US intel aware that Fort Hood shooter tried to contact al-Qaeda

I want you to substitute everything we know about Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood terrorist, and instead of "Muslim" use "Christian" instead.

Do you really suppose that if Hasan had been spouting off about bombing abortion clinics and speaking approvingly of killing abortion doctors that he would have been allowed to stay in the army?

This is the stark, uncomfortable truth facing the United States government this morning. They knew about this fellow's sympathies. They had him dead to rights writing on a jihad internet site. They had witnesses who heard him talking like an al-Qaeda clone.

There's a reason for that last bit of evidence. According to Brian Ross of ABC News The Blotter , Hasan tried to contact al-Qaeda:

U.S. intelligence agencies were aware months ago that Army Major Nidal Hasan was attempting to make contact with people associated with al Qaeda, two American officials briefed on classified material in the case told ABC News.

It is not known whether the intelligence agencies informed the Army that one of its officers was seeking to connect with suspected al Qaeda figures, the officials said.One senior lawmaker said the CIA had, so far, refused to brief the intelligence committees on what, if any, knowledge they had about Hasan's efforts.

CIA director Leon Panetta and the Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, have been asked by Congress "to preserve" all documents and intelligence files that relate to Hasan, according to the lawmaker.

On Sunday, Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) called for an investigation into whether the Army missed signs as to whether Hasan was an Islamic extremist.

"If Hasan was showing signs, saying to people that he had become an Islamist extremist, the U.S. Army has to have a zero tolerance," Lieberman told Fox News Sunday.

I would not put it past the CIA to keep mum about Hasan's outreach to al-Qaeda. The agency hates sharing intelligence with anyone, as we saw with the 9/11 attacks. Apparently, little has changed since then which makes an attack just about as likely as it was on 9/10 in some respects.

But the issue here isn't the withholding of intel by the CIA or any other agency. To wit:

A fellow Army doctor who studied with Hasan, Val Finell, told ABC News, "We would frequently say he was a Muslim first and an American second. And that came out in just about everything he did at the University.

Finell said he and other Army doctors complained to superiors about Hasan's statements.

At the very least, Hasan's immediate superiors were probably aware of Hasan's radicalization. And this begs the question; what in God's name was this man still doing in the army?

No doubt that the military is overly sensitive about showing discrimination against Muslims, or singling them out because some of their number might be disloyal. The army wasn't so politically correct in World War II with Japanese; they simply placed them in segregated units - many of which performed magnificently, earning dozens of unit citations.

But if the military tried that today, there would be an outcry from Congress and rights groups. It will be argued by some in the coming days and weeks as we try to deal with the aftermath of the attack that this is precisely the way to go, that putting all Muslims in one place so that we can watch them is prudent. Others might argue that we should ban Muslims from serving in the military altogether.

Both options are wrong. It is not in our tradition to single out any citizen for how they worship God. If the First Amendment protections mean anything, that must be our guiding principle.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be able to deal severely with those Muslims who express disloyal and dangerous sentiments. What the Fort Hood massacre shows is that the army has bent too far the other way and that a balance between liberty and security must be established. Otherwise, we will be in danger of losing both.

 

I want you to substitute everything we know about Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood terrorist, and instead of "Muslim" use "Christian" instead.

Do you really suppose that if Hasan had been spouting off about bombing abortion clinics and speaking approvingly of killing abortion doctors that he would have been allowed to stay in the army?

This is the stark, uncomfortable truth facing the United States government this morning. They knew about this fellow's sympathies. They had him dead to rights writing on a jihad internet site. They had witnesses who heard him talking like an al-Qaeda clone.

There's a reason for that last bit of evidence. According to Brian Ross of ABC News The Blotter , Hasan tried to contact al-Qaeda:

U.S. intelligence agencies were aware months ago that Army Major Nidal Hasan was attempting to make contact with people associated with al Qaeda, two American officials briefed on classified material in the case told ABC News.

It is not known whether the intelligence agencies informed the Army that one of its officers was seeking to connect with suspected al Qaeda figures, the officials said.

One senior lawmaker said the CIA had, so far, refused to brief the intelligence committees on what, if any, knowledge they had about Hasan's efforts.

CIA director Leon Panetta and the Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, have been asked by Congress "to preserve" all documents and intelligence files that relate to Hasan, according to the lawmaker.

On Sunday, Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) called for an investigation into whether the Army missed signs as to whether Hasan was an Islamic extremist.

"If Hasan was showing signs, saying to people that he had become an Islamist extremist, the U.S. Army has to have a zero tolerance," Lieberman told Fox News Sunday.

I would not put it past the CIA to keep mum about Hasan's outreach to al-Qaeda. The agency hates sharing intelligence with anyone, as we saw with the 9/11 attacks. Apparently, little has changed since then which makes an attack just about as likely as it was on 9/10 in some respects.

But the issue here isn't the withholding of intel by the CIA or any other agency. To wit:

A fellow Army doctor who studied with Hasan, Val Finell, told ABC News, "We would frequently say he was a Muslim first and an American second. And that came out in just about everything he did at the University.

Finell said he and other Army doctors complained to superiors about Hasan's statements.

At the very least, Hasan's immediate superiors were probably aware of Hasan's radicalization. And this begs the question; what in God's name was this man still doing in the army?

No doubt that the military is overly sensitive about showing discrimination against Muslims, or singling them out because some of their number might be disloyal. The army wasn't so politically correct in World War II with Japanese; they simply placed them in segregated units - many of which performed magnificently, earning dozens of unit citations.

But if the military tried that today, there would be an outcry from Congress and rights groups. It will be argued by some in the coming days and weeks as we try to deal with the aftermath of the attack that this is precisely the way to go, that putting all Muslims in one place so that we can watch them is prudent. Others might argue that we should ban Muslims from serving in the military altogether.

Both options are wrong. It is not in our tradition to single out any citizen for how they worship God. If the First Amendment protections mean anything, that must be our guiding principle.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be able to deal severely with those Muslims who express disloyal and dangerous sentiments. What the Fort Hood massacre shows is that the army has bent too far the other way and that a balance between liberty and security must be established. Otherwise, we will be in danger of losing both.