- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Army has guidelines on how to deal with racist views and actions within the ranks, but none on how to deal with Islamist jihadist views, which fostered a “politically correct” reluctance to investigate the man accused in the Fort Hood shootings, a former Army vice chief of staff told Congress on Thursday.

A military pamphlet created after the 1995 racially motivated shootings at Fort Bragg is the intended guidebook on how to deal with internal extremist views and actions, but is mostly focused on racist behavior, retired Gen. John M. Keane told the first congressional oversight hearing on the Fort Hood shootings.

“Clearly we don’t have specific guidelines in dealing with Jihadist extremists,” Gen. Keane told the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

Most of the witness panel agreed with Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, when he asked whether fear of being politically incorrect may have prevented an in-depth investigation of Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is charged with murder in the rampage, which left 13 people dead and 29 others wounded.

“There is no doubt in my mind that was operating here,” Gen. Keane said.

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Frances Fragos Townsend, former assistant to President George W. Bush for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism agreed there was a reluctance to investigate Maj. Hasan because he was a senior member of the military, as well as a psychiatrist.

“We can’t allow [investigators] to be reluctant to follow the facts, just because they are afraid they will be criticized for not being politically correct,” Mrs. Townsend said.

Updating guidelines to teach the military rank and file how to identify Islamist radicals and how to report suspicious activity up the chain of command could also eliminate the fear of being labeled politically incorrect or prejudiced against Muslims, Gen. Keane and Mrs. Townsend said.

The hearing led by Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent, is the only review to move forward since President Obama asked Congress on Saturday to delay all inquiries into the Fort Hood shootings to avoid interfering with the criminal investigation.

Following the hearing, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced a more in-depth department-wide review of the shooting that will identify new policies changes and procedures.

The Pentagon’s investigation could take as long as six months, but Mr. Gates did not elaborate on whether it will further delay congressional probes, most of which are holding off at the administration’s request.

Thursday’s testimony focused on the history of homegrown terrorists, and increased attacks directed at the military.

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