“Internal Documents Reveal How the FBI Blew Fort Hood”
Pro tip: when Mother Jones thinks you’re overdoing it with the PC crap — however deftly they try to cover the implication — you’re probably moving so far left so fast that you are in danger of screwing yourself into the ground and burrowing directly through the earth. Which, if you happen to come out in China, well, how apropos.
Last Thursday, as the jury in the trial of Nidal Hasan was deliberating, outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller appeared on CBS News and discussed a string of emails between the Fort Hood shooter and Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Islamic cleric with ties to the 9/11 hijackers. The FBI had intercepted the messages starting almost a year before Hasan’s 2009 shooting rampage, and Mueller was asked whether “the bureau dropped the ball” by failing to act on this information. He didn’t flinch: “No, I think, given the context of the discussions and the situation that the agents and the analysts were looking at, they took appropriate steps.”
In the wake of the Fort Hood attacks, the exchanges between Awlaki and Hasan—who was convicted of murder on Friday—were the subject of intense speculation. But the public was given little information about these messages. While officials claimed that they were “fairly benign,” the FBI blocked then-Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s efforts to make them public as part of a two-year congressional investigation into Fort Hood. The military judge in the Hasan case also barred the prosecutor from presenting them, saying they would cause “unfair prejudice” and “undue delay.”
As it turns out, the FBI quietly released the emails in an unclassified report on the shooting, which was produced by an investigative commission headed by former FBI director William H. Webster last year. And, far from being “benign,” they offer a chilling glimpse into the psyche of an Islamic radical. The report also shows how badly the FBI bungled its Hasan investigation and suggests that the Army psychiatrist’s deadly rampage could have been prevented.
The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in San Diego, which was tracking Awlaki, intercepted Hasan’s December [2008 - a year before the Ft. Hood shootings] email, along with another sent in January. A search of the Pentagon’s personnel database turned up a man named Nidal Hasan who was on active military duty and was listed as a “Comm Officer” at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC.
The Senate investigation later found these reports “bore no resemblance to the real Hasan, a barely competent psychiatrist whose radicalization toward violent Islamist extremism alarmed his colleagues and his superiors.” Nevertheless, the DCIS investigator concluded, based on Hasan’s file, that the Army psychiatrist had contacted Awlaki in connection with his academic research and “was not involved in terrorist activity.”
[After the Ft Hood shooting] Reports of Hasan’s contact with Awlaki quickly surfaced in the media, but the contents of the emails were not made public. On November 8, 2009, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee launched its investigation. According to a former Senate staffer who was involved in the inquiry, the committee struggled to get information from the FBI, which was reluctant to hand over the Awlaki emails and refused to let congressional investigators interview the agents involved. “The FBI insisted that it would have a chilling effect on the people making front-line decisions if they had to worry constantly about Congress calling them in to explain their actions,” the staffer said.
The bureau eventually agreed to let congressional investigators review the emails, but only inside a secure facility. They weren’t allowed to copy the messages or write about them on computers that were connected to the internet, much less discuss them in their final report. Nevertheless, when he presented the committee’s findings in February 2011, then-Sen. Lieberman faulted the FBI and the Pentagon for failing to act on information that, “with the clarity of hindsight just shouts out, ‘Stop this guy before he kills somebody!’”
Reached for comment, Juan Williams just kept his mouth shut this time. Because he’s learned what happens when you break with the PC orthodoxy that is so crucial for the left in controlling thought and policy that it is worth the lives of a few US soldiers — and can be dismissed with a casual wave of the hand as a case of workplace violence once the ideological wagons are circled.
And we let it get to this point. Because it’s easier to “moderate” our speech than it is to fight the battles that defend our rights to it.
Shame on us.
(h/t geoff B)