Update on the Fort Hood Massacre
The picture that is emerging of Maj. Nidal M. Hasan, the American-born Army psychiatrist who killed 13 people and wounded dozens of others at Fort Hood yesterday is of a deeply troubled and conflicted individual:
As authorities scrambled to figure out what happened at Fort Hood, a hazy and contradictory picture emerged of this son of Palestinian immigrants, a man who received his medical training from the military and spent his career in the Army, yet allegedly turned so violently against his uniformed colleagues.
Hasan was born in Arlington and grew up in the Roanoke Valley of southwestern Virginia, a bookish young man who, his father hoped, would go on to significant professional achievement. He spent nearly all of his Army medical career at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the District, caring for the victims of trauma, yet he spoke openly of his deep opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A longtime Walter Reed colleague who referred patients to psychiatrists said co-workers avoided sending service members to Hasan because of his unusual manner and solitary work habits.
Hasan “did not make many friends” and “did not make friends fast,” his aunt said. He had no girlfriend and was not married. “He would tell us the military was his life,” she said.
The psychiatrist once said that “Muslims should stand up and fight against the aggressor” and that the United States shouldn’t be fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the first place, according to an interview with Col. Terry Lee, a co-worker, on Fox News.
Press releases today indicate that Maj. Hasan was shot four times, was initially believed to be dead, but is now in stable condition.
Army Col. Steven Braverman said during a morning news briefing that the alleged shooter, military psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, hadn’t been a disciplinary issue since recently being transferred to Fort Hood from Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington. Col. Braverman declined to elaborate on the man at the center of the rampage, noting that a detailed probe was ongoing.
“We had no problems with job performance while he was working with us,” said Col. Braverman, one of Maj. Hasan’s superiors.
Army Col. John Rossi called Thursday’s shooting a “tragic incident” and said that investigators had spent the night carefully interviewing witnesses. Officials disclosed that one of the 13 killed in the shooting was a civilian, while the rest were members of the military.
As Col. Rossi noted, this was clearly a tragic incident all around. I certainly hope that the military takes steps to identify and head off potentially deadly problem situations such as this lonely, conflicted, probably terrified and angry man obviously (in hindsight) presented. I make no excuses for the perpetrator. He should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and, if convicted, pay the price whether being committed to a mental institution, a prison sentence for the rest of his life, or greater. As the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and, potentially, elsewhere stretch on the strains on individuals and families will become greater rather than less and special care will need to be taken to prevent repeats of this tragedy.