Pentagon Fort Hood Massacre Review Finds Nothing New
The Pentagon has released its review of a shooting spree conducted by a radical Islamist Army major who gave every possible indication that he was a nut. It admits the obvious:
The military’s defenses against threats from inside its own ranks are outdated and ineffective, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said on Monday as he described the findings of a Pentagon review of the Nov. 5 shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas. Mr. Gates cited poor communications about internal threats to the security of personnel, as well as a weak supervision by commanders, as systemic problems with implications that go beyond the single case of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the military psychiatrist accused of the shootings.
The formal report, released at noon by the Pentagon, found that “some medical officers failed to apply appropriate judgement and standards of officership” when judging Major Hasan, and that more attention should have been paid to his overall performance rather than just his academic record.
Major Hasan behaved erratically and had questionable communications with a radical cleric during the years and months before the shootings, which killed 13 and injured 28 more, according to various officials monitoring the investigations that ensued. But his supervisors took no actions based on his behavior, and he was transferred to a combat unit at Fort Hood last summer.
Several officers may be held accountable for any failures in supervising Major Hasan during his psychiatric training in the Washington area, Mr. Gates said. He referred the recommendations to the Army for further review. He did not provide details, but the Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times, which first reported the findings overnight, said that as many as eight mid-ranking officers could face reprimands.
The preliminary review was conducted by Togo West, a former Secretary of the Army, and Adm. Vernon E. Clark, a former Chief of Naval Operations.
“It is clear that, as a department, we have not done enough to adapt to the evolving domestic internal security threat to American troops and military facilities that has emerged over the past decade,” Mr. Gates said. He said he was particularly concerned that the military does not seem to be alert to signs of radicalization in its own ranks, to be able to detect its symptoms or to understand its causes. Major Hasan’s commanders and supervisors, he suggested, may have lacked the clear authority or explicit channels for reporting any doubts they had about him. Indeed, troubling information about individuals is often withheld or filed discreetly away instead of being shared, he said.
All of this was widely known within days of the attack, so the findings are a blinding flash of the obvious. The key will be what, specifically, the orders are that go down that ranks.
Most obviously, the DoD will have to figure out how to get commanders, who have been socialized over the last two decades or more to avoid drawing attention to racial, ethnic, religious differences to have the courage to report suspicious behavior up the ranks — and to do so without creating a command climate that feels hostile to devout Muslims who are loyal soldiers.