Air Force Academy, citing “privacy,” angrily refuses to discuss anti-gay bias on campus

In a defensive, and at times outright angry, conference call with reporters this afternoon, the Air Force Academy admitted that its press release yesterday describing a meeting the superintendent of the academy, Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, had with gay cadets this week was not entirely accurate.

In that release, the academy claimed that the cadets expressed no concerns about any anti-gay culture on campus, or about anything else, other than a supposed concern that the media coverage of the story was hurting the academy.

But then, during the conference call, some cadets slipped and admitted that other concerns were raised during the meeting with Gen. Johnson.  And then they admitted to even more concerns.  And that’s when the academy’s media representatives finally snapped.

When confronted with the fact that the academy had just admitted that, in fact, concerns about being gay at the academy were raised by gay cadets with General Johnson, academy representatives invoked “privacy” and angrily shut down any discussion of what those concerns were, saying they weren’t going to air their “dirty laundry” on a conference call the academy set up to discuss the fact that no concerns were raised at the meeting.  At one point, the academy media rep even threatened to shut down the entire press conference.

Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, Superintendent of the US Air Force Academy

Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, Superintendent of the US Air Force Academy

It was a strange call, to put it mildly.

The call was held after it was reported the Air Force Academy hired an ex-gay “cure” expert

A good number of local and national media was there, including Buzzfeed and Stars & Stripes.

Chris Geidner of Buzzfeed in particular got into a pointed discussion with the academy representative, after the academy rep accused me of being “unprofessional” for pointing out the fact that they were all contradicting each other. (More on that below, including a transcript.)

Taking a step back for a moment.  This issue arose when we broke the story earlier this week that the Air Force Academy hired a nearly 20-year expert in “curing” homosexuality to head up their character and leadership coaching program that all cadets are required to go through.

The controversy over that issue grew to the point where General Johnson called in a group of two dozen or so gay cadets to ask if there were any concerns about homophobia in cadet culture generally, and from fellow cadets.  Multiple sources confirm that the overwhelming majority of gay cadets present at that meeting expressed their concerns about cadet culture being anti-gay.

In spite of this fact, the Air Force Academy issued a press release yesterday (Thursday) morning, claiming that no concerns were raised about any problem gay cadets have had on campus.  None.

Well, the academy admitted that there was one concern the cadets allegedly raised repeatedly – they were worried that all these media stories about anti-gay bias at the academy would hurt the academy’s recruitment.  (One source has already said that, in fact, no cadet raised that concern at the meeting.)

Air Force Academy claimed no concerns were raised at meeting with general

Here’s the salient parts of the academy’s release from yesterday about the meeting the gay cadets had with the general earlier in the week:

In that forum, the cadets expressed to Academy leaders that they are proud to be in the Air Force and do not feel like the Air Force Academy culture inhibits them in any way.  Rather, they expressed their concerns about the media reports and how those reports may affect the decision of young Americans to attempt to come to the Academy.

One attendee at the forum was Air Force Capt. Michelle L. Reinstatler, an Instructor, Department of English and Fine Arts, and the Officer in Charge of Spectrum.

“During the forum with leadership, the cadets of Spectrum expressed multiple times that the Academy is a safe and validating place to be LGBQ,” Capt. Reinstatler said.  ”Several cadets have told me they are frustrated with the articles disparaging USAFA; these articles do not take into account the extensive support our LGBQ cadets have received from Academy leadership or the reality of the Academy’s inclusive environment.” [emphasis added]

We also learned during the call that Capt. Reinstatler is straight.  She’s also not the head of the gay group.  She’s the equivalent of the faculty adviser.  But you’ll note how the press release doesn’t say that, and that it leads you to believe that she’s a lesbian and that she runs the group – after all, why would the only person quoted with any affiliation to the gay group, in a release about how the gay cadets have no problems at the academy, be a heterosexual who is only the faculty adviser and not the head of the group or even a cadet?

I asked the cadets if the release was accurate, that no concerns were raised at the meeting

As for the substance of the release, the phrase “the culture doesn’t inhibit them in any way” caught my eye.  So I asked the cadets, and Capt. Reinstatler, to re-validate that claim, since I had multiple sources saying multiple concerns were raised at the meeting about being gay at the academy.

The cadet, named Carol (no last names were divulged), who responded to me said only three concerns were raised at the meeting with the general, and I quote verbatim:

“Sir, this is Carol speaking. These were the concerns addressed at that meeting:”

“1. Would these articles that were written hurt recruitment of possible high school students interested in the academy because they had the incorrect perception of the academy and how they treated LGBQ cadets.”

“2.  Also how can we increase training at the academy so the faculty… can be more aware of the situations that go on in the LGBQ community.”

3. “The other issue that was raised by the cadets was, we didn’t want those articles to disparage the academy, and we wanted to put our voice forward.”

(Remember how earlier the “only” concern raised was the media. Now there was another concern, apparently, and it actually dealt with gay issues.) So I had an immediate follow-up question:

ME: So no one’s been having problems being gay there at all?

ACADEMY REP: That’s not what she’s trying to say, we don’t know every….

ME: Did it come up or not? My question was did this come up or not during, that people have concerns about being gay at the academy?


Then Capt. Reinstatler weighed in:

Air Force Capt. Michelle L. Reinstatler

Air Force Capt. Michelle L. Reinstatler

CAPT. REINSTATLER: In fact, Carol is totally correct about the things that were brought up. None of the cadets particularly expressed issues that they had being gay at the academy.

A few did bring up some issues that they had, that were being fielded and worked on by their leadership.  And that they felt that they were being cared for, and that taking into consideration. This meeting that Gen. Johnson and the rest of the leadership came down to take about, was to make sure that the cadets of Spectrum (the academy gay group) felt cared for and loved….

There we no particular concerns of being gay at the academy brought up by any of the cadets.

So there were no issues, but there were some issues, and those issues were being dealt with, but let me close by saying there were no issues.

I pointed out in the next round of questioning that we had a bit of a contradiction here as:

1. The academy press release claimed that the only issue that came up during the meeting with the general was the cadets’ supposed-concern that the media coverage was hurting the academy.

2. But then, Cadet Carol admits that a second issue did in fact come up, about how to increase training (a sort of gay sensitivity training, I’m told).

3. When I followed up and asked if anyone raised any other issues about having problems being gay at the academy, I was told “no.”

4. Then Capt. Reinstatler reiterates that no other issues came up, but then she says that other issues did in fact come up and that they’re being dealt with.  But then reiterates that no other issues came up.

You can imagine our confusion.

That’s when the Air Force Academy reps lost their cool

So I asked them to detail the additional issues the gay cadets apparently did raise, after we were told repeatedly, including in the academy’s press release, that no issues were raised beyond hating on the media.

That’s when the academy reps started to lose their cool:

CAPT. REINSTALTER (who was clearly angry at this point): This is Captain Reinstalter, and the concerns were not “raised.” They were telling us information about how it was being dealt with. This is the thing.

ME: Right.

CAPT. REINSTALTER: We cannot tell you specifics of those things because that is privacy information. And that is the cadets’ personal lives, and I am not going to air their laundry in front of everyone here.

ME: With all due respect… (then Buzzfeed’s Chris Geidner jumps in)

That’s when Buzzfeed’s Chris Geidner jumped in, pointing out the obvious contradiction between the concern that all the media attention was harming the academy, and the notion that we were somehow violating the cadets’ privacy, when it was the academy that set up the media call in the first place with the cadets:

BUZZFEED’S CHRIS GEIDNER: I’m sorry, I’m going to jump in here. When several of us on this call covered Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal, and have been following this stuff for a long time, and the question here, when you set up a call with three cadets, and say that the concern was that maybe the media attention would cause problems for the academy. As a reporter, how am I supposed to take this seriously?… Seriously, as a reporter, I’m wondering when you’re claiming the main concern is negative media coverage, and then you set up a call with three cadets. How are we supposed to take this (concern) seriously?

And I’d argue it’s even more nonsensical than Chris notes.   This call was held to show the media that gay cadets do not have a problem with their day to day lives on campus, and that concerns were not raised during the meeting with the superintendent other than concerns about the media.  So how can asking about those concerns, now that the academy admits they fibbed in saying there were no concerns, be off-limits, when they were the entire point of the call in the first place? Let me quote you the academy’s email explaining the purpose of the call:

Subject matter is limited to the cadets’ experiences at the Air Force’s Academy, how they feel about the culture and climate here, the support our LGBQ cadets have received from Academy leadership, and the reality of the Academy’s inclusive environment from their first-hand experience.  If you wish to discuss anything not related to these topic areas, please let us know and we will see about arranging other support.

Interesting. So, now, the “reality of the academy’s inclusive environment from their first-hand experience” was an offensive invasion of the cadets’ right to privacy and an attempt to “air their dirty laundry” in public. In fact, that was the entire purpose of setting up the conference call in the first place.

One other point.  Where was the cadets’ “right to privacy” when the academy’s press release, and the academy reps in attendance at today’s conference call, detailed the other “concerns” supposedly raised by the cadets at the meeting – namely, all the hating on the press, and the LGBQ training?  The only “concerns” that the Air Force Academy angrily protects behind a veil of “privacy” are the concerns the conference call was set up to address, the reality of the academy’s inclusive environment.  Not very consistent, and not very convincing.

As I said, it was an amazing call.

Oh but it got even better.

I get yelled at for politely asking why the cadets can’t answer questions about the very topic the call was devoted to

After Chris Geidner asked his question, and before anyone responded, the academy media guy jumped in and totally lost it:

ACADEMY MEDIA REP: Hang on, the cadets all want to jump in on this one, but let me jump….

BUZZFEED’S GEIDNER: No, I ‘d like Capt. Reinstatler or the media person to answer that first.

ACADEMY MEDIA REP: I am the media person, and you’re taking our press release somewhat out of context. We said that one of the reasons we were holding this was because of some of the reports in the media, yes that’s true, but that’s one of a number of reasons we’re doing this, one of which we didn’t put in the press release, and I hope that you as a professional reporter understand, is transparency.

ME: But you just told us the cadets cannot answer questions about what concerns were raised at a meeting, when you are holding this press conference to convince us that no concerns were raised. That’s a little odd.

ACADEMY MEDIA REP: Okay, if you’re going to be unprofessional, we can end the call for you and let the other reporters get what they need, cuz we’re trying to help out a number of reporters here sir, and you’re only one of them.

BUZZFEED’S GEIDNER: There are two of us asking the same sort of questions.  And the question wasn’t answered. I mean [garbled] you’re saying that there were concerns raised, but then indignantly saying we’re not going to get into their personal lives. Make up your mind. Is the call about transparency or not.

ACADEMY MEDIA REP: Have you heard about the privacy act? I’m sure you have, as a professional reporter, and I know your colleagues are well aware of it.

Can’t you feel the love and caring?

(I’m told that in order to actually see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me – so say the experts.)

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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109 Responses to “Air Force Academy, citing “privacy,” angrily refuses to discuss anti-gay bias on campus”

  1. Lauren says:

    It is quite obvious that the AFA didn’t set this conference up so that gay cadets could discuss “how they feel about the culture & climate (at the Academy)”, or so individual cadets could tell the media about their “first-hand experience” with being gay in the AFA. The purpose was to try to convince the reporters that “everything is just peachy!” for “LBGQ” in the Air Force. (I noticed they left the ‘T’ out of the abbreviation, but I suppose it’s best to climb one mountain at a time…) Or at the very least to give you nothing to talk about even if you knew they were blowing smoke. It seems they miscalculated the situation, as they weren’t expecting “Cadet Carol” to be quite so honest with you. When she mentioned another “issue” that had been brought up at their meeting, it opened the door for you to ask questions that the AFA wasn’t ready (or willing) to answer.
    The media rep used the same sad excuse the military (and many other institutions/corporations) hide behind every time they don’t want the truth to be known – the Privacy Act. In this particular situation, that pathetic excuse doesn’t hold water for multiple reasons. In fact, it further shows just how hard they are trying to conceal the facts. As you mentioned, claiming Privacy Act protection is in complete contradiction with what their email states is the purpose of this conference call: to have discussions “limited to” the cadets’ PERSONAL experiences & opinions. And as you also point out, the Air Force representatives weren’t concerned about privacy when they released the press statement. But possibly the biggest reason the Privacy Act has nothing to do with this is the fact that the identities of the cadets were not given. The only identifier was the first name “Carol” – as you said, no last names were used, obviously TO PROTECT PRIVACY. If no full names or identifiers are given, you can say as much as you want about an individual and still be within the realms of the Privacy Act. This is a dirty cover-up to hide lies told in an attempt to hide a major controversy within the AFA – that the Air Force promotes an anti-gay climate & that the person they hired to lead a required program focusing on “leadership” & “character” has a history of involvement with anti-gay groups and 20 years of experience “curing gays”. This is just further proof that the military should NOT be responsible to police itself via internal investigations – another very important fact you bring up in your story on the press conference itself.
    Thanks so much for breaking the original story on Rosebush’s hire and for continuing to follow & report on any information connected with it as the Air Force continues to dig it’s own grave deeper & deeper.

  2. KenRob says:

    So is the rotten apple who fell from his tree. Teddy is just as big a fanatic as Daddy, he’s just managed to keep most people from knowing it.

  3. Gina King says:

    ….and next you’ll hear about how ‘just a few of the gay cadets feel disgruntled’ and are ‘voicing complaints of an internal nature’…or some such crap. This screams that there is a serious issue at that academy and the brass is trying to set up everything to be cleaned and the cadets purged by failing them…

  4. gratuitous says:

    The double-speak was very strong there. I note that the Air Force folks keep coming back to that phrase that “no particular concerns” were raised during the transparency session. After about the third or fourth time, I began wondering exactly what that meant: Nobody brought up a particular instance? Or was the session designed only to elicit general information and not to discuss particular incidents? Sadly, the Academy and its spokespeople didn’t seem to be very helpful in elucidating this, and it can be kind of tough, during the give-and-take of the conference call, for the journalists to stop everything and ask that pertinent and pointed question, and get a direct answer.

    The fact that they kept coming back to that “particularity” point makes me think they were trying to pull a fast one on the interviewers. I wonder what the leadership at the Academy would think of a cadet who gave such a dissembling report? It doesn’t appear the commanders are willing to hold themselves to the same standards they demand of the students.

  5. I’ve got the full audio, was considering posting it.

  6. Glenning says:

    Thanks for asking questions! I look forward to non-lying answers!

  7. lynchie says:

    Daddy Cruz is a dominionist.

  8. lynchie says:

    More likely they never investigate. They don’t believe they are accountable to anyone.

  9. Monoceros Forth says:

    It sounds rather like Colorado Springs has become the evangelical right’s equivalent of Clearwater, FL, Scientology’s home base.

  10. FLL says:

    I have to feel some sympathy for the city of Colorado Springs as it existed before Focus on the Family moved there from Los Angeles in 1992. I doubt if it was much different from most cities in Colorado—before Focus on the Family bought 50 acres in the middle of the city and turned Colorado Springs into the national epicenter of hate religion. Now look at the place 20 years later: terrorized cadets planting Bibles, fundamentalist literature and Christian music CDs in their rooms to keep the Evangelical inquisitors at bay. It’s something right out of an auto-de-fé from sixteenth-century Spain. How ironic that no heresy-hunting event like this would fly today in any Spanish-speaking country. The Air Force Academy and parts of the Deep South have traded places with sixteenth-century Spain.

    I’m sure the star-crossed population of Colorado was taken completely by surprise when the misfortune of Focus on the Family was visited on them. But that’s how fundamentalist Evangelicals operate. Their chief weapon is surprise—surpise and fear… wait, two weapons… their two weapons are fear and surprise and ruthless efficiency—oh, hell—their three weapons are fear and surprise and ruthless efficiency and an almost fanatical devotion to fundamentalist Evangelical Christianity— *^&%% &#%$^ mother f%#[email protected]#%! All right, from the top. Amongst their weaponry are such diverse elements as fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to fundamentalist Evangelical Christianity and nice red uniforms—D’oh!

    … or refer to the original material:

  11. Robert Luke Antonek says:

    Any luck getting the full transcript or audio file of the press conference?

  12. Mighty says:

    They know they are in trouble and are attempting to bunker down. Gotta keep up the pressure.

  13. karmanot says:

    #1. Tiffany’s had just extended her line of credit.

  14. karmanot says:

    I seriously doubt it was that casual. Rosebush is not a bug but part of a program of dominionism that is systemic at the Academy.

  15. jomicur says:

    Is this at all surprising? The leaders of the American military have been consistent, even pathological liars since at least Vietnam. Why would anyone expect them to deal with this issue (or an other, for that matter) honestly?

  16. Houndentenor says:

    Agreed but then why is religious discrimination still tolerated in the military when that’s been illegal for a very long time? I think this is all part of a broader problem of a religious minority taking over an institution and being allowed to get away with breaking the law because no one there is able to risk speaking out.

  17. dommyluc says:

    Do remember when she and TeddyBoy were at the Veteran’s memorial to “support” the billion man rally (“billion” in Teabagger math, where 1=6.5 million) during the government shutdown – that they caused – and Miss Supreme Dumbass was speaking when, suddenly, a veteran in the background yelled, “You’re an idiot!”? For about 3 seconds the clueless moron Palin didn’t know what to do, being so protected by that FoxNews bubble she lives in. Hopefully, we’ll get more unscripted moments like that, now that she’s out in the trenches fighting The Great and Holy War On Christmas.

  18. Ninja0980 says:

    I have a friend who is straight as can be and was still given hell in the Air Force.
    And that is because he was Jewish,which is simply unacceptable to the fundamentalists which have taken over the air force.
    Sadly ironic,people worry about Islamic extremists in the Middle East yet don’t seem to have a problem with people who think biblical law trumps all being allowed to foster in the Air Force

  19. The_Fixer says:

    *Head in Hands*

  20. Hue-Man says:

    DADT highlighted the waste of human talent consumed by the witch-hunts to out LGB personnel, whether Arabic-language translators, medics, or others with skills critical to a post 9/11 world. USAFA seems not to have learned that lesson, instead miring itself in the 1950s Cold War mentality about gays in the military. Add to that the growing acceptance of gays and lesbians by the generation of young people that are USAFA recruiting targets and the anti-gay environment is toxic to both gays AND straights. (I don’t want to distract from my main point but the same logic applies to talented people who are not being considered or who are being discriminated against because they are women, minorities, non-evangelicals.)

    At what point should leadership be considered derelict in its duty?

  21. Michael says:

    The Academy introduced new procedures to ensure that these investigations ferret out any wrongdoing. In each case, the accused is taken to the campus perimeter and the Superintendent of the Academy will shout “If this person hath done wrong, may Yahweh strike him down!” To date, everyone has been exonerated.

  22. Stev84 says:

    Agreed. By getting hung up on small details it’s very easy for them to dismiss this.

  23. Stev84 says:

    The religious toleration training was sabotaged and toned down by the fundamentalist chaplaincy.

  24. Michael says:

    Sure, as I noted above, the two key issues in this story are 1) the climate for LGBs at the Academy, and 2) Rosebush. But you could easily conclude that Rosebush hire flows out of the climate issue, and for that matter, you could also easily conclude that the AFA’s instinct to gloss the whole thing over in the press release flows out of the same climate issue.

    So I hope that you focus on that target: to what extent does a climate of bias or hostility operate at the AFA, what is the source of that bias and hostility, and what is being done to fix it. So if the press release is a component of that, fine. But I hope you don’t go Capt. Ahab on the press release, distracting from the central inquiry.

    Anyway, however you pursue this, I congratulate you on breaking this important story. Definitely a great moment for the blog and you. It is sad that this hire was made over 4 years ago, but no news organization caught it or thought it was newsworthy. Glad that AmericaBlog found it and is now shedding some disinfecting light into this particular cellar.

  25. Stev84 says:

    The way he said, it sounded more like private advice than an official order though.

    But it’s still evidence of the uncomfortably close relationships the local megachurches have with the Academy staff.

  26. Stev84 says:

    There is plenty of evangelical/fundamentalist/Dominionist ideology in Colorado Springs itself. Tons of ultra-conservative Christian organizations (some with lots of influence in Washington) are headquartered there (I bet in part because the AFA is there) and they have several very nasty megachurches with full access to the AFA.

  27. Stev84 says:

    Just people who think they are the best instructing people who also think they are the best. It’s far, far from the truth. The military academies revel in this elitism, but most of it isn’t justified. Especially when it comes to things you can’t put grades on, like character and ethics.They don’t really make better officers than ones from the other commissioning sources. Until recently academy graduates filled most top spots largely because of networking and cronyism, despite being a minority of all officers.

  28. Stev84 says:

    Actually, they’ve for decades justified launching nukes with religious philosophy. There was an ethics course for nuclear officers for a long time that contained Bible quotes (both OT and NT) and references to Augustine’s just war theory. It became known as the “Jesus love nukes” course after it was made public.

  29. benb says:

    I wonder what the experience was of the first women admitted to the AFA in 1975.

  30. Dakotahgeo says:

    LOLOL… Brother Benedict was right on target. Ghandi even said, “I love your Jesus, just keep me away from his followers,” LOLOL. Now you understand I’m gettin’ too old for footnotes, citing my sources, etc., but I BELIEVE it was Paul (not Tillich) maybe it was Tillich who said, “IF you are not questioning your faith, you are NOT growing in your Christian life (or faith)” … paraphrasing his thoughts on that subject. So you are not on the wrong path in this respect. It would be heathy, Spiritually, to ALWAYS question and prod your faith, beliefs, stances, etc. That way they grow and get stronger (Holy smokes, I just can’t get away from sermonizing, grrrrr. But your comments on this subject are right on the mark! Well done, good and faithful servant, lolol.

    I’ve seen “BeccaM” a number of times on the web… I’m honored to be part of your presence, interesting profile, and literary realm! Kudos. (I would love to spend time over a “few” cups of coffee/tea with you and visit! I’m a caffeine addict, lolol.

  31. BeccaM says:

    Hello darkness my old friend…

  32. Edna Welthorpe (Mrs.) says:

    There have been stories circulating for about twenty years about the Air Force Academy and how the fundamentalist christians have been infiltrating and proselytizing and intimidating those who do not follow their beliefs there. This is just another brick in the wall.

  33. BeccaM says:

    Heck, I’ve been going through the news, and after the 2003 rape scandal (numerous female cadets saying their reports were ignored), it seems like there’s a “Christianists out of control at AFA” story every two or three years from 2005 onward.

    Each time, they say they’re going to investigate themselves and institute tolerance training.

    I guess it just never takes.

  34. emjayay says:

    Well, Guam or Hawaii, where they have officer’s clubs, a commisary, and a PX.

  35. emjayay says:

    You don’t get it. Everything is perfect. The only worry is the news media distorting the facts. But of course, perfection needs constant nurturing to get even more perfect, which is the Air Force way. And in its dealings with the press, since everything is perfect, the Air Force only cares about transparency. And by that they mean appearing to be forthcoming in extremely limited ways they themselves define, in order that the media will report the truth.

  36. BeccaM says:

    I’ve a feeling if we’d met, you would have been exactly my kind of minister.

    Believe it or not, it was in my late teens, when I was completely cynical about any kind of faith or theology that I ran into a Jesuit brother who challenged me on just about everything. And convinced me that faith without question is no faith at all.

    We had the most amazing discussions — and arguments. I remember one of our later conversations, before our lives took us in different directions in which I said something like, “It’s not faith itself that’s the problem. It’s when people get together and get organized about it, turning it into a religion, using God to justify their own prejudices — that’s when everything, all the good stuff, goes off the rails.”

    Brother Benedict nodded and said simply, “There you go.”

  37. The thing is, I’m not sure what they expected. It’s not like they haven’t been in trouble for their fundamentalist bent before.

  38. Dakotahgeo says:

    Naval… just thought I’d throw that in. You might want to Google “navel.”

  39. Dakotahgeo says:

    By god, I’d love to be the fiddler, musician that I am! They couldn’t keep up!

  40. Dakotahgeo says:

    Listen, I’ve been in church work all my life. I earned the title, “Renegade Minister” because I followed the Bible but I used my own intelligence (with the Holy Spirit’s help) to filter through the BS. I’ve heard it all, I’ve seen it all and it is NOT pretty. I probably would have been responsible for all of these reporters getting kicked out, but we would have gotten the answers we needed, not the answers THEY wanted us to believe. My brother was a lifer in the Army and I heard stories that would curl your ears about the sex life going on around the military bases world-wide. Nothing surprises me any more, inside or outside politics and church ministry. Oh, to come back as a fly and just listen to the rhetoric going on… it IS… amazing!

  41. Dakotahgeo says:

    YES! I’ve heard of these extremist groups, one which is the Dominionists, some such dingbat group as the Quiverfull, families having oodles of kids, bringing them up as Fundies… of course that excludes the fact that these children will have no free will or thought patterns of their own (THAT ought to be fun to watch!). These folks are hell bent on revolution and they think the government and normal people aren’t on to their tricks. Makes one wonder how many of these kids will end up on the street?!

  42. caphillprof says:

    Wikipedia : “The program at the Academy is guided by the Air Force’s core values of “Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do”,[3]

    If this cover-up is characteristic of the AFA’s integrity, service and excellence, I think the accreditation agencies should go back and take a closer look. This is an embarassment to the nation.

  43. pappyvet says:

    They got caught flat footed

  44. Dakotahgeo says:

    I hate to say this but I started giggling to myself when the USAFA started hemming and hawing and talking like their fingers just snapped a mousetrap in the cookie jar they were raiding, and they dared not scream! Total military BS, lolol. How do these morons exist from day to day living double lives and double-lying about this issue? Evidently they are pretty good at it but their tongues keep playing leapfrog during the interview. Typical political gobble-de-gook (no offense to the turkeys… the ones with the feathers, that is!).

  45. pappyvet says:

    Here here !

  46. pappyvet says:

    The lack in depth of understanding is laughable. It is as if you claimed great progress by no longer calling blacks the n word but still do not allow them on the sidewalks. And then getting huffy when the crap hits the fan.

  47. Thom Allen says:

    I think the “advisor” and PR flack had already peed on their territory to scent mark it and warn you off. When you and Geidner crossed over that line, they went into a mix of “defend territory and attack intruder” mode.

    Neither strikes me as particularly bright. I would the English instructor would have better verbal skills and not have such difficulty with the confusing: “Then Capt. Reinstatler reiterates that no other issues came up, but then she says that other issues did in fact come up and that they’re being dealt with. But then reiterates that no other issues came up.” Wonder if she was hired for her English abilities, hew willingness to tow the AF official line or her fundie beliefs?

  48. I really don’t entirely agree. I think folks on that call got the impression they were spinning us a tale as they’re story kept changing. I’m not also not sure the Pentagon, the White House, or the Hill will be very happy to know that they were likely also give a “depends on the definition of ‘is'” explanation from the academy, as all of them are of this issue. People in this town don’t like lies by omission. And the lie goes to the heart of the climate. They tried to cover up what amounts to a civil rights complaint/EEO complaint. That is prima facie proof of a problem with the climate at the academy. The ex-gay is still very much at issue, I agree, but this has gone far beyond one employee who’s a nut. We now have evidence of an entire system that appears to be corrupt, and that’s far worse than one man, though we will certainly keep talking about him.

  49. pappyvet says:

    Hold on there John ! You mean Bachmann is a girl? Why would a girl marry a gay guy?

  50. karmanot says:

    good one!

  51. Michael says:

    You are doing great work on this John. My only suggestion would be not to get too hung up on the wording of the press release. I get that the PR offended you because it glossed over what happened, but that really isn’t the story here. The PR issue comes down to what the meaning of the word “particular” means in the PR, and that is not going to get turned into Watergate, no matter how misleading it might be. They can and will say that a particular concern is one that has to do with a specific problem or a specific incident or a specific policy or procedure, not just generic thoughts about increasing training. Anyway, even if that is BS, it is all sufficiently ambiguous that it is pointless to harp on about it.

    Keep the focus on the substance, which is: 1) the climate at the academy for LGBs and 2) the hiring of a man who, given his professional background, is highly unlikely to be able to execute his duties in an unbiased manner.

  52. karmanot says:

    And Marcus Bachman got his PhD from a Cracker Jack box.

  53. karmanot says:

    In my opinion the Navel Academy has the smartest members. ;-)

  54. Jason Equality King says:

    Ok. Maybe I’m being overly paranoid, but has anyone thought about the way the Manhattan declaration plays into this? We’ve got a group of fundamentalist nut-jobs who believe that their way is the only way and they will use any method possible to convert or silence someone who doesn’t agree with their viewpoint. Through strategic posturing and whatnot they’ve managed to position themselves so that they control or influence media (Faux News), politically they’ll manipulate the system so that if they aren’t in the majority they can at least block the laws they don’t like, they control or have access to a wide cross section of our nations arsenal and military training, and they’ve created a pledge that says that they are not obligated to follow laws that disagree with their definitions of Religious Liberty, Marriage, Sanctity of Life, etc. This isn’t just a fringe group, this is a revolutionary cabal, trying to pull a coup!

  55. BeccaM says:

    Aye, and that’s why it’s my own theory the reason this story seems to be bursting at the seams is because that particular sh*t-sack has been being filled for decades now. I mean, it wouldn’t surprise me if some of these ‘other issues’ raised were “No, the upperclassmen cadets weren’t harassing me because I’m gay, not exactly. They were doing it because I’m Catholic.” Or Jewish, or non-observant generic Christian, or Muslim, or atheist.

  56. Bingo, I couldn’t put everything in my post, but I was thinking the same thing – why do you need sensitivity training if everything is going swimmingly? And why did you bring it up at all, if the commanders have already responded to all your concerns by doing everything you wanted?

  57. HRC (biggest US gay rts group) blasts Air Force Academy for continuing to defend hire of man who “cures” gays

  58. BeccaM says:


  59. karmanot says:

    Well done!

  60. BeccaM says:

    I can almost see the cheat-sheet of bullet points they had in front of them:

    – Cadets upset about negative media reports about the AFA (hammer this one!)
    – Cadets given chance to speak up about LGB issues, no issues raised
    – Cadets raised some issues and they’re being dealt with

    John’s account of what ‘Cadet Carol’ said also, to me, carried lots of undertone of her having been heavily coached prior to the call. However, her #2 point very much would suggest there are ‘situations’ being faced by LGBQ cadets.

    Also how can we increase training at the academy so the faculty… can be
    more aware of the situations that go on in the LGBQ community.”

    If everything’s hunky-dory, why is increased training for the faculty needed with respect to these unspecified ‘situations’? What kinds of situations? Y’mean like a gay or lesbian cadet being harassed for making baby Jesus cry?

    Unfortunately, they forgot, as John and Chris pointed out, that #2 and #3 contradict each other. Nor did they realize someone was going to ask, “Okay, what were the issues raised?” And also didn’t realize there could and would be independent sources of info outside of the hermetically sealed bubble the AFA tried to create around this PR sh*tstorm crisis.

  61. karmanot says:


  62. I think we do fine winning this one on the merits. They look fine. And in any case, it’s always wise to be extra careful about commenting about how women look in criticizing them, unless the woman involved is Michele Bachmann or Lindsey Graham.

  63. And yeah, when I went back to listen to the call, I was glad to hear how sane Geidner and I were. It only made the blow up more bizarre, and telling.

  64. Monoceros Forth says:

    Man, it must be nightmarishly bad at the Academy then. I mean, we all know that fundie evangelists regard any other sort of Christian as misguided at best, idolatrous and even pagan at worst, but usually they disguise their contempt a little better and will bring themselves to be semi-polite even to Catholics so long as they share the correct hatreds.

    The bit about having to leave the right books and music lying around–ugh. So I assume that if any of these undercover non-fundamentalists were caught reading so much as a “National Geographic” magazine or listening to Led Zeppelin, that would be bad because neither is “Christian”?

  65. Excellent analysis.

  66. Thom Allen says:

    Don’t the two female officers involved look like they have a little of the Bachmanic’s “crazy eye” syndrome?

  67. Thom Allen says:

    “The beatings will continue until all of you fags go back into the closet and dhut up.”

  68. Thom Allen says:

    I’ll bet the commandant is already considering retirement and moving to a Pacific island.

  69. Thom Allen says:

    It sounds very much like these lower-level “officers” were poorly prepared and inexperienced. Reinstatler doesn’t much sound like an “adviser” at all. An adviser is supposed to listen to input from students and guide them with respect to her experience with college regulations, life experiences, other areas of expertise, etc. Sounds like she was very much into taking control and pushing the AFA agenda. That’s not advising, that’s controlling.

    The PR flack lost it. That’s inexcusable and totally unprofessional. And it sounds like both the flack and the “adviser” were more determined to control the amount and type of information released and were more than ready to shut things down if they felt that the interview was going to make the AFA look like it lied and was trying to do some serious ass-covering. It’s one thing if this “interview” had to do with the possibility of revealing nuclear secrets. But not about hoe gay students feel about how the Academy is treating them. Obviously, this is Air Force “transparency” in action. If it’s going to make the Air Force look bad, stop that line of questions, nudge the students to get them to STFU and finally call off the press “interview.”

    And allowing the AFA to investigate the AFA concerning this? When the administration and lower-level toadies have already lied and tried to cover up (“We have no hiring records on Rosebush.” Then, 18 hours later they had records on Rosebush. The cadets had no issues with how the AFA is treating them. Well, the cadets had a few issues. No, they didn’t. Yes, they did. ) I’m amazed that the “advisor” and the flack couldn’t even keep their stories straight. And now, letting some AF colonel on staff at the AFA do an “investigation” of the issue and how it was handled, including “investigating” his commanding general? That’s analogous to having H. R. (Bob) Haldeman conduct an investigation to NIxon’s actions in the Watergate scandal. Can you spell W-H-I-T-E-W-A-S-H?

    I hope Cadet Carol fares well. My feeling is that her life will now be hell at the AFA. Administration/command will have her under a microscope, fellow evangelical cadets will probably hate on her, her ‘adviser” will probably make her life miserable.

    And, the totally ridiculous part of this is, not only did the AF lie about Rosebush, his records, background, whether he had contact with students, etc. They have him in a position now where he determines how to best train the cadet corps in ETHICS. Obviously, he’s not doing a good job. Since the ethics at the AFA seem to suck the big one.

  70. The_Fixer says:

    I’ve often heard that of the services, the Air Force is supposed to have the smartest members (in spite of the officers participating and orchestrating this call).

    If true, that would mean those two candidates would be left out in the cold. They’d just both hear the phrase “Sorry, but you’re not Air-Force material.”

  71. FLL says:

    Below is a link to yet another horrific article, this one about a group of about 100 cadets (mostly mainline Protestant) who formed an underground group who had to pretend to be fundamentalist Evangelical Christian, and lived in fear of being “outed” as non-fundamentalist. They would “leave Bibles, Christian literature, and Christian music CDs lying around their rooms” in order to feign fundamentalist belief. From HuffPo, 2010:

    I really think most Americans had no idea about any of this until now. Finally, this is getting the press it deserves. Mainstream media outlets, like the New York Times, need to take note.

  72. I forgot to go into the long discussion at the end of the call about why it would take an 18 month foia request to see the ex-gay coach’s resume he submitted to the academy to get the job. You see, “privacy.” So another report goes, “can’t we just ask him to release it?” A second reporter says, “I already did, he refused.” They’re all stonewalling. Not to mention, 18 months for a FOIA request?

  73. The_Fixer says:

    Is that totally unbelievable? After all, Ted Haggart was their subcontractor in charge of de-gaying. Marcus Bachmann has that speciality, too.

  74. The_Fixer says:

    Regardless, they are still at the controls. It works the other way, too. Heaven forbid, let’s just say that they needed to be fired (for a “good reason”, let’s say, which is an oxymoron when talking about nukes, but go with it).

    Would they fire them? Would they refuse based on a religious belief?

    And that’s where the problem comes in. Any time you introduce religion into an environment such as the military, the danger of religious law trumping governmental law comes into play. It’s not just the discrimination problem, it’s a government functioning properly that is at risk. Defense is also one key part of government that needs to function properly.

    This is serious stuff.

  75. Rufus says:

    Were I the Commandant of the Air Force Academy, I would be very nervous that John and Rachel were trying to look under the tent flap. John, keep it up, the Air Force Academy is not a religious university.

  76. BeccaM says:

    I’ve seen the phrase “all in for Jesus” used a couple times now, with respect to AFA cadet culture.

  77. Hue-Man says:

    These are the exceptionally best instructing the best. Or is this another example of “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” (I grew up in a culture where teachers were much admired and I benefited from some truly gifted instructors.)

    The whole thing smacks of being “half-pregnant”: either you clam up and deny everything or, assuming you want to change the culture, you permit open access to lesbian and gay cadets to express publicly what their anti-gay experiences have been (I won’t bother waiting for option 2). I expect the gag orders have already gone out, the ex-gay expert is safely ensconced, and no media access for the rest of this decade. Meanwhile, the recruiting problem is solved – LGB students now know to stay away and good evangelical white kids will feel safer joining USAFA!

  78. FLL says:

    The potential plaintiffs in a lawsuit would be the majority of cadets, at least in this day and age. Fundamentalist Evangelical Christians represent a minority in this country and a minority in the armed forces. The Air Force Academy got caught in a time warp by being engulfed by Bible Christians in Colorado Springs, even though the rest of the country is in the year 2013. Now they have to face the music.

  79. Stev84 says:

    Though to be honest, they couldn’t do anything without receiving launch authorization from the White House. Even if they wanted to.

  80. Stev84 says:

    They also target Christians. About 95% of the clients of the MRFF are Christians. They don’t like Catholics or mainline Protestants either. Anyone who isn’t “born again” or not sufficiently conservative.

  81. Stev84 says:

    It’s easier said than done. The fundamentalist infestation is also present in the Pentagon because it’s been going on for so long. There are many high ranking generals who are part of this and who can easily obstruct any progress.

    There is also a very religious climate at West Point judging from some reports. But it’s not as bad as the AFA.

  82. Trust me, the thought had crossed my mind.

  83. Hue-Man says:

    You hippie liberals are all being far too paranoid, it could never happen! PS, Just don’t read this story from last month: “A top general in charge of the U.S. Air Force’s arsenal of nuclear ballistic missiles has been relieved of his command due to loss of
    trust, defense officials told NBC News.”

    Don’t worry, Be happy. Must be a different Air Force….

  84. dave3137 says:

    They lost control, and hated it, so they blamed YOU

  85. Monoceros Forth says:

    Everything I’m reading about this AFA conference call makes me think of a staged press conference where carefully selected prisoners of war are dressed up in clean suits and trotted out before the cameras to reassure the world that, no, they’re being treated just fine.

  86. karmanot says:

    OMG ( forgive pun)

  87. FLL says:

    From the looks of the lawsuit that Rachel Maddow quotes from in yesterday’s segment and the information from Jewish Press that John quotes from above, it seems that the AF Academy targets secular and non-Christian cadets, not just gay ones. In other words, a well rounded fundie Christian inquisition.

  88. BeccaM says:

    That’s what I was talking about below. My neck-hairs are all saying this isn’t just about LGB cadets getting harassed by the Christianist fanatics — even though I do believe that’s also a likely component of the ‘concerns’ which don’t exist according to the PR flacks but which were raised and reported on as existing for the sake of ‘transparency.’

  89. usagi says:

    Only most of them, and it’s a common brag on the Dominionist boards that they control the “big firecrackers.” On the one hand, I do actually believe them, but on the other, doing something untoward would required the sort of infiltration that I don’t think anyone could achieve.

  90. FuzzyRabbit says:

    I was thinking that same thing earlier today.

  91. FLL says:

    The instances of Christian indoctrination at the Air Force Academy is just plain unconstitutional, seeing that the armed forces are part of the federal government and this is all being done with the taxpayer’s money. This is not just a case of anti-gay discrimination; this is a clear-cut case of an illegal establishment of religion by a branch of the federal government. The use of institutional power to intimidate and punish cadets who do not espouse evangelical Christianity has to be challenged in federal court. There is no getting around it. The ACLU and other organizations that stand up against religious tyranny need to know about this unconstitutional abuse of governmental power now.

  92. Yeah I want to see Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz at the Air Force Academy gates doing the pledge.

  93. dommyluc says:

    Keep rocking the house, John, along with Rachel Maddow. I figure once Sarah Palin travels to Colorado Springs to “defend” the AFA and the USAFA, we’ll know we’ve won (well, the cadets will have won). As Lawrence O’Donnell once said, “How do you tell you’re losing in politics? Sarah Palin is standing right beside you.” LOL!
    Oh, and BENGHAZI! (sorry, it’s been a few days since I’ve heard that one. I guess the filibuster kerfuffle drowned that out for a minute or two).

  94. Yes, did you notice how he kept using the word “professional journalist(s)” when talking to Geidner. It sounded like he was condescending, almost suggesting Chris (and certainly I) wasn’t a real journalist. They’re clearly not happy about this issue, and that’s too bad.

  95. BeccaM says:

    That struck me, too. Totally non-applicable.

    They were just asking, “What issues were raised other than you guys hate the media?” The only way it could even verge into coverage by the amended 1974 act is (1) if the AFA is classified as an ‘executive branch agency’ and (2) if the answer was, “Cadet Smith asked we not use his name, but he raised the concern that…etc.”

    I think the Academy is in PR panic shit-storm mode and can’t figure out how to get out of it, now that the media’s suddenly paying attention to the fact they’ve been running the place like a Christianist Fanatic Indoctrination Camp for decades.

    I also can’t quite shake the feeling that this angle involving gay cadets could also break open the longstanding hostility of cadets (and AFA leadership) against non-Christians. I mean, I wonder if that’s among the “other issues” that were raised. (Purely speculating here, of course.)

  96. BeccaM says:

    And Marcus Bachmann as staff psychologist.

  97. BeccaM says:

    With officers coming from an Academy infested by fanatics who want the Apocalypse to happen sooner rather than later or not at all…

  98. Lordwhorfin says:

    This is very peculiar. To what ‘privacy act’ is the media shill referring? FERPA of 1974? That Act would hardly be applicable in this context, given that the voluntary proffer of student experience has nothing, NOTHING to do with academic records, unless the student in question has requested total non-disclosure of all information, in which case they’d hardly be sitting in the room for the call, eh? This ‘privacy’ business is an embarrassing, manufactured smoke-screen designed to provide cover for moving the goal-posts.

    Not to mention, rude much? These Academy flacks were totally unprepared for the call. Talk about unprofessional, all the way up to Capt. Reinstalter. I’d say Geidner really got under their skin with the DADT comments-they know how bad it’s going to look in the end. And silencing their own participants during the call is . . . priceless, but may be costly to the Academy in the long run.

  99. Stev84 says:

    “The beatings will continue until morale improves”

  100. bkmn says:

    What’s next? Are they going to hire Peter Labarbera as morale officer?

  101. chrislib says:

    Somebody remind these bozos they’re sucking on the gubmnt teat for 100% of their funding. Us taxpayers got a right to know what goes on there.

  102. Stev84 says:

    More worrisome: The AF controls the country’s nuclear weapons.

  103. Thank you :) And thank YOU, if you are who I think you are ;-) But it was nice to be able to tag team with Chris, unplanned, and have each other’s back.

  104. Stev84 says:

    The way I see it, if a reporter wants to protect the identity of a source, they remove the name and possibly information that can identify the source. But then they quote what the source said.

    They don’t say “I talked to a source, but I can’t tell you what we talked about to protect their privacy.” Might as well not have the talk at all then.

  105. KMiller says:

    Thanks for the pressure on this issue, John. You’re doing a really great job here. Team Geidner/Aravosis packs a punch.

  106. MyrddinWilt says:

    And this is the organization that thinks it should be able to look at every email and every other message sent over the Internet.

    The officers are completely preposterous. Methinks that when people say they support the military they are not thinking about the absurd three and four star showboats who run the show.

  107. PeteWa says:

    The Attacks From Our Closet Are Classified!
    AFA motto

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