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See No Evil

The Pentagon’s Fort Hood investigation is a pathetic whitewash.

Feb 1, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 19 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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Last week, the Pentagon released the results of its investigation into the November 5 Fort Hood shooting (Protecting the Force: Lessons from Fort Hood). There is a large, publicly available body of evidence demonstrating that Defense Department personnel missed many warning signs in the years leading up to Major Nidal Malik Hasan’s shooting rampage. But by and large, with some small exceptions, the report’s authors were not interested in how the many warning signs were missed. 

See No Evil

The report begins by saying, in essence, that the system worked:


Leaders at Fort Hood had anticipated mass casualty events in their emergency response plans and exercises. Base personnel were prepared and trained to take appropriate and decisive action to secure the situation. The prompt and courageous acts of Soldiers, first responders, local law enforcement personnel, DoD civilians, and healthcare providers prevented greater losses.  

While we should be thankful that various individuals at Fort Hood acted in a “prompt and courageous” manner thereby preventing “greater losses,” it should never have gotten to that point. The Defense Department’s system is not working if it is left to first responders to stop a terrorist. A traitor within the military’s ranks, with compromised loyalties that had been known about for years—as was the case with Hasan—should be stopped before his finger is on the trigger.

Therein lies the central problem with the Pentagon’s report. It says nothing of consequence about Hasan or how to stop individuals like him in the future. Hasan is not even named in the report, but instead referred to as the “alleged perpetrator.” The report’s authors contend that the sanctity of the criminal investigation into the shooting needs to be upheld. But this is not an excuse for failing to name the attacker. The whole world knows that Major Nidal Malik Hasan did it. 

Nor is the ongoing criminal investigation a valid reason for avoiding a serious discussion of Hasan’s ideological disposition. The report’s authors instead go to lengths to whitewash Hasan’s beliefs.

The report lumps all sorts of deviant and problematic behaviors together as if they have the same relevance to the events of November 5. Thus, we find a discussion of alcohol and drug abuse, sexual violence, elder abuse, and the disgusting methods employed by child molesters. We also learn of the deleterious effects of events “such as divorce, loss of a job, or death of a loved one,” all of which “may trigger suicide in those who are already vulnerable.” 

Was Major Nidal Malik Hasan a child molester, a drug addict, or suicidal because of a recent divorce? No. So what does any of this have to do with the attack at Fort Hood? Absolutely nothing. 

What is relevant is Hasan’s religious and political beliefs. He is a jihadist, although you would never know it by reading the Pentagon’s report. Instead in the report’s “literature review of risk factors for violence,” one comes across this sentence:


Religious fundamentalism alone is not a risk factor; most fundamentalist groups are not violent, and religious-based violence is not confined to members of fundamentalist groups.

This is a true statement; it is also completely meaningless in respect to the Fort Hood massacre. The brand of religious fundamentalism practiced by Hasan is specifically devoted to violence. 

In the days following the November 5 shooting, the details of Major Nidal Malik Hasan’s life spilled out in the press. Within hours, witnesses had told reporters that Hasan shouted “Allah Akhbar!” as he opened fire. Hasan’s business cards were discovered in his apartment, and various publications carried pictures of them. There was no mention of his military service on the cards, but they did include the acronym “SoA,” short for “Soldier of Allah.” 

On November 10, Dana Priest of the Washington Post published a copy of a June 2007 presentation Hasan, a psychiatrist, gave to his colleagues at Walter Reed Medical Center, where he served prior to being transferred to Fort Hood. Hasan was supposed to discuss a topic related to his field, psychiatry. Instead, he defended suicide bombings and argued that Muslim soldiers “should not serve in any capacity that renders them at risk to hurting/killing believers unjustly.” Hasan warned that “adverse events” were likely if the Pentagon did not allow Muslim soldiers to become “conscientious objectors” in the war on terror. “We love death more then [sic] you love life!,” Hasan said.

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