Those who blamed political correctness for Army Major Nidal Hasan’s continued service while generating all sorts of red flags about his behavior will perhaps find themselves vindicated in an internal DoD review. The Associated Press reports that Hasan’s superiors in the chain of command were well aware of Hasan’s Islamist stridency and behavioral problems. None of them took steps to address them, though, and even gave him good fitness reports that allowed him to gain promotions:
A Defense Department review of the shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, has found the doctors overseeing Maj. Nidal Hasan’s medical training repeatedly voiced concerns over his strident views on Islam and his inappropriate behavior, yet continued to give him positive performance evaluations that kept him moving through the ranks.
The picture emerging from the review ordered by Defense Secretary Robert Gates is one of supervisors who failed to heed their own warnings about an officer ill-suited to be an Army psychiatrist, according to information gathered during the internal Pentagon investigation and obtained by The Associated Press. The review has not been publicly released.
Hasan, 39, is accused of murdering 13 people on Nov. 5 at Fort Hood, the worst killing spree on a U.S. military base.
What remains unclear is why Hasan would be advanced in spite of all the worries over his competence. That is likely to be the subject of a more detailed accounting by the department. Recent statistics show the Army rarely blocks junior officers from promotion, especially in the medical corps.
This review does not include the actions or inaction taken as a result from Hasan’s contacts with Anwar al-Awlaki. That aspect is being handled by criminal investigators looking to build a case against Hasan in his eventual trial or court-martial. This review is restricted to what the Army could have done to stop Hasan before he murdered fourteen people and wounded dozens more.
But it’s hard not to put the two together and wonder what Hasan’s superiors were thinking. Awlaki was a suspect in the 9/11 attacks who had fled the US to avoid capture, resurfacing in Yemen as an AQ recruiter and propagandist. If Hasan’s superiors were made aware of this contact, then these suspicions should have led immediately to the suspension of Hasan and an investigation of his activities.
Instead, the Army allowed Hasan to continue his progress despite knowing themselves that Hasan was getting more radical and more irrational. While the Army is loath to kick medical personnel out of the service, these particular issues should have resulted in some sort of action. At least for now, the appearance is that the Army was overly sensitive about challenging Hasan’s increasingly radical Islamism and his erratic behavior that sprang from it.
As I noted many times, John Brennan openly said during the campaign he wanted to dial back our hair trigger responses to possible threats. I think he and the President did just that, and 13 Americans were murdered as a result.
It is also interesting this report snuck out while the big mea culpa show on Flight 253 was attracting everyone’s attention. But I doubt Congress will miss this – at least I hope they don’t.
Some of these red flags popped up during the Bush administration, though, so we can’t lay it all on Obama.
Radio Vice Online has a good roundup of commentary.