When he was in his residency, studying psychiatry at Walter Reed Army Medical Center from 2003 to 2009, Nidal Hasan gave a lecture in which he defended Osama bin Laden, justified suicide bombers and suggested that Muslim Americans in the military–like him–could be prone to fratricidal attacks against fellow troops.
He was “a chronic poor performer,” who often failed to show up for work and was often on probation. His program director considered him “very lazy” and “a religious fanatic.”
His superiors described the first draft of a presentation needed to complete his residency as “not scientific,” “not scholarly”–but a rehash of Quoranic verses with no mention of a single medical or psychiatric term. Another presentation–in which he charged that U.S. operations abroad were part of a war against Islam–so angered his colleagues that an instructor stopped the speech. And yet the Army consistently gave Hasan positive evaluations and promoted him to major in 2009.
So says the Senate Homeland Security and Government Oversight Committee in a report released last week by Chairman Joe Lieberman and ranking Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.
Unfortunately, the report found that military culture was–and I would add, is–unprepared to take on the challenge. The fear of being accused of anti-Muslim discrimination, bureaucratic lethargy and even the Army’s insistence on keeping a poor candidate in a fellowship program rather than lose the slot, all worked to shield an officer whom an instructor and colleague branded a “ticking time bomb.”
Political correctness clearly reigns in the military after this bloody lesson. Last year, the Pentagon released a report, “Protecting the Force: Lessons from Fort Hood,” which never once referred to Islamist extremism. The report instead concentrated on workplace violence, even touting the U.S. Postal Service’s program to end workplace violence as the sort of program that could prevent another attack.
Army Secretary Togo West explained, “Our concern is with actions and effects, not necessarily with motivations.”