Stephen Coughlin Update. Here is an excellent summary piece on Coughlin's firing, its implications, and what must be done next.
Objective: The objective of this paper is to clarify the incidents surrounding the firing of Mr. Coughlin, and enumerate the implications of this event to U.S. National Security and the GWOT (Global War on Terror).
Background: Mr. Stephen Coughlin works as a contractor on the Joint Staff, J-2 (Intelligence) for the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. The Joint Staff specifically requested him because of his knowledge of Islamic Doctrine as it applies to “Jihad” and the Strategic objectives of our enemy. He is, by many accounts, the leading expert on Islamic Doctrinal drivers of Jihad within the U.S. Government, and likely, in the United States. His thesis, “To Our Great Detriment: Ignoring What Extremists Say About Jihad,” was recently accepted by the National Defense Intelligence College, and deals specifically with Islamic Doctrine dealing with doctrinal drivers of jihad, and the failure of the United States leadership to learn and understand this doctrine. He has a background in Law and international business. Mr. Coughlin is also a Major in the U.S. Army Reserves, and was activated after 9/11 to serve as a Strategic Targeting Officer for the U.S. forces. He has taught, lectured, and briefed senior members of DoD, members of Congress, senior U.S. Government officials, and many law enforcement and intelligence officers in the United States. He is a regular briefer at the Information/Operations course at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the Joint Forces Staff College. He has briefed at the Navy War College and the Marine Corps War College, and recently briefed the General Officers of I MEF, United States Marine Corps.
Event: Via a campaign undertaken by Hesham Islam, the senior advisor for International Affairs to Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, on Thursday, January 3, 2008 Mr. Coughlin was told by his employers that his contract would not be renewed due to the fact his message, and therefore he himself, had become too “politically hot.” In a meeting between Mr. Coughlin and a member of Mr. England’s staff, at which Hesham Islam unexpectedly attended, Mr. Islam asked Mr. Coughlin to “soften his message” regarding Islamic Doctrine. Mr. Coughlin refused. Islam was heard referring to Coughlin as a “Christian zealot with a poison pen.” Despite the fact that no one in his chain of command has disputed the veracity, accuracy, and balance for his thesis, lectures, or briefings, Coughlin’s employment is being terminated for speaking the truth to the Department of Defense.
Analysis: This event on its own reveals that a senior U.S. advisor is being removed from his direct and critical role in the current war in which we are engaged solely because his message was defined as “extreme” by an advisor who caters to Islamist organizations in the U.S., not because it was factually incorrect. This alone seems significantly problematic given the current war in which we are engaged. Additionally, some of the details suggest Mr. Coughlin’s civil rights, to include his First and Forth Amendment rights, as well as federal law, may have been violated, which suggests an inquiry is required. The effort to silence Mr. Coughlin came from a senior advisor to a senior U.S. official under official cover – a violation of law. Most disturbing is that Mr. Islam is associated with groups and organizations which have been designated as Muslim Brotherhood organizations within the United States. If this is in fact true, the implications are devastating.
Implications: If it is determined that Mr. Islam (whose clearances to be handling such high level issues are unsubstantiated) was acting directly or indirectly on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood or any other non-state sponsor or nation, it would indicate a direct effort to thwart the U.S. effort in fighting the war in which we are engaged by an outside entity. This is, therefore, a penetration of our government at the most senior levels. In this case we are obligated to undertake actions to determine, who is Mr. Islam, why was he hired, what are his true intentions, and are there others in our government at this level who have penetrated other U.S. government agencies.
Actions: It is recommended that the following actions be taken immediately:
1) It is imperative that an investigation be open to determine the facts of this matter. If the investigation determines the facts of the matter to be true, provide the extent of the penetration within DoD, an assessment of the damage, potential violations of federal law, and recommended changes to Department policy and procedures to prevent a recurrence.
2) Conduct closed Congressional Hearings to provide oversight of Federal Departments and Agencies, specifically DoD, DNI, FBI, CIA and DHS to determine if there has been (1) a significant penetration of US Government Departments and/or Agencies by non-state actors hostile to the United States, and (2) the ability and structure of the U.S. counterintelligence efforts to identify and prevent penetration by subversive movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood.