocate General in the U.S. Air Force. His two sons, daughter-in-law, son-in law, and brother-in-law are also graduates of the U.S. Air Force Academy. He is the author of the recently released book "No Snowflake in an Avalanche: The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, Its Battle To Defend The Constitution and One Family's Courageous War Against Religious Extremism in High Places" (Vireo, 2012).