Coffman says U.S. military should be purged of radical Islam sympathizers

(Yikes! Coffman still hasn’t gotten the message that he’s not in Tom Tancredo’s old district anymore, has he? – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Talk-radio host Michael Brown, of Heck’ve-a-job Brownie fame, felt no need whatsoever to challenge Rep. Mike Coffman Tues. as Coffman explained to Brown that America should have an “active counter-intelligence effort, to make sure that our [military] ranks are not infiltrated by those sympathetic to radical Islam.”

Coffman told Brown, who was filling in for Mike Rosen on KOA, that the United States has “got to do a vetting of people, a counter-intelligence, the same that we did during the Cold War and an acknowledgement that we are at war today with an ideology, and it’s cloaked in a religion called radical Islam.”

“We need that same mentality today, to have that active counter-intelligence effort, to make sure that our ranks are not infiltrated by those sympathetic to radical Islam, like Major Hasan [Fort Hood], like Private First Class Abdo. And I think that is very important. And I think that it would also help Muslim Americans who are serving, because then those soldiers, Marines, and airmen, serving alongside of them would understand that they have been vetted and that they can be trusted,” Coffman told Brown.

I had a inkling that vetting members of the armed forces, based on their religious affiliation, didn’t sound kosher in terms of the U.S. Constitution. Criminal activities I can see, but religious?

So I did what Brownie should have done, and I asked the ACLU of Colorado what it thought:


“Everyone is free to worship in this country as they choose,” Rosemary Harris Lytle, Communications Director of the ACLU of Colorado, emailed me when asked to respond to Coffman’s statement. “We also have the freedom to not choose any religion. Regardless, Article 6 of the Constitution says: ‘No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States’ — and the ACLU of Colorado would argue that this would extend to military personnel. Religious freedom is one of America’s most fundamental liberties, and a central principle upon which our nation was founded. Unfortunately, though, throughout America’s history, almost every religious group has been the target of discrimination at one point or another. Tolerance and fairness have generally prevailed, but only after principled voices have transcended prejudice and hatred. We would hope that Rep. Coffman would hear those principled voices which echo not only fairness but the spirit and letter of the Constitution itself.”

I asked Brownie if he was concerned about the civil liberties of Muslims serving in the military.

“No,” Brownie emailed back. “America is at war with radical Islam and nothing in the Constitution would prohibit this kind of inquiry, any more than inquiries by the FBI, CIA, DoD, DoE, NSA or other departments and agencies through which I had TS/SCI clearances violated my Constitutional rights by making inquiries regarding activities which would have precluded me from receiving those clearances…. all military personnel should be “vetted” similar to those who seek clearances.  If they don’t meet a comparable standard they should not be permitted to serve in the military.  Just as we have physical requirements we can Constitutionally impose counter-intelligence standards which could preclude someone, including a U.S. citizen, from serving in the military.”

Miguel Ali Hasan, the award-winning film maker who ran for State Treasurer in 2010 and has defended Muslims against bigoted attacks, pointed out via email:


“Of the 56 Muslim countries out there, 53 of them have worked as our allies, in sharing intelligence against Al-Qaida and/or arresting terrorists,” Hasan emailed me in response to my query. “Muslims, especially American Muslims, are our finest ally and weapon within the War On Terror. There are tens of thousands of American Muslims serving in our U.S. Armed Forces today, coupled with the plethora of Muslim countries that are helping us – help which didn’t come as a result of silly ‘affirmations,’ but through trust and cohesion. Congressman Coffman is terribly misguided if he is going to allow the actions of one lunatic (Nadel Hasan) tarnish America’s best weapon within the War On Terror.”

Coffman told Brown that vetting Muslims in the U.S. military would actually help develop trust in the military and help Muslims from becoming “radicalized.”

Coffman said:


“And also it would prevent Muslim Americans from becoming radicalized once they are in the military because of the fact that they would be trusted because they have been vetted…. I served in ground combat units in both the United States Army and Marine Corps. And those relationships between the soldiers and Marines on the ground is basically developing an interdependent bond and trust. And if that trust isn’t there, my concern is that, if you have Muslim-American soldiers and Marines, that they are going to be alienated by virtue of the fact that they are not vetted under the current system, and there rises questions about trust. And that could lead to alienation of those soldiers and Marines. And through that there could be an attraction to becoming radicalized.”

I asked Brownie why he didn’t challenge Coffman on this extreme proposal.

“I’m wondering why you call it an “extreme” proposal,” he responded. “It is not extreme, it is practical and reasonable under the circumstances.”

Coffman told Brownie he had nothing against Muslims.

“I am not against Muslim Americans,” Coffman said. “Let me tell you. I served in Iraq with the United States Marine Corps and Muslim Americans served in the military and served with distinction there and were important to our war effort.”

Back in November of last year, Coffman went further, stating on KHOW’s Caplis and Silverman show that Muslims in the U.S. military “would welcome being vetted so that their fellow soldiers knew, and Marines knew on the ground, that they had no sympathies to radical Islam.” [Listen to the audio here.]

And guess what. Coffman walked away from that radio show, too, unruffled, as if he had said something that was completely in step with the core American value of religious freedom.

Coffman on KOA’s Mike Rosen Show Dec. 13, 2011:

Coffman on KHOW’s Caplis and Silverman Show Nov. 24, 2010:

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23 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. ProgressiveCowgirl says:

    (shamelessly stolen from Islamic Reddit, which is a hella cool place to expand your brainparts if you’re a bigot like Coffman who doesn’t get that people are people.)

  2. DaftPunk says:

    At the Halal butcher shops in CD6.

  3. Lurker19 says:

    he’s still playing to his base.  He needs time to think up lies to tell the rest of us in CD-06.

    Plus, by going after Islam, he’s trying to appeal to the browns, because, see, he’s not attacking them (at least not right now).

  4. Diogenesdemar says:

    that’s just what this country needs to go with our post 9/11 thinking bigotry, some of tha good old-timey cold-war mentality.

    I can’t believe I’m writing this, but right now I’m kind of loving the realignment that put me in Gardner’s district. What a maroon . . .  

  5. Gray in Mountains says:

    especially we need to go after the Muslims who have abortions and want to outlaw gun rights

  6. Pam Bennett says:

    I have written quite a few snarky comments regarding this post. I have deleted all of them.

    I feel sorry for Coffman; I feel sorry for the military that has been politicized by Bush and company, and forced to endure becoming a religious test for fear and hate mongers.

    That Coffman would put forth such a divisive idea; an idea that creates a false impression of a religion, is bad. It is as bad an idea as that used to round up all Japanese in the U.S. at the start of WWII.

    That he is willing to pander and move himself in to the mud is a shame. But, if he believes this crap – that is his choice. He was, as Newt puts it, making his own choice.

  7. BlueCat says:

    other than what a really swell idea it is to demonstrate to young Muslim Americans that it isn’t just a minority of stupid, bumpkin bigots they have to deal with but that these stupid bumpkin bigots have the full weight of official government policy behind them. What a great recruiting tool for the few dangerous radicals to use:  See? We told you the US is seeking to eradicate Islam, will always view you as less loyal than other American citizens and is looking for excuses to persecute you. Great idea.

  8. Pita says:

    They actually believe. It isn’t political rhetoric to them, it’s the gospel; the Holy grail.  Nothing scarier than a religious warrior on a crusade, I don’t care who you worship.  

  9. Aristotle says:

    And yes, I know, technically this is creed baiting.

  10. harrydoby says:

    Wow!  Not only is Coffman happy to invoke the imagery of the Cold War era and the ugliness of McCarthyism, but you could substitute any other class (gay, black, brown, yellow, female, …) in his call for action, and see it for the pure bigotry that it is.

    “And also it would prevent (Targeted Minority) from becoming radicalized once they are in the military because of the fact that they would be trusted because they have been vetted…. I served in ground combat units in both the United States Army and Marine Corps. And those relationships between the soldiers and Marines on the ground is basically developing an interdependent bond and trust. And if that trust isn’t there, my concern is that, if you have (Targeted Minority) soldiers and Marines, that they are going to be alienated by virtue of the fact that they are not vetted under the current system, and there rises questions about trust. And that could lead to alienation of those soldiers and Marines. And through that there could be an attraction to becoming radicalized.”

    What Coffman seems to be ignoring is that soldiers do get vetted when they get their clearances.  I’ll never forget when a co-worker of mine and I both went for ours, mine came through in the usual time.  Hers, because she was from Hong Kong, and had relatives in the PRC, took about 3 time longer.

    • BlueCat says:

      main stream culture soldiers and marines might be jerks to (Targeted Minority), (Targeted Minority) should subject themselves to extra scrutiny in self defense, putting the burden on them, American citizens with exactly the same rights as any citizen of any religion, race or ethnicity,  to defend themselves but none on the stupid bigots who don’t trust them.  

      And this is somehow supposed to make it harder for radicals to convince them that they will never be accepted as true Americans. Brilliant. Now how about all those soldiers and vets who have  gone postal even though they are nice, white Christian back background real Americans.  

      Back in the day, would  Coffman have recommended Jewish soldiers be subjected to extra scrutiny to prove they weren’t using the blood of Christian children in Passover rituals in self defense, for their own good, so that ignorant anti-Semites would be able to better trust them? That Italian’s be vetted for Mafia ties? That Catholics be vetted for ties to the Pope? How about extra vetting for white Christians so their Latino and African American comrades in arms can trust them not to be White Supremacists.

      Of course, as harrydoby points out , there isn’t any need for extra vetting for Muslims.  Just the same reasonable level of vetting for everyone.

  11. ArapaGOP says:

    Most Americans are NOT with the liberals. In order to get a security clearance, you have to pass a background check that looks at much more than your religion. But as for religion, radicalism of any stripe is enough to disqualify.

    With an all volunteer military, we can afford to screen applicants to ensure they are not poison pills for the very terrorists we are training them to fight. My volunteering, they are agreeing to that higher level of scrutiny. I don’t see why this is a controversy.

  12. ScottP says:

    Maybe they should stockpile some ammo and food and go hide in a bunker somewhere.

    Seriously, Al-Qaeda has hated us for over 10 years! Our troops work next to “Radical Muslims” every day in Afghanistan!

    One bitter soldier uses Al-Qaeda’s beliefs as his excuse to kill people and now they want to subject Muslim Americans to more scrutiny? I call bullshit!

    What about the one right-wing, Christian jackass who killed over 70 poeple in Norway? Should we scrutinize all right-wing Christians more then because of him? After all, it is a global war on terror.

    • GalapagoLarry says:

      scrutinize all right-wing Christians

      And right wing everythingelses, too. And demand their citizenship papers and voter identification, and make them take drug tests before they cash their paychecks, and force them to mate with someone they’re not attracted to, and make sure they and their doctors make only medical decisions we appprove of and make sure they live their old ages in poverty and drop their kids into a foreign country and then make sure the kids are hounded all their lives. But, most of all, we should draft them to fight all the wars they’re so damned anxious to start. And then scrutinize the hell out of them to make sure they act like Muslims or Jews or Budhists or non-theists or…or…or Episcopalians.

      Onward, Christian soldiers!

  13. Diogenesdemar says:

    “Nero says Roman Legions must be purged of radical Christian sympathizers”

    So many Republican historians, so few well-educated students . . .  

  14. Ray Springfield says:

    Where wil counter intelligence agents come from?

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