Terrorism? Fort Hood report doesn’t mention Islamic extremism.
At congressional hearings Wednesday on Fort Hood, House Armed Services Committee Republicans said Islamic extremism is the ‘800 pound gorilla’ in the room.
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The report’s respected authors, former Army Secretary Togo West and retired Navy Adm. Vernon Clark, said Defense Secretary Robert Gates did not charge them with finding out what happened. They were tasked with discovering whether there were any gaps or deficiencies that would hobble future efforts to identify internal threats and protect the force.Skip to next paragraph
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They added that Defense Department lawyers requested that they not discuss specifics of the Hasan case since it could jeopardize the Army’s court-martial case against him. Hasan faces murder charges, but no terrorism-related indictment.
Nevertheless, Mr. West said a key finding of the investigation is that the military does not adequately understand the process of what he called “self-radicalization.”
Pentagon needs to better understand today's hazards
“We can prepare better and we need to pay attention to today’s hazards,” he said. “We need to understand the forces that cause an individual to radicalize, to commit violent acts, and make us vulnerable from within.”
But asked directly about whether political correctness played a role in the failure of officers and promotion boards to pinpoint Hasan despite a number of warning signs, West balked.
“What we’re talking about [with political correctness] is: How do we do what we have to do to get information to spot people who are likely to harm service members versus how are we careful that in so doing we’re not taking steps that lump people into a group and [attribute] characteristics to the entire group,” West said.
But, he added, “I don’t think religion or theology are out of bounds when we’re looking for indicators of violence. “
But some lawmakers on Wednesday said they believe politics, not security concerns, played into the investigation – including the reasons given for why the public shouldn’t know that Hasan was promoted even after an alleged statement to colleagues that Sharia law trumps the US Constitution.
“This is another incident in a long pattern of information withheld from the public that is neither germane to national security interests or impinging on legal processes,” said Rep. Mike Coffman (R) of Colorado. “A lot of information that has come before this committee has been classified merely because it’s politically embarrassing.”
West would not answer whether the attack was, in fact, terrorism. “I’m going to pass on whether it was an act of terrorism,” West said. “But I know people who died there were terrified and the people who were wounded were, too.”
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