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megimoo
11-22-2009, 05:00 PM
Malign Neglect,Political correctness and institutional stupidity in the case of Nidal Malik Hasan.

Attorney General Eric Holder spoke with confidence and authority before the Senate Judiciary Committee last Wednesday when asked how he would prevent another attack like the one committed by Nidal Malik Hasan at Fort Hood.
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Were there flags that were missed? Were there miscommunications or was there a lack of communication?

Holder promised a "sound investigation" of the shooting.

It was a nice try, but Holder's tone did little to disguise the speciousness of his words. We already know the answer to the three questions Holder posed. There were flags that were missed. There was miscommunication. And there was a lack of communication.

The relevant question is not whether there were errors, but why--after eight years of restructuring our national security and intelligence infrastructure to prevent such failures--there were grave errors that cost 13 people their lives.

The answer to that question is becoming all too clear: a deadly combination of political correctness and institutional stupidity. And in the days since the Fort Hood attack, those characteristics have remained on prominent display--both at the top of the Justice Department and in its ranks.

During an exchange at the Judiciary Committee hearing, Senator Herb Kohl, a Democrat from Wisconsin, reminded Holder that the FBI had known about Hasan before the attacks. "Major Hasan came to the attention of the FBI last December because of emails that he had written to a known terrorism suspect. But the FBI did not pursue an investigation of him because they concluded that the emails were consistent with his research at Walter Reed."

Holder allowed that the "inter-action between Hasan and other people" was "disturbing."

That may not seem like a big admission, but it was a major reversal of the official line over the previous two weeks.

Within days of the shooting, reports began to surface that Hasan had been in email communication with a jihadist imam and al Qaeda recruiter named Anwar al Awlaki.

Awlaki had ties to three 9/11 hijackers, had been investigated by the FBI twice, had been detained in Yemen at the request of the U.S. government, and was an ongoing concern--as the monitoring of his email makes clear. His sermons had served as inspiration for plotters of several attacks over the past few years. He was a dangerous man. And we knew it.

Yet FBI officials said immediately after the shooting that the bureau was not considering the possibility of Hasan being linked to terrorists.

Then, rather than disown their previous comments when the information about Awlaki came to light, the FBI sought to downplay the significance of the communications.

In a statement, the FBI said that analysts from a Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF)
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Because the content of the communications was explainable by his research and nothing else derogatory was found, the JTTF concluded that Major Hasan was not involved in terrorist activities or terrorist planning.

FBI officials assured reporters on background that the communications were "benign."

It was a foolish claim. Even if the content of the emails was "benign," the fact that there were such emails could not be.

What was a senior U.S. Army officer doing contacting an imam who had been close to 9/11 hijackers? And now we know more about the content of the emails. They were not "benign" at all.

Early last week, the Washington Post published an interview with Awlaki. Hasan apparently first contacted Awlaki on December 17, 2008, and was interested in his views on sharia law and jihad, among other things.

Awlaki--who praised Hasan as a "hero" after the shooting--denies that he ordered the attack.

But according to the Post, six days after Hasan first reached out to him Awlaki "posted online words encouraging attacks on U.S. soldiers, writing: 'The bullets of the fighters of Afghanistan and Iraq are a reflection of the feelings of the Muslims towards America.' "

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In the emails, Hasan appeared to question U.S. involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and often used "evidence from sharia that what America was doing should be confronted."

There are, of course, many reasons not to trust the words of an al Qaeda cleric. But late last week, ABC News offered more details of the 18 emails between Hasan and Awlaki. In one, Hasan tells Awlaki, "I can't wait to join you" in the afterlife. Citing officials familiar with the emails, ABC reported that Hasan also asked Awlaki "when is jihad appropriate, and whether it is permissible if there are innocents killed in a suicide attack."

Got that? A serving U.S. Army officer and devout Muslim emails an al Qaeda recruiter to ask about jihad and collateral damage from attacks, and the FBI, with knowledge of the content of those emails, assures the press they are "benign."

Unbelievable.