By Calvin Palmer
For several hours yesterday evening the U.S Army perpetrated a lie, as they led the media to believe that the gunman in the shootings at Fort Hood was killed.
Eventually, some four hours later, the Army issued a statement that 39-year-old Maj Nidal Malik Hasan, the man believed to be responsible for the deaths of 12 people and the wounding of 31 others, was alive.
Lt Gen Bob Cone at Fort Hood said the gunman had been wounded but was still alive and under military guard.
“I would say his death is not imminent,” Cone said.
Some elements among the media called the worst mass killing on a U.S military base an act of terrorism.
Would that analysis have been so quickly arrived at if the gunman had been Maj Bill Jones?
But a Muslim name, even if that of an American citizen, arouses suspicions these days.
It now appears that Hasan’s name appears on radical Internet postings. A fellow officer says Hasan fought his deployment to Iraq and argued with soldiers who supported U.S. wars.
Retired Army Col Terry Lee made these allegations in an interview with Fox News. Their veracity of allegations made to this propaganda organization is questionable to say the least and merits closer examination.
It is somewhat strange that this fellow officer did not alert his superior officers about Hasan’s behavior. If he did, records should exist. Perhaps the media should dig a little deeper on this aspect of the story.
They have already been digging deeper into Hasan’s background in an attempt to come up with some sort of motive for this horrific incident.
It emerges that while an intern at Walter Reed, Hasan had some “difficulties” that required counseling and extra supervision, said Dr Thomas Grieger, who was the training director at the time.
Grieger said privacy laws prevented him from going into details but noted that the problems had to do with Hasan’s interactions with patients.
He recalled Hasan as a “mostly very quiet” person who never spoke ill of the military or his country.
“He swore an oath of loyalty to the military,” Grieger said. “I didn’t hear anything contrary to those oaths.”
At least six months ago, Hasan came to the attention of law enforcement officials because of Internet postings about suicide bombings and other threats, including posts that equated suicide bombers to soldiers who throw themselves on a grenade to save the lives of their comrades.
They had not determined for certain whether Hasan is the author of the posting, and a formal investigation had not been opened before the shooting.
Faizul Khan, a former imam at a mosque Hasan attended in Silver Spring, Maryland, said Hasan was a lifelong Muslim.
“I got the impression that he was a committed soldier,” Khan said. He spoke often with Hasan about Hasan’s desire for a wife.
On a form filled out by those seeking spouses through a program at the mosque, Hasan listed his birthplace as Arlington, Virginia, but his nationality as Palestinian, Khan said.
“I don’t know why he listed Palestinian,” Khan said, “He was not born in Palestine.”
Nothing stood out about Hasan as radical or extremist, Khan said.
“We hardly ever got to discussing politics,” Khan said. “Mostly we were discussing religious matters, nothing too controversial, nothing like an extremist.”
Hasan was promoted to the rank of major in April 2008.He served eight years as an enlisted soldier. He also served in the ROTC as an undergraduate at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg. He received a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry there in 1997.
Hopefully, the facts behind this terrible tragedy will emerge in the coming days and serve to confirm or deny the knee-jerk reaction that some commentators have been quick to put before the American public. And, of course, certain elements take it to heart, thankful that their bigotry is reflected and amplified by the propaganda machine of the far right.
The Austin American-Statesman had to suspend its comments on this story because of repeated abuse of its commenting policy. One hardly dares to imagine the hate, vitriol and wild conjecture that was spawned by these “patriots” before the editor rightly decided to deny them a platform.
As C.P. Scott, the famous editor of The Guardian newspaper, once said: “Comment is free but facts are sacred.”
It is incumbent on the American media to unearth the facts behind this story and determine whether it was an act of terror or just a case of a soldier who cracked under stress .
[Based on a report by the Associated Press.]