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Officers grilled for work with religous group

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POSTED: August 28, 2007 5:03 a.m.
A former popular Fort Stewart brigade commander, Brig. Gen. Vince Brooks, is among seven Army and Air Force officers being considered for disciplinary action for violating ethics rules by assisting a Christian group in the production of a fundraising video.
The Pentagon inspector general says the officers were interviewed in uniform and “in official and often identifiable Pentagon locations,” according to a 45-page report.
Brooks commanded the 3rd ID’s First Brigade Combat Team on a six-month deployment to Kosovo in 2001. He was subsequently chief of public affairs of the Army and is now deputy commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas,
The report said the officers 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, which was released last week, recommended the military consider “appropriate corrective action” against the officers.
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 time.”
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 and encouragement.”
Christian Embassy holds prayer meetings each Wednesday morning at the Pentagon.
The IG’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 a statement.
Weinstein wants Congress to hold oversight hearings over the Defense Department’s failure to separate “church and state.”
Besides Brooks, officers cited in the report include Army Brig. Gen. Robert Caslen, commandant of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy.
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 activity.”
 

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