Did political correctness, Army gun rule trigger Fort Hood?
December 1, 2009
by Joseph P. Tartaro
A key US senator said on Nov. 8 that he would begin an investigation into whether the Army missed signs that the man accused of opening fire at Fort Hood had embraced an increasingly extremist view of Islamic ideology, the Associated Press reported.
Sen. Joe Lieberman’s call for the investigation came as word surfaced that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan apparently attended the same Virginia mosque as two (some reports said three) Sept. 11 hijackers in 2001, at a time when a radical imam preached there. Whether Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, associated with the hijackers is something the FBI will probably look into, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
Wire services also reported that classmates of Hasan participating with him in a 2007-2008 master’s program at a military college complained repeatedly to superiors about what they considered Hasan’s anti-American views. Dr. Val Finnell said Hasan gave a presentation at the Uniformed Services University that justified suicide bombing and told classmates that Islamic law trumped the US Constitution.
Another classmate said he complained to five officers and two civilian faculty members at the university. He wrote in a command climate survey sent to Pentagon officials that fear in the military of being seen as politically incorrect prevented an “intellectually honest discussion of Islamic ideology” in the ranks. The classmate also requested anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, wants Congress to determine whether the shootings constitute a terrorist attack.
“If Hasan was showing signs, saying to people that he had become an Islamist extremist, the US Army has to have zero tolerance,” Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“He should have been gone,” Lieberman said.
But there are many more questions that need to be answered as civilian government officials, the White House and the military dance around the issue of whether or not they were afraid of pursuing complaints against a Muslim military officer because it might have offended other Muslims in the military as well as some Muslims in the public at large. If they did not follow up on the complaints against Hasan because they were dodging other controversial aspects of the question, someone needs to retrain the Pentagon’s top brass about what their real mission is. Being politically correct is not part of their mission or their responsibility to the soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen under their command.
If Lieberman’s investigation ever gets off the ground, it might also want to publicly review the wisdom of the military policy first imposed in the early 1990s by the Clinton Administration that disarms the American military in the Zone of the Interior.
At a much earlier time, when I was in the Army infantry stateside, we enlisted men always had rifles (M1s) and bayonets stacked in racks in the aisle running between the bunks running in the center of our barracks. We pretty much carried those rifles everywhere to almost every class or other event. We didn’t have live ammunition issued unless we were on guarding prisoner details or were on the range or in an exercise that required live fire. Heavier weapons like the BARs and light .30 MGs were stored nearby at company level. Officers and noncoms who were authorized to carry issue or licensed sidearms on post were trusted to do so.
The only time we enlisted men did not have a rifle or other arm was while in transit from one base to another. When we arrived at a “repel depot” overseas we were immediately issued a new rifle, carbine and bayonet as well any clothing required for the theater of operations.
In those days, the base was guarded by special assignments or MPs, but nowadays, it is civilian police, as are the cooks and transport people. I guess such duty assignments were eliminated as military occupations when the size of our volunteer military was cut down.
However, the Clinton policy treated the members of the armed forces like so many children in school, with the same view of their access to anything that might be construed to be a “dangerous weapon.” Maybe they are not even allowed to carry their own cutlery or pocket knives any more.
Whatever the true circumstances at Fort Hood, authorities continue to refer to Hasan, 39, as the only suspect in the shootings that killed 13 and wounded 29, but they won’t say when charges would be filed and have said they have not determined a motive. Actually, earlier reports said that there may have been one, or even two, additional shooters, but those statements have never been explained. Hasan, who was shot by civilian police to end the rampage, was still reported in critical but stable condition at an Army hospital in San Antonio as this issue of Gun Week went to press on Nov. 9.
Over the weekend, Army authorities finally listed the identities of the casualties of the Fort Hood massacre. There are now 13 dead and 29 wounded, of which 16 remained hospitalized with gunshot wounds, and seven were in intensive care.
Hasan was reported still breathing on his own after being taken off a ventilator the day after the shooting at the Army’s largest military base, but officials wouldn’t say whether Hasan can communicate.
And Army Chief of Staff George Casey warned against reaching conclusions about the suspected shooter’s motives until investigators have fully explored the attack. “I think the speculation (on Hasan’s Islamic roots) could potentially heighten backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, outreach director at the Dar al Hijrah Islamic Center, said he did not know whether Hasan ever attended the Falls Church, VA, mosque but confirmed that the Hasan family participated in services there. Abdul-Malik said the Hasans were not leaders at the mosque and their attendance was utterly normal.
In 2001, Anwar Aulaqi was an imam, or spiritual leader, at the mosque. Aulaqi told the FBI in 2001 that, before he moved to Virginia in early 2001, he met with 9/11 hijacker Nawaf al-Hazmi several times in San Diego. Al-Hazmi was at the time living with Khalid al-Mihdhar, another hijacker. Al-Hazmi and another hijacker, Hani Hanjour, attended the Dar al Hijrah mosque in early April 2001.
Aulaqi currently has a website which, according to wire service reports, was praising Hasan for the mayhem and death he delivered at Fort Hood on Nov. 6. Aulaqi was also urging other soldiers of the Muslim faith, to emulate Hasan’s deadly attack.
The anti-gunners, of course, stand around rending their garments like the heroine in a B-Western and wondering “must always be gun violence?”
Bill Mann, a TV-radio critic who blogged on The Huffington Post Nov. 8, was perhaps typical of his breed.
“I don’t really care that much about what drove Hasan to apparently murder all those soldiers, which has been the prime focus of nonstop cable news. The fact is, he did. What I DO care about is how easy it was for him to get the meansa lethal gunto do it.”
Mann and other anti-gunners like him are in denial about the fact that their policies contributed to so many deaths and injuries in a the military that has been disarmed by the military. Hasan is reported to have fired over 100 shots from two “legal” handguns. Amazingly, during all his reloads, no one successfully blunted his attack.
When all is said and done, I wonder if Mann, Bill Clinton, the folks at the Brady Campaign and the Violence Policy Center will have the chutzpah to say thanks to any veterans on Nov. 11.
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