Inside the Ring

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Rep. Ike Skelton, Missouri Democrat and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, on Sunday sidestepped questions about whether the Army had failed to take action against Maj. Hasan despite knowing he had voiced anti-American statements to soldiers he had counseled.

Asked on CBS’ “Face the Nation” whether someone should have caught Maj. Hasan, Mr. Skelton said: “That could very well be true. But let’s wait until the investigation is over. If that is the case, they’ll be front and center. But right now, let’s give them a few days to find out just where the ball was dropped, if that’s the case.”

On the same program, Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said there should not be an overreaction to the attack. “About this case, you know, it’s easy to second-guess,” Mr. Graham said. “And I’m not going to go down that road yet. I mean, does every soldier who shows discontent with the war and every soldier that has a bad performance report - what are we going to do with those folks?”

Mr. Graham also took the position that the attack was “certainly not about his religion, Islam. It’s not about the Army; it’s not about the war. At the end of the day, I think it’s going to be about him. And if we missed some signals, some clear signals, we’ve got to fix that. And I trust the Army to want to fix it, because it means more to them than any politician because it happened within their ranks.”

Patrick Poole, a counterterrorism consultant to law enforcement agencies and the military, said he expects more attacks like the one that occurred at Fort Hood because the Pentagon so far is unable to produce a “threat model” that correctly identifies the threat posed by both internal and external jihadism.

“The case of Maj. Hasan is Exhibit A on existing jihadist threats from inside the military,” Mr. Poole told Inside the Ring. “Had anyone dared to officially protest Hasan’s extremism, they would not only have been risking their military careers, but would have certainly faced a harassment lawsuit fully supported by [some Muslim] groups. … It’s not that warning signs were missed, but they were willfully ignored.”

Mr. Poole said Gen. Casey’s comments on diversity were shocking and indicate that “the Pentagon brass are doubling-down on the see-no-evil, speak-no-evil culture responsible for this incident. And more soldiers are going to die until that changes.”

Among the other incidents of Muslim extremism in the military, Mr. Poole noted the case of Ali Mohamed, an al Qaeda military chief who was an Army sergeant at the Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg, N.C., during the late 1980s. There he gathered intelligence before defecting to help al Qaeda with its war-fighting skills. Mohamed was allowed to continue working at Fort Bragg despite warnings from both the Army and Egypt’s military that he held jihadist beliefs, Mr. Poole said.

Mr. Poole said the military has policies designed to ferret out neo-Nazis, gang members and those with psychological problems from the ranks but is unwilling to do the same with radical Muslims. “Why these existing rules could not be applied to jihadism can only be explained by the delusion that there is no problem to solve,” he said.

“If jihadist ideology is so isolated from institutional Islam as Islamic groups claim, they should have no real fear of trying to weed out the jihadists in the military, because it has nothing to do with the thousands of Muslims who are serving honorably and courageously,” he said.

The Pentagon could not immediately be reached for comment.

Rep. Howard P. McKeon, California Republican and ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, on Tuesday called for a congressional investigation of the shooting.

Mr. McKeon said the investigation is needed to determine if “this was a terrorist incident; and whether there was sufficient actionable information available to Army and government authorities to have prevented this tragedy.”

New China fighter

A Chinese general is boasting that the People’s Liberation Army Air Force will soon fly a new advanced fighter that U.S. intelligence projections had said would not be ready for 10 years. The new fifth-generation Chinese fighter could be deployed as early as 2017 — years earlier than announced by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in explaining his cancellation of the U.S. version of the fifth-generation fighter, the F-22.

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About the Author


Bill Gertz is geopolitics editor and a national security and investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He has been with The Times since 1985.

He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.

Mr. Gertz also writes a weekly column ...

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