According to an interview she gave to CNN’s Anderson Cooper, security expert Shannen Rossmiller claims that in 2008 she participated in a study designed to help the Department of Defense and related military officials identify signs of potentially harmful extremism among servicemen. “The intent behind the whole report was to provide a useful tool for intelligence officials to spot and identify certain signs of radical behavior,” she explained. If Rossmiller’s claims are accurate, then the failure of the FBI and Pentagon, and the joint anti-terrorism task force they created, to recognize the signs of latent violent extremist leanings in the behavior of Major Hasan that they had been monitoring for at least 11 months before he killed 13 people, will become even more inscrutable.
Investigations since the shootings have revealed that the FBI evaluated at least 20 e-mail messages sent by Major Hasan to American-born Yemeni-based imam Anwar Al-Awlaki and determined that there was nothing in them worthy of increased scrutiny. The day after Hasan’s murder of 12 of his fellow soldier’s at a pre-deployment facility, Al-Awlaki posted a message on his website praising Hasan as a “hero” and encouraging other Muslim American soldiers to courageously follow his lead.
Apart from his communication with Al-Awlaki, there were numerous occasion while working as a psychiatrist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center that Hasan demonstrated his affinity for radical Islamic principles and his disdain for American government’s “war against Islam.” There were presentations and conversations with co-workers that should have illuminated bright red warning lights, but informed intelligence officials working the case decided that no further action was required.
The report Rossmiller describes was unclassified at the time of its inception, but, she claims, has since been classified and is now unavailable even to her. She says that a few days after seeing the reports on television of the murder of 13 people at Ft. Hood, Texas, by Major Nidal Hasan, she contacted the Pentagon to inquire as to why there was no mention of the study she worked on, especially given the particular applicability of the topic of the report to the events at Ft. Hood.
The terse response Rossmiller received from her contacts at the Department of Defense angered her. She was told that there would be neither comment nor reference to the report by military officials because the findings of the study were now classified. Rossmiller smells the rancid odor of political correctness in the Pentagon’s refusal to discuss the matter and its usefulness in the Hasan investigation. As a result, there are 13 people dead. Rossmiller is pained to think that the work done by herself and others that was commissioned by the Department of Defense in 2008 may have prevented the tragedy that left 19 children without a parent.
On Friday, Rossmiller was understandably perplexed to learn that Defense Secretary Robert Gates has just called for a 45-day review of relevant Pentagon protocols to determine if there was any avoidable failure on the part of his department to identify personnel “who could potentially pose credible threats to others.” The announced goals of Gate’s inquiry are identical to those set for Rossmiller’s group by the Pentagon for the study she worked on in 2008.
If the FBI, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Homeland Security are sincere in their pronouncements that they will stop at nothing to prevent a tragedy like the one that occurred at Ft. Hood from ever happening again, then they should immediately de-classify and release the report described by Shannen Rossmiller so that the question of whether a discernible movement by Islamic terrorists to infiltrate the American military exists, and if it does exist, how can we rid the Army of this cancer and permanently eradicate the threat it poses to the greater body of the United States of America.
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