On Friday, the Department of Defense released its report on the Fort Hood Massacre –“Protecting the Force: Lessons from Fort Hood.” It is a disgraceful document. Indeed, Ralph Peters does not exaggerate when he says:
Rarely in the course of human events has a report issued by any government agency been so cowardly and delusional. It’s so inept, it doesn’t even rise to cover-up level.
The report attributes the fact that the military did not identify the threat posed by the Nidal Hasan — it calls him “the alleged perpetrator” — to bureaucratic shortcomings in the acquisition and sharing of information. As to accumulating information, the report finds that “current definition for prohibited activities [by members of the armed forces] is incomplete and does not provide adequate guidance for commanders and supervisors to act on potential threats to security.” In addition, “there is no well-integrated means to gather, evaluate, and disseminate the side range of behaviorial indicators which could hlep our comomanders better anticipate and internal threat.”
Second, the report finds a “gap” in the sharing of information. According to the authors, “the mechanisms for sharing potential indicators of internal threats with appropriate command channels are limited.” The report calls for an end to allowing “bureaucratic concerns by specific entities over protecting ‘their’ information” to “prevent relevant threat information and indicators from reaching those who need it — the commanders.”
It is embarrassing for me to even type these words. As Peters notes, the signs that Hasan was a radical Islamist who might well be a danger were abundantly clear, nor were they not missed by his associates. And the fact that his associates did not share this information was not due to poor bureaucratic “architecture” or turf protection. The information was not shared because, given Hasan’s status as “the Army’s sole Palestinian-American psychiatrist,” his “superiors feared — correctly — that any attempt to call attention to his radicalism or to prevent his promotion would backfire on them, destroying their careers, not his.”
In other words, the culprit was “political correctness” not bureaucracy. PC got 14 people killed at Fort Hood, just as, according to Peters and other military experts, it gets them killed on the battlefield by virtue of rules engagement that protect our enemies.
I don’t mean to suggest that the concept of political correctness is absent from the DoD’s report. To the contrary, it haunts the document. For example, as Bill Bennett points out, the report does not mention the words “Islam” and “Muslim” once. It refers to Hasan as a “gunman” and “the alleged perpetrator.” (There is a separate, classified report on Hasan that I, of course, have not seen).
The report therefore demonstrates, in its own peculiar fashion, why no one took measures to counteract the threat that Hasan plainly posed. If a blue-ribbon, brass-plated panel can’t speak honestly about Hasan after he has butchered 14 of our people, how can we expect his supervisors to speak honestly about him before the fact? As Peters says, “ain’t many colonels willing” to do that.
What should the report have said? Here, I defer to Bennett:
An Islamic terrorist was raised in the United States and given a pass throughout his professional career in the United States military. His allegiance was not to his country but to his radical religion. He told his colleagues of this again and again. He didn’t set off signals, he set off sirens. And nothing was done. The military leadership didn’t take his words seriously, even as we were at war with people saying the exact same things he was saying. And the culture of the Army that coddled him was too well-represented by the Army chief of staff who, after the rampage, said “As horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.”
It was this thinking that led to us keeping Major Hasan in the Army and that diminished force protection. It was this culture that allowed a terrorist into the Army. It was this political correctness that led to the deaths of 14 innocents. And if you want to prevent another tragedy like this, you must end this infection of the mindset. I call it a tragedy because it was preventable. That it was not prevented is a shame on our institutions and indicative of a preemptive cultural surrender that I never thought would affect the U.S. military but, sadly, dangerously, has.
UPDATE: I should note that the panel that produced this report was co-chaired by Admiral Vern Clark, U.S. Navy (Ret.) and Togo West, Jr., who was Secretary of the Army for a time under Bill Clinton. In a sense they bear primary responsibility for this shocking evasion of a report. In another sense, however, they are simply the agents of a criminally mindless culture that is undermining not only our ability to “protect the force” but our ability to protect our society.