Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Pentagon Review of Fort Hood Fails to Mention Hasan by Name

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Last week the Pentagon released the report of its investigation into the Fort Hood shootings. The review runs about 90 pages and remarkably doesn’t once, not once, mention Major Nidal Hasan (the shooter) or Islam (the reputed impetus for the killings).

Congress has initiated its own investigation into the hows and whys of the Army psychiatrist’s rampage that left 13 dead and another 32 wounded on November 5, 2009. Several key lawmakers have informed the Pentagon that the report’s omission of Hasan’s name or his devotion to radical Islam is unacceptable and will need to be explained. 

Many observers have commented that the Army’s reluctance to point to Hasan’s adherence to a twisted form of Islam is indicative of the same political correctness that allowed the Army major to slip through the fingers of intelligence and security agents in the first place, resulting in the deaths of 13 people. The suspicious disregard for Hasan’s embrace of extremist views “shows how deeply entrenched the values of political correctness have become,” John Lehman told Time magazine. Lehman was a member of the 9/11 commission and Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of the Navy. 

With inexplicable candor, the two men who oversaw the compiling of the report told reporters that they had no intention of exploring the possible motives that drove an Army officer to murder 12 of his fellow soldiers. “Our concern is with actions and effects, not necessarily with motivations,” said Togo West, former Secretary of the Army. “We certainly did not cite a particular group,” added his partner, Admiral Vernon Clark. 

Both statements are true and troublesome. For the Army to effectively prevent a repeat of Hasan’s transformation from an officer and a gentleman to an officer and a jihadist, they must inarguably concern themselves with placing reliable roadblocks along every avenue that another soldier could possibly travel from soldier of America to “Soldier of Allah” (the indication Hasan included on his business cards). 

If this report is to be of any value, it must unrepentantly reveal the reasons, even those only speculative, that Major Nidal Hasan turned to preachers of hate and sought from them religious absolution or justification for the treasonous murder of the most heinous hew. To blindly (or worse, knowingly) disregard the Islamic fundamentalist connection between Hasan and the foul crimes he committed is to proclaim to those jihadists still summoning courage to follow Hasan’s footsteps: We will not impede your descent into the dogma of destruction because to do so would be insensitive. Such a posture will embolden those who undoubtedly are being surfeited with malicious motivations from those whose goals will be furthered through their wholehearted conversion to terror. 

Another angle to the greater narrative that is being avoided by the Army is the fact that all basic criminal investigations begin with one question: Was there a motive? Motive is one of the preliminary pieces of the puzzle when law enforcement begins its investigation of homicides. In the case of the Fort Hood shootings, the motive was not hidden. 

As has been reported in The New American and elsewhere, Major Nidal Hasan was proud of his pernicious form of piety. As stated above, he carried business cards declaring himself to be a “SoA” (Soldier of Allah); he delivered presentations to his fellow medical students wherein he proclaimed the resolve of Muslims to “die” for the cause of Islam; he proselytized his colleagues at Walter Reed and elsewhere; he sought out and corresponded with a former imam, Anwar al-Awlaki, known to preach hate and to ally himself with al-Qaeda; and the coup de gras, he shouted “Aallahu akbar” (God is Great) as he climbed upon a desk in the processing center and showered gunfire on unsuspecting soldiers and civilians. 

There is an enemy here, and it is the purveyors of radical Islam who sit safely offshore and tirelessly troll the Internet searching for the lonely and longing of the sub-class of disaffected Muslim young men. These cyber-zealots are adept in using the anonymity of the Web to their advantage and staying in the cloud of the global Internet, beyond the jurisdictional reach of law enforcement. Their gospel is one of violent hatred for all things Western, particularly the armed forces of the West, and the first of their articles of faith is to infiltrate the organizations wherein they can do the most shocking harm, hideout until the time is ripe, and then strike out swiftly and defiantly. 

None of this information and insight, unquestionably known to operatives and analysts within the Pentagon, is included in the report, ironically entitled “Protecting the Force – Lessons from Fort Hood.” The report displays more posturing than protecting and devotes a dozen or more pages to emergency response techniques and policies. That is exactly 11 pages more than the number devoted to even cursorily mentioning “Oversight of the Alleged Perpetrator.” 

Finally, the report only mentions fundamentalist Islam in the same context as all other “religious fundamentalism,” which the authors of the report describe as by itself “not a risk factor.” 

That conclusion is a learned and state-sponsored denial of the lessons we should have learned from the case of Major Hasan, the would-be Detroit bomber, Richard Reid, the Fort Dix Six, Hasan Akbar (the soldier who threw a grenade into a tent of his comrades), and others. And there will be others. The purported pied piper of many of these young terrorists, Anwar al-Awlaki, told readers of his blog that the only way for a young Muslim to justify serving in the United States armed forces was to “follow in the footsteps” of Nidal Hasan. There will be another Hasan and he will share similar motives. 

The larger, more potentially life-saving question is, how will the government of the United States respond to the next tragic attack? Will there be another report written next year about “an incident” that was inexplicably wrought by an “alleged perpetrator” who in the opinion of the investigators, might or might have been influenced by some sort of “religious-based violence?” Americans hope the answer is a clear and convincing “No,” but given the pallid, politically correct tenor of the official analysis of the Fort Hood shooting, there is little hope for that response.

Photo of Togo West, former Secretary of the Army (front) and Admiral Vernon Clark: AP Images