Dr. Ben Carson insisted last week that he had “better sources” than the U.S. government after Obama administration officials said there was no evidence to support his claims that the Chinese military was getting involved in Syria.
But what are those sources, exactly?
Carson’s campaign has been coy about where the retired neurosurgeon is getting his advice on foreign policy, so far identifying a single confidante on national security: retired Maj. Gen. Robert Dees. When Yahoo News’ Katie Couric on Friday asked Carson who was telling him about China’s presence in Syria, Carson pointed to Dees and “some CIA people who know a lot of stuff.”
Dees, unlike Carson, is a bonafide West Point graduate, according to an online bio. He supervised U.S. troops in Korea and Europe and served as commander of the US-Israeli Joint Task Force for Missile Defense before retiring in 2003 to take a post as the head of “defense strategies” at Microsoft. As a newly-minted executive for the tech firm, the retired general told businesspeople looking to score government contracts at a conference in Iraq that he “was one of the primary planners of the invasion,” according to a 2004 report in The Nation.
Dees later dedicated himself to various military ministry organizations and currently serves as associate vice president for military outreach at Liberty University, the evangelical institution founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell. The retired general told recently told CNN that he met Carson at church earlier this year. The two immediately hit it off and began study sessions, he said.
“We started with a world map and looked at the way the United States goes from the State Department to Defense Department and the way other nations and international bodies organize around the world,” Dees told CNN. “In a short time I came to recognize Dr. Carson had the right reflexes, and after 30-plus years in the military, I can size up a leader.”
Here are a few ideas Carson may have heard from Dees in those study sessions.
Dees declared that the U.S. had “been infiltrated” by Muslim extremists at a 2013 Christian men’s conference. During his speech at Wildfire Weekend, the retired general recalled what he learned on a visit to an intelligence center in Virginia shortly after 9/11.
“I looked up on the wall, it was not dissimilar to this, and there were cellphone calls coming from certain places and you could see where they would go into other places,” Dees recounted. “All of a sudden I saw Kandahar, Afghanistan, to Nashville, Tennessee. Dearborn, Michigan. Greensboro, South Carolina. What’s all that about?”
“At that point in time I said we have a serious issue,” he added. “It’s not about these guys who came from way out, knocked down some buildings and then have left. We have a serious internal issue. We’ve been infiltrated.”
Dees repeated that story at the 2014 Values Voter Summit, adding Lackawanna, New York to the list of cities where residents are in contact with associates in the Middle East. He went as far as to say that those cities are “all Islamic sanctuaries in the United States within which there are fundamentalist sleeper cells.”
Dees accused the Obama administration of degrading the military’s “moral readiness” with “social engineering” on gay and gender issues while speaking on a panel at the 2015 Values Voter Summit. In response to a follow-up question from CNSnews.com about Obama’s nomination of Eric Fanning, an openly gay man, to be the Army’s secretary, Dees pivoted to talk about cultural “guerilla warfare within the military.”
“People who would seek to strike religion from our land are working very aggressively out in the various parts of the military to strike down religious freedoms even if it’s against the existing regulation,” he told CNSnews.com. They will press and push for whatever they can get away with.”
“We in the military know that [the troops] don’t want to be politically correct, they want to be God correct,” he added.
Dees suggested that Common Core was a threat to U.S. security because it undermined the nation’s “spiritual infrastructure” while speaking on the 2014 Values Voter Summit panel, Right Wing Watch noted. The retired general tied the educational standards to the Benghazi attacks by arguing that in both cases, Obama administration officials stretched facts to fit their “liberal agenda objectives.”
“One of the elements of that spiritual infrastructure of the United States of America is the proper retention of national history instead of historical revisionism to fit a convenient narrative,” he said to applause. “The historical revisionism that we see in Benghazi is symptomatic of historical revisionism we see across our country, across the world of politics and even in the Common Core curriculum, for instance, of the Obama administration.”
Dees went on to declare that “in war, truth is the first casualty” and urged the audience to “resist” what he said was the left’s revisionism.
Politico recently noted the parallels between Carson’s allusions to the Roman Empire and Dees’ writings. The introduction to the retired general’s 2014 book, “Resilient Nations,” reads: “At the height of Roman decadence, good became evil and evil became good. One can rightly argue that the United States is frightfully close to a similar fate.” Dees also accused President Barack Obama of awarding “the Muslim religion ‘most favored status'” and denying American exceptionalism in that book, according to Politico.
As far back as his 2013 Wildfire Weekend speech, Dees painted U.S. troops—namely, Christian troops—as the agents of change who could save America from the Roman Empire’s fate.
“We as Christian men in this nation, some would say even a post-Christian nation, in this nation of moral demise” he said before invoking a passage about Roman senators’ wives turning to prostitution from Edward Gibbon’s “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.”
“Quite a few things are upside down in our nation today and the men of Jesus Christ in this nation have got to stand up and turn them right-side up,” he continued.
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at email@example.com.