As an officer in the United States Army, I’m angry for so many reasons over what happened at Ft Hood. I’m angry that twelve of my fellow soldiers and a contractor were murdered. I’m angry that over thirty people have suffered life-altering injuries from which they will never fully recover. I’m angry that the lives of so many families have been forever ruined. I’m angry that this happened on an Army post on American soil where soldiers should be safe. And I’m angry that the murderer was a terrorist who masqueraded as an Army officer for half a dozen years.
But as angry as I am at what happened, I’m even angrier that it was allowed to happen. Apparently, there was no shortage of warning signs that this guy identified himself more with Islamic Jihadists than he did with the US Army. From speeches, writings, conversations, affiliations and postings on Jihadist websites, there were more than enough dots to connect that should have exposed this guy as someone inclined to attack innocent people in the furtherance of a political, religious and ideological agenda. There were more than enough red flags raised that, at a minimum, should have gotten Hassan kicked out of the Army.
But just like 9-11, those agencies and individuals charged with keeping America and Americans safe failed to connect the dots that would have saved lives. Jihadist rhetoric espoused by Hassan was categorically dismissed out of submissiveness to the concepts of tolerance and diversity. The Army as an institution has been neutered by decades of political correctness and the leaders in Hassan’s chain of command failed to act accordingly out of fear of being labeled anti-Muslim and receiving a negative evaluation report. The counterterrorism agencies knew this guy was communicating with Al-Qaeda and dismissed it as academic research, instead of delving deeper into the probability that a terrorist had infiltrated our ranks.
Even four hours after Hassan stood on a desk yelling Allah u Akbar and opened fire, the FBI stated that they were not investigating the attack as an act of terrorism, as there were still reports of other gunmen on the loose. Meanwhile, the Army continues to dismiss it as a “tragedy” and an “isolated incident by a lone gunman,” while the media has invented the psychological condition of post-traumatic stress disorder by proxy. There is more concern for promoting the appropriate information operation campaign and maintaining the illusion of safety than there is for actually exposing the weaknesses and faults in the system that allowed this to happen. We’re even being told that damage to the Army’s efforts at diversity would be a greater tragedy than the murder of the twelve soldiers—how ironic during the week of Veterans’ Day.
This has nothing to do with being anti-Islamic. After two years in Iraq and working with countless cultural advisors on Ft. Bragg, I know dozens of Muslims whom I respect and admire greatly. This has everything to do with force protection and security being trumped by the concepts of political correctness and diversity. This has everything to do with a hypocritical system and culture that breeds timidity and dismissiveness in the interest of career advancement. If I preached a white-supremacist ideology or described Timothy McVeigh as a hero to the cause of freedom and liberty, how long do you think I would still be in the military, drawing a salary, receiving educational benefits and getting promoted like Hassan did?
Hassan’s radical ideology grew to the point that he was able to commit mass murder because too many leaders were too afraid to lead, out of fear of harming their career or the image of the Army. If those leaders don’t have the intestinal fortitude, moral conviction or personal courage to stand up, speak up and protect soldiers, then retire, resign or get out of the way and let somebody else do it for you.
Major, US Army
Fort Bragg, NC