Senate Investigation Slams Pentagon on Fort Hood

The Senate Homeland Security Committee headed by Senators Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins issued a report claiming that the Fort Hood massacre could have been prevented had the military authorities acted on the information that they possessed.  A combination of bureaucratic sloth and political correctness prevented the proper measures.

Robert Gates
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Robert Gates

While the report came down on the FBI for concentrating on physical terrorism “as opposed to whether he was radicalizing to violent Islamist extremism and whether this radicalization might pose counterintelligence or other threats”,   the more severe criticism was reserved for the Department of Defense and the Army. The Army had ample warning of Major Nidal Malik Hassan’s views, including support for some of Bin Laden’s actions (i.e. that  9/11 could be explained as revenge), the notion that the West was at war with Islam and that his religion took precedence over the US Constitution.

Despite his poor academic performance, Hassan received promotions which ignored misgivings “The officers who kept Hassan in the military and moved him steadily along knew full well of his problematic behavior,” the report found. “As the officer who assigned Hassan to Fort Hood (and later decided to deploy Hassan to Afghanistan), admitted to an officer at Fort Hood, ‘you’re getting our worst.'”

This policy was motivated in part by political correctness:

“A belief that Hassan provided understanding of violent Islamist extremism as well as the culture and belief of Islam:  Some of Hassan’s superiors thought that his controversial projects on violent Islamist extremism were constructive.  A senior Walter Reed official concluded that Hassan’s Grand Rounds presentation  (where Hassan rambled on from the Koran)  addressed “a controversial topic with a degree of thoughtfulness and a degree of reflection that  … was evenhanded.”

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This attitude, concluded the report, went all the way to the top, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates.  Neither of Secretary Gates’ two memoranda following the Army’s own investigations and recommendations “mentions violent Islamist extremism explicitly.  Both memoranda continue to downplay the unique threat of violent Islamist extremism by portraying it as a subset of a more general threat – either workplace violence or undefined “extremism”

This omission is dangerous because it ” signals to the bureaucracy as a whole that the subject is taboo and … actions to confront radicalization to violent Islamist extremism will be inefficient and ineffective. ” The Report recommended that the Army adopt the same attitude to Muslim extremism as it did to white racism “so that commanders will not be reluctant to deal with displays of violent Islamist extremism.”


Source material can be found at this site.

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