When a lone gunman shot U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and eleven others in a Safeway parking lot in Tucson, Arizona, killing six people, the New York Times was quick to jump to conclusions. The shooter, the editors explained, "is very much a part of a widespread squall of fear, anger and intolerance that has produced violent threats against scores of politicians and infected the political mainstream with violent imagery." In fact, there was never any evidence that Jared Lee Loughner was part of anything outside his own paranoid delusions. The Times' mixed metaphor (squalls blow, pathogens infect) suggested a pathetic desire to connect the Tucson rampage to the Tea Party or maybe Sarah Palin.
The Times had been more circumspect a year earlier, after the Fort Hood shooting. On November 5, 2009, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan murdered 13 people and wounded 32 others. The Times warned against jumping to conclusions. "Until investigations are complete," the Newspaper of Record cautioned, "no one can begin to imagine what could possibly have motivated this latest appalling rampage. There may never be an explanation."
In fact any idiot could tell exactly what Hasan's motives were. He shouted "Allahu akbar!" he pulled the trigger. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security released a report on their investigation of the incident. What is most appalling about the Committee's report is that the Army and the FBI had plenty of reason to know well in advance what Hasan was and what he might do.
Major Hasan, an army psychiatrist, was promoted in spite of the fact that his performance was poor. He was promoted even though his superiors and pretty much all the soldiers who knew him recognized that he was adopting a radical, militarized version of Islam. A couple of his evaluators called him a "ticking time bomb". They were ignored. Maj. Hasan wrote a paper detailing his radical views and his sympathy for suicide bombers and he presented it to his fellow soldiers. His official evaluations explain that he had an interest in terrorism research.
The FBI knew that Hasan was in contact with known terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki. Awlaki's specialty is encouraging individuals to commit terrorist acts from afar, by means of online communications. He may have trained the Christmas Day Bomber. His writings inspired the Times Square Bomber, among many others. President Obama authorized the targeted killing of Awlaki by drone in 2011. Two Joint Terrorism Task Force units in FBI field offices in San Diego and Washington D. C. monitored Hasan's contact with Awlaki, but they did a poor job of pooling and sharing their information with one another. No serious investigation was carried out and by the middle of 2009, a few months before the attack, the FBI had lost all interest.
Hasan's court martial finally began last week, almost four years after his crime. "The evidence will clearly show that I am the shooter," he declared at the outset. It is said that someone who represents himself in court has a fool for a client. Hasan is no fool. He does not seem the least bit confused about what he did nor does he show any sign of wishing to deny it.
The Pentagon does seem confused. It refused to classify the shooting as an act of terror, preferring instead to call it "workplace violence." This has some unfortunate consequences for Hasan's victims. If this was not an act of terror then they are ineligible for Purple Hearts and can be denied certain benefits. The Pentagon sheepishly explained that classifying the crime as terrorism would make it harder to convict Hasan, something that is very hard to believe. What the military is doing is what it has long been doing with this self-described foot soldier in the mujahedeen: trying to ignore what is starkly obvious.
There is a pattern here. The Army and the FBI refused to see a terrorist hiding in plain sight, except for the hiding part. The New York Times remained in denial even after the self-professed Solider of Allah murdered a dozen soldiers of the United States. His military prosecutors would refuse to call him a terrorist if he had the word tattooed on his chest.
This is multicultural sensitivity run amok. More to the point, it is an example of the appalling timidity our elites in the press and the Administration are seized with when dealing with militant Islam. No, most Muslims are not terrorists and no, we aren't at war with Islam. We are in fact at war with various camps of mujahedeen scattered about the world. Those forces represent an existential threat to everything that our liberal democracy is about. When we try to be sensitive about this, it only sends the message that we are weak and that their murderous violence pays dividends.
We don't have religious tests for citizenship, or service on juries, or service in our armed forces. That is a very good thing. If you are prepared to obey the law and to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, we don't care in which direction you turn when you pray or if you pray at all. It is a good idea to encourage American Muslims to join the military and to give them the respect that all Americans are entitled to. However, it is far more important to recognize a ticking bomb before it goes off. Getting that backwards cost us dearly at Fort Hood.