As details around Nidal Hasan's shooting
at Fort Hood military base continue to unravel, there appear to have been warning signs that the Army Major was a risk. Hasan,
an American Muslim deeply troubled
by the prospect of deploying in a war against other Muslims, had
warned openly that it was "getting harder and harder" for American Muslims soldiers to serve in the military, as the Washington Post reports
. Intelligence officials also say he exchanged
"10 to 20 messages" with radical imam Anwar al-Awlaki, who has ties to
Al Qaeda. With all the warning signs, Sen. Joe Lieberman has called for
an investigation into whether enough was done to foresee Hasan's crime.
- 'Federal Bureau of Non-Investigation' The Weekly Standard's Thomas Joscelyn is furious that the FBI didn't do more. "Why would a member of the U.S. military contact a major al Qaeda
ideologue to discuss his research? The only way that could be
justifiable is if that American serviceman was collecting intelligence
on Awlaki and his operations. But there is no evidence that this was
the case here. In fact, as press accounts have noted, 'no formal investigation'
into Hasan’s communications with Awlaki was ever launched. How, then,
could anyone say that his communications were consistent with anything
at all –- other than an Islamic extremist reaching out to a known al
- So Much For Warrantless Wiretaps Spencer Ackerman wonders
what happened to our extensive and unregulated intelligence system, of
which he is no fan. "How could U.S. intelligence have not communicated
this information to
the Army? On the presumption that the intel side did not — which is not
proven in the piece — I guess an explanation would be that the intel
people were gathering information for future use, but that’s divorced
from any actual evidence I possess. Still, there is an extensive
apparatus for surveilling people in this country with minimal-to-no
judicial oversight precisely for the warning signs of their connections to extremist organizations. How's that working out for us?"
- So E-Mailing Is A Crime Now? Marcy Wheeler points out
that we don't know the contents of the messages. She decries Rep. Pete
Hoekstra's accusation that intelligence agencies weren't gathering
enough data. "Of course, there’s no indication of what Hasan said to
but it seems clear that all the chatter in the press about al-Awlaki
seems designed to assert a claim that the imam led Hasan to do
Nevertheless, it’s pretty clear where Hoekstra wants this to go: to
the point where Fourth Amendment protections are rolled back further."
- Failure of Intel Communication The Atlantic's Megan McArdle wonders
what investigators could have really done to deter a lone gunman like
Hasan. "This particular attack would have been very hard to stop for
without doing terrible, terrible things to our Muslim citizens," she
writes. "Were we going to start kicking Muslims out of the government
and the armed forces?" But, on revelations of Hasan's attempts to
contact Al Qaeda associates, she concedes, "Maybe they were
slow-playing him, trying to get evidence on bigger
fish. Maybe. But I'm more inclined to believe that they failed to
communicate with each other, and in the case of the army, failed to do
the obvious thing and open an investigation into whether this fellow
should be separated from the army, and maybe watched pretty carefully."
- Military Must Dismiss Extremists Foreign Policy's Thomas Ricks insists that a backlash would be prevented by canning soldiers who, like Hasan, show visible signs of Muslim extremism. "There
appear to have been a number of warning signs.
Obviously, it is easy in retrospect to see them. But is there anything that can
be done differently? General Casey, the Army chief of staff, said over the
weekend that he is worried about a 'backlash'
against Muslim troops. I think the best way to prevent such an overreaction
would be to re-assure soldiers that the Army is uncovering and dismissing
Muslim soldiers who veer
into extremism." Ricks adds, "Was
he not let go for fear of appearing prejudiced? If so, someone is guilty of
moral cowardice, of failing to do the hard right thing instead of the easy
'Crackdown' Serves Only Al-Qaeda Foreign Policy's Marc Lynch implores us
not to get swept up by the argument that Fort Hood "somehow exposed a
contradiction between 'political correctness' and "security.'" He
Al-Qaeda and its affiliated ideologues don't just want their targets to
overreact with blanket crackdowns on the mainstream Muslim community --
they are counting on it. [...] A lot of people -- some well-meaning, some clowns or worse -- evidently
want the American response to the Ft. Hood shootings to revive the
post-9/11 "war of ideas" and "clash of civilizations" anti-Islamic
discourse. It's a jihad, they shout, demanding careful scrutiny of the
loyalty of American Muslims. That's what they seem to mean by the
demand to throw away "political correctness" and confront the
ideological menace. The overall effect of their recommendations,
however, would be to revive the flagging al-Qaeda brand and to greatly
strengthen the appeal of its narrative.
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