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January 26, 2010
War as Political Correctness By Other Means
First we had Army Chief of Staff General George Casey, as 13 soldiers lay dead by the hand of Islamic radical Major Nidal Hasan, warning that a worse tragedy would be if the Army lost its focus on diversity as a result of the carnage.
Then there was the report of the "independent" commission -- co-chaired by career Washington insider and former Secretary of the Army Togo West -- that failed to consider, or at least mention that radical Islam or terrorist proclivities may have played a role in the "incident."
Now we have Army Surgeon General Eric Schoomaker asserting that there was no way that Hasan's superiors "could have predicted" Hasan's murderous rampage.
Talk about a failure to connect the dots.
Here is what was known about Hasan prior to his contribution to the global jihad:
He continually and increasingly espoused radical views, including a justification of the suicide bombing of innocents, and the conviction that Shari'a law should trump the Constitution in American jurisprudence.
He used fora and media designed to present and discuss topics relevant to Army psychiatry to promote his extremist religious views to his peers.
Hasan was in regular contact with Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical American-born cleric now living in Yemen, who openly advocates violent jihad against American and Western targets.
He was a devotee of jihadist websites, where he identified himself as an SoA, or Soldier of Allah, and carried business cards indicating the same affiliation.
Hasan retained legal counsel to help him prematurely leave the Army and avoid deployment.
The Army outlaws participation in extremist organizations, prescribing expulsion for membership in or open support of "organizations that espouse supremacist causes," or "seek to discriminate based on race, religion or other factors" or "advocate force or violence."
His peers and superiors complained about Hasan's behavior, attitudes and performance, but failed to formally recommend expulsion from the Army psychiatry program, and indeed, from the Army. Hasan's performance record alone justified such action.
The Army promoted him instead. Relatively junior officers will likely pay for this mistake -- perhaps rightfully -- with their careers or more.
But the political correctness and organizational CYA on display by top military and civilian leaders in the various post mortems of Hasan's depraved actions are the real culprits. Their pervasive and pernicious influence created the disincentives to hold Hasan accountable for his outrageous and clearly proscribed behavior, and the environment in which a disaffected loser who happened to be Muslim in a shortage occupational specialty could be promoted to Field Grade Officer, and go on to slaughter 13 of his fellow Soldiers. Don't hold your breath waiting for that assessment to come through official channels.