Trump nominee denounces past Islamophobic tweets

President Trump’s nominee to head the Pentagon’s policy shop, retired Army Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, is denouncing Islamophobic remarks and controversial comments he made about Democratic lawmakers and former President Obama on Twitter in the past. 

In a letter sent to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and ranking member Jack Reed (D-R.I), Tata said he “deeply” regrets the inflammatory remarks, asserting they do not reflect his character.

“I am writing to you today about past remarks I made, which have been described in recent media reports. I look forward to meeting in person to discuss my public service and record soon, but in the meantime, please accept this sincere outreach on this important topic,” he wrote. 

“I have long respected your committee’s spirit of bipartisanship and collegiality, as I have prided myself on similar traits, working with individuals from all backgrounds, viewpoints, races and religions. Over my decades of service, I have well and faithfully executed the orders of our leaders of all political parties,” he added.

The condemnation of his previous comments comes in the wake of three retired general officers pulling their endorsements of the nominee after his 2018 tweets — in which he called Islam “the most oppressive and violent religion” and referred to Obama as a “terrorist leader” — came to light.

Tata said his rebuke of the controversial tweets is not motivated by his nomination.   

“I want to be clear, I deeply regret comments that I made on social media several years ago. My tweets were completely out of character, something many of my colleagues and friends know. I understand that it was unprofessional to have discussed our former commander in chief in the fashion I did,” he continued in the letter. 

“My regret, however, has nothing to do with my nomination for Undersecretary of Defense of Policy. Rather, I have a lifetime of public service leadership and a cadre of soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and civilian mentors and protégés whom I disappointed with those comments,” he added.

Tata said his “misstatements on Twitter” were an “aberration in a four decade thread of faithful public service,” adding that during his life as a public figure — working as a radio and TV contributor and author and public speaker since leaving the military — he has demonstrated a record of bipartisanship.  

“However, I did misspeak in 2018 on Twitter in hyperbolic conversations,” he wrote. “There is no excuse for those comments, for which I take complete responsibility and also fully retract and denounce.”

Tata stressed that he is not Islamophobic, highlighting his military service and saying he is “proud” of his work supporting the Afghan people and fighting against the Taliban and al Qaeda’s oppression.   

“I value all religions and faiths. I spent over three years of my life in Bosnia, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan where I helped Muslims find safe haven, build new lives, and survive war-torn landscapes. Indeed, I have fought along-side Muslim soldiers in our U.S. ranks and alongside members of the Afghan National Security Forces,” the letter says. 

“I personally invested 18 months away from my own family to lead and provide better lives for war-ravaged Bosnian Muslims who had been persecuted by the attacking Serb forces, as we implemented the zone of separation and conducted stability operations,” he wrote. “Later, the units I commanded aided Muslim Kosovar Albanians for six months as they fled Macedonian army raids in the mountains where we welcomed them in Kosovo and sheltered the families who had little but the clothes on their backs,” it adds.

Tata noted that after leaving the military he went on to work in the Washington, D.C., public school system and in North Carolina’s Wake County public school system, where he looked to create opportunities for low-income students, writing that in addition to serving “honorably in uniform and in combat,” he sought to continue a life in public service instead of “accepting more lucrative private sector opportunities.”  

“Serving is my passion, my life’s work and I hope to continue down this path,” he concluded in the letter. “I guarantee that when we are able to meet in person and discuss these important issues, I will demonstrate to you my strength of character and commitment to sound public policy that has driven my desire to enhance our national and domestic security and make a difference for all races, religions, and ethnicities.”

In May, 35 retired senior military officials wrote the Senate Armed Services Committee voicing their support for Tata.    

Tags Donald Trump Jack Reed Jim Inhofe

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