Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq who will soon take control of Central Command, has found himself embroiled in the “ongoing conflict over religious proselytizing in the U.S. military.” Petraeus’ published endorsement of an Army Chaplain’s Spiritual Handbook for Military Personnel, in which he says “it should be in every rucksack for those times when soldiers need spiritual energy,” has led a watchdog group to call for Petraeus’ dismissal and court martial. The book’s author now claims that the endorsement wasn’t meant to be published:
But the endorsement – which has spurred a demand by a watchdog group for Petraeus’ dismissal and court martial on the grounds of establishing a religious requirement on troops – was a personal view never intended for publication, the book’s author now says.
“In the process of securing … comments for recommending the book I believe there was a basic misunderstanding on my part that the comments were publishable,” McCoy said in an Aug. 19 email to Military.com. “This was my mistake.”
Mikey Weinstein, the head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, says that it “strains credulity” that Petraeus didn’t know his private written endorsement of the book had been public since last year. But Petraeus’ spokesman Col. Steven Boylan says Petraeus was unaware because he has been in Iraq since February 2007.