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COMMENTARY: LESSONS OF FORT HOOD

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The investigation into the shooting at Fort Hood, allegedly carried out by Nidal Malik Hasan, is continuing. That said, a number of lessons are already emerging –lessons necessary to prevent the next such attack (or much worse).

 

DUMP THE POLITICAL CORRECTNESS BALONEY

We need to recognize what we are at war with—jihadists who are using Islam to justify terrorism, murder, and genocide. These jihadists need to be monitored, with an eye toward preventing them from carrying out attacks. The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States protects the “free exercise of religion,” but such protections certainly do not include actions like strapping Semtex to one’s chest and detonating it in the middle of a pizza parlor or bus station, or taking a gun and shooting people who are doing no harm to anyone else.

 

The political correctness must also be halted for another reason. On multiple occasions, Hasan made statements that were disconcerting to his co-workers and his superiors. Yet no concrete action was taken until he opened fire on soldiers in the middle of Fort Hood. The missed warnings echo other mass-shooting tragedies, like Columbine.

 

The Army has been encouraging soldiers to act to prevent their fellow soldiers from committing suicide. Yet when it comes to preventing a jihadist within from shooting fellow soldiers, the Army is not there at all. It is past time to recognize that they are the enemy and say so. If politicians will not, they need to be voted out. If generals cannot, then they need to be retired sooner rather than later.

 

TERRORISM IS NOT A LAW ENFORCEMENT ISSUE

If one views terrorism as only a law-enforcement issue, then we will have more Fort Hoods, or worse. This was a lesson that had supposedly been learned in the 1990s. After the 1993 attacks at the World Trade Center, the Clinton–Reno Justice Department did put some of the jihadists responsible in prison.

 

The problem was two-fold: First, law-enforcement is inherently reactive. Local cops and firemen do a great job of handling the aftermath, and the FBI can round up terrorists, but all of that only kicks in after they have carried out their foul plans. While some stings have been successfully pulled off, will those approaches continue given the attitudes displayed by the Obama–Holder Justice Department?

 

Second, in the course of carrying out the justice process, intelligence was compromised under federal rules of discovery. Andrew McCarthy of National Review Online wrote in 2004 that “Under discovery rules that apply to American criminal proceedings, the government is required to provide to accused persons any information in its possession that can be deemed ‘material to the preparation of the defense’ or that is even arguably exculpatory.”

 

In October 2009, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey wrote about the trial of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing suspects in the Wall Street Journal, “It was later learned that soon after the government’s disclosure the list of unindicted co-conspirators had made its way to bin Laden in Khartoum, Sudan, where he then resided.”

 

ACT AS IF LIVES DEPEND ON IT

It goes without saying that lives depend on stopping terrorist attacks from happening in the first place. Victor Davis Hanson, a military historian and commentator, wrote in National Review Online a week after the shootings, “On average, in the 98 months since the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, a radical Islamic-inspired terrorist plot has been uncovered every four months.”

 

We go proactive in other potential life-threatening situations. Students in high schools are encouraged to tell someone if they think a fellow student is going on a rampage. We encourage people to tell if they think someone will commit suicide, or drive drunk. Action is even encouraged in some cases around those situations. So why is there the flinching when we seek people to proactively tell – or even act – when they think someone is a jihadist who is intent on harming others?

 

This is a potentially fatal double standard that needs to be discarded immediately – and needed to be discarded long before Fort Hood ever happened. When people hear statements or see something that indicates someone is a jihadist, whether the observer be someone in the intelligence community who notes posts on a jihadist web site or an Army psychiatrist who hears jihadist statements from a colleague, we need to encourage, even require them to pass it on.

 

KEEP THE EYE ON THE THREAT

Ultimately, stopping the next Fort Hood (or worse) comes down to treating the jihadist threat seriously. It means monitoring known jihadists. It means ensuring that there is a culture within the military that will allow people to report a suspected jihadist without worrying about their careers. It also means being willing to act when action is appropriate (sometimes the appropriate action is to let the jihadist do his thing for a bit in order to find other jihadists to monitor – or take down).