Don’t Ask

Ace looks at one of the obvious lessons from the Fort Hood massacre. Now, there are inevitably a few people calling for a blanket ban on Muslims in the military (indeed, Dr. Hasan was one of them), and for a variety of reasons that should be obvious, that’s going too far. The harder question is, should the military be acting more aggressively to root out servicemembers with jihadist sympathies before this sort of thing recurs, and what steps it should be taking to conduct such investigations.
But the easy question is what should be done when the evidence is open and obvious that a member of the military sympathizes with the nation’s sworn enemies rather than his own country. That’s exactly what was present here, and a climate of politically correct fear seems to have inhibited anybody from doing anything about it.

28 thoughts on “Don’t Ask”

  1. The first thing to consider the military does not operate under normal civilian rules. To even consider a blanket ban on all Muslims or put them under greater scrutiny is ignorant and ignores basic common sense and knowledge of how the Military operates. As the facts about Major Hasan trickles out the red flags were there. It seems everybody around him thought it was the other guys responsibility to run him up the chain of command as a problem solider. It seems the only thing that was done was he was given low Fit-reps. Anyone in the military knows part of their job is to keep an eye on your fellow solider for signs of trouble. This tragedy could have been avoided if the Officer’s around him had done their duty of reporting his erratic behavior and his superiors had done the job of investigating the reports of his peers. That is in military leadership 101. So, before people run off and only keep Muslims under scrutiny let us address the problem as a whole of not keeping an eye on all of our troops.

  2. javaman, I agree that the military is different – I’m not arguing that it would be at all reasonable to apply a higher standard of scrutiny to Muslims in private business or even in local police departments – but you are ignoring the question of why nobody reported Hasan. I think the facts we have pretty clearly suggest that it’s not due to any general problem with military discipline so much as a fear specific to reporting Muslim soldiers.

  3. Given the level of political correctness we have in this country, my guess is that this will happen again. PC is so ingrained in our thinking that it paralyzes the decision making process. No one is going to correct the behavior any member of a victim group prior to such an event unless laws are broken. I hope I am wrong but I don’t see any meaningful reforms coming to the Army from this event.

  4. What is your basis for the contentionthat there is a PC-based fear of reporting Muslims? (So the spongeworthy’s of the world don’t get their knickers in a knot, I think he should be tried and, if not insane, executed.)
    Many Muslim soldiers have reproted the harassment they’ve experienced in the military simply by reason of being Muslim. There does not seem to be a PC culture in the military at all. (See also, treatment of homosexuals.)
    I think it is too soon to know whether his religious beliefs were the driving force of his actions. From what I’ve read, he seems to have been a lonely, disturbed individual who had a great fear of facing hazardous conditions in Iraq.
    O/T here, but what did you think of the President’s speech at Fort Hood?

  5. Knowing the military as I do. It seems a lot of people in the position to address this problem took the easy way out. They gave him poor Fit-Reps which means he would have washed out when his commission was over. The other thing it also appears the military wanted a return on the educational investment they made in him. These two things happens all the time. I think being PC is just a cop-out for the military Officers that failed to perform their duty of leadership.

  6. javaman,
    Are there career consequences for falsely accusing a Muslim officer of being a Jihadi through proper channels? Are there career consequences to investigating such a report if it turns out to be false?
    If the answer to either of those is yes, then there you go, that is the chilling effect that stopped them from dealing with this the “proper” way. Would those same consequences exist for accusing or investigating an accusation of a white guy of being sympathetic to the militia movement and thinking about active rebellion against the American Government? If the answer is no, then the reason for the chilling effect are PC, pure and simple.

  7. Nobody,
    That is not a black and white answer to either question. Here is how the military does it. From all reports he had terrible Fit-Reps which basically means his career was dead. He could have been investigated and charged for for Conduct unbecoming of an Officer. If the reports are true about some comments to his classmates. Those comments warranted investigation or at least documentation that they were made. Those comments are a clear cut case of conduct unbecoming. From my perspective his chain of command used the Fit-Rep as the means to address the problem and not looking at him closer as a problem soldier. Once again saying PC caused the problem is a cop out because the military works on an honor system.

  8. javaman,
    I don’t see that you addressed my questions. I understand that it isn’t so black and white, but these things are not, that is my point. You don’t know if you make the accusation if it will stick. If it doesn’t stick, you end up looking bad. How bad? If it is a case of the hypothetical Militia sympathizer and the Jihadi Muslem being equal, then I would agree, PC is not the explanation.
    However, we are seeing with our own eyes top army brass being PC. Speaking of the importance of protecting the diversity of the military, etc. Diversity here meaning diversity of politically correct approved groups, lets not pretend otherwise. The army isn’t looking at recruiting numbers and thinking about how to get more Jews to join.
    So I suspect strongly that the Militia sympathizer and the Muslim soldier are not equally regarded, but rather the sensibilities of the Muslim are better protected. Hence the view that PC is a big part of what is going on.

  9. If it was all about PC why did he receive poor Fit-Reps? A couple bad Fit-Reps and your career is over so if it was about diversity his Fit-Reps would have been artificially inflated.

  10. Nobody:
    There’s a very practical reason for the military to want more Muslims in its ranks – many of them speak the language and understand the culture in the most important theaters of war in which the US is engaged. It’s a difficult and important relationship that they’re correct to manage carefully.

  11. As Javaman said things are not black and white. No two cases are identical. Having said that, it is obvious that regardless of the reason Hasan’s warning signs were not fully dealt with. I disagree with the thought that he had a horrible fitness report and his career was over. It has been reported that he got a substandard report. However, he was not a line officer where one bad report could derail a career. Staff corps officers including medical officers are in greater need and less likely to be quickly kicked to the curb.
    More directly to Crank’s post is the question of how well we recognize certain danger signs in individuals. With 25 years in the Navy I know we handle some problems easier than others. We have no problem with quickly identifying some potential crazy folks. If a sailor showed any evidence of racism they were quickly out the door. Skinheads, neo-nazi’s, druggies were dispatched pretty fast. I don’t know that it is necessarily political correctness (might be) that made people scared to report Hasan. Bureaucracies are very fear driven. Commanding Officers (and others in leadership) have learned over the decades to be afraid of failing to deal with racism. A CO with a race problem in his command (or even a perceived one) who failed to go overboard to deal with it knew his career was toast. With Hasan the fear of failing to fully to deal with an outspoken borderline crazy “soldier” wasn’t sufficient to make leadership take action. Also, the various red flags we are all hearing about now in a short time span were not all presented to a supervisor at once. He said garbage to several (many?) different people at different times and it isn’t like we all get together and discuss the crazy guy at work. Mistakes were made, but we don’t have enough information to say for sure that people were hesitant to report his behavior because of political correctness.

  12. javaman,
    Because it was safe, even within the PC context to give him a poor Fit-Rep. When you have a PC situation it doesn’t mean that *everything* is taboo, just things having to do with his Muslim religion. Evidence of being a Jihadi – taboo. Evidence of not doing a good job, safe.
    I think you are making my point. The PC influence drives the direction of the fear. Racism – not tolerated, even the appearance of same, must be stamped out, take no chances. A solder sympathetic and supportive of the enemy and its ideology (Radical Islam), not so much. That is the core of the problem. It should be *at least* as unacceptable to have a Jihadi Muslem soldier as a racist white soldier.
    I absolutely agree the Army should not discriminate against Muslims. Besides for the reasons you mention, it is an important component of the ideological battle as well. If the Army is excluding Muslims just because they are Muslims, then that gives fuel to the enemy’s position that we are at war with Muslims.
    However, that has to be balanced. The fact of the matter is that although not all Muslims are the enemy, all of the enemy are Muslims in this war. That means that any given Muslim needs more scrutiny to ensure they are not Jihadi. PC blinders on this point will get more people killed and further embolden the enemy.

  13. I’m not sure I’m buying the story that there are no white supremacists (or those who sympathize with them) in our military.
    In fact, “Stars and Stripes” took a look at the “New Saxon” Web site, and among other items came across 130 members who list their occupation as “military”.
    When recruitment numbers are down, which it had been from 2003-2007 (I realize it has increased with the economic downturn) you need to lower your standards to get the bodies needed to fight wars. BTW, we also allowed more criminals into the military recently to increase recruitment numbers.

  14. Crank,
    My original resposne went into the review black hole for some reason and did not get posted.
    Yes, I read the link and found Ace’s “evidence” to be rather thin; one anonymous officer quoted in Time magazine. I also posted a link to an article in the Washignton Post about harassment of Muslims in the military.

  15. Berto,
    Can only speak for the Navy (I assume other services have similar standards), but I guarantee any white-supremacists (or sympathizers) in the service are not open about it. It is like being into child porn. Sure, the are probably some folks in the service that are into kiddie porn but unlike our guy Hasan they are not open about it.
    As far as your claim that we have more criminals, I also disagree with that idea. We have always had some people with past problems. In the Navy an applicant with one misdemeanor has to go through an additional waiver interview with a senior officer to ensure (as much as possible) that the misbehavior is in their past and not going to be repeated. More than one non-minor misdemeanor or a felony required a full waiver kit with multiple references which is submitted to Recruiting headquarters for approval or disapproval. Those accepted are (hopefully) no longer criminals, but rather people who screwed up and are now trying to take a better path.

  16. In 2006 and again in 2009, the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group which monitors racist and right-wing militia groups, concluded:
    A decade after the Pentagon declared a zero-tolerance policy for racist hate groups, recruiting shortfalls caused by the war in Iraq have allowed “large numbers of neo-Nazis and skinhead extremists” to infiltrate the military, according to a watchdog organization…
    The report quotes Scott Barfield, a Defense Department investigator, saying, “Recruiters are knowingly allowing neo-Nazis and white supremacists to join the armed forces, and commanders don’t remove them from the military even after we positively identify them as extremists or gang members.”

  17. My fellow shipmate Largebill kind of hits the nail on the head. There are certain types of people the military will not tolerate. And when they are found to be such people they are removed rather quickly. Berto, the key word is being found, certain types of bad people hide in plain sight. Also, another nail in the PC theory is Hasan served in an career field that had a severe shortage. Which in military terms means short of being totally incompetent he would not have washed out but been pushed along to be the next commands problem. Add that to the fact the cost of the training, two keep factors the military uses when deciding to kick people out that do not fit undesirable category. Sad but true headcount and cost played a very large role in this tragedy.

  18. I wasn’t making a counter-argument Berto, I’ll let those with relevant military experience do that. But if you are actually trying to convince people here of the rightness of your position, you are going to have to use a more credible source than the SPLC, a group that thinks anybody to the right of you is a racist right-wing militia group.

  19. javaman,
    You say: “There are certain types of people the military will not tolerate. And when they are found to be such people they are removed rather quickly.”
    Apparently the type of people not tolerated does not include Jihadi sympathizers. It should, and the most obvious reason that it is not (given the PC genuflection on the part of Army Brass here) is a PC fear of appearing to have an issue with Muslims or Islam.

  20. Things we know about the military.
    1. If said training is very expensive they are reluctant to boot anyone from that training
    2. If person is in a career field with a severe shortage they are reluctant to boot that person from training
    Hasan fits these two categories
    Items one and two will be ignored for a druggie and a racist as largebill pointed out earlier. These two types of people can kill a commanders career.
    True story once while stationed on Navy Ship we had a guy in our division who threaten suicide. Once word of him being possibly suicidal read our D.O. , he was on the next COD leaving this took less than an hour.
    Once again not PC, life just is not that simple.

  21. javaman,
    I accept what you are saying that Hasan had extra “protection” by virtue of his expensive training in a field with a shortage (I didn’t check that there is a shortage in Psychiatry in the military, but it is obviously an expensive field). However, you are saying that a druggie, racist and suicidal soldier would have been booted out on a dime, but apparently not a Jihadi sympathizer.
    So a sympathizer’s to the enemy’s philosophy and views are not as unacceptable as a racist. I maintain that this is for PC reasons. My reason for thinking so is the public reaction of Army Brass in the media (as well as plain old common sense about what motivates tiptoeing around the issue of Muslims in general).
    What is your alternative explanation?

  22. Nobody,
    I think Largebill summed it up best, it is not like they all sat around the watercooler an discussed this guy. He had bad fit-reps and still was promoted, which means as a major he was a descent rank and people look at the O-4 slightly different than the average solider. Please understand your perfect PC solution just does not fit no matter how hard you try. You really have to understand military culture. There are other times in the military where problem soldiers are just passed along to the next command. Also, you have to realize all the stuff about this guy is rolling out at once. If all this stuff about him happened over a three year period in drip and drops nobody would have noticed. But if you look at it as all one big thing excluding dates and times it seems like a giant red flag.

  23. javaman,
    I agree that the giant red flag we see now is 20/20 hindsight, but there are plenty of single incidents which were as large as a single threat of committing suicide. The fact of the matter is that Jihadi sympathy does not rank as high as possible suicidal depression. The only reasonable explanation is PC worldview.
    I posted the link in a different comment that got swallowed in moderation, but we have this from NPR:
    “Plus, one of the key officials at Walter Reed, who’s close to the policy committee, told me that they – some of the members sat around saying, and how would it look if we kick out one of the few Muslim residents in our program?”
    PC was a factor here. This guy had too many single incidents to not have *one* of them make someone aware that he likely has a Jihadi sympathies and report it, if the safe thing to do with Jihadi sympathizers is to report them, but of course, he is one of the few Muslims in the program so …

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