comments_image Comments

The Memory Scrub About Why Ft. Hood Happened Is Almost Complete ... If It Weren't for Archives

That Maj. Hasan tried to get a military discharge before the massacre is largely being erased -- we're supposed to keep focusing on the Muslim part.

What happened to all the initial reports that accused Fort Hood killer Maj. Nidal Hasan snapped because he was distraught over the Army's refusal to grant him either a discharge or an exemption from being deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, wars which the Muslim psychiatrist abhorred -- and how it was this callous Army refusal to accommodate Maj. Hasan that led to his downward spiral into despondency, rage and mass murder?

We heard quite a bit about this in the first couple of days, and then -- poof! That part of the Fort Hood story disappeared so neatly that I almost started to wonder if I'd imagined it -- such is the power of media bombardment versus a mere soap bubble like the human memory. I might have forgotten too and gone along with the reality-scrub, the way all of Official America has gone, but thanks to all the news archives, it was possible to check the record as it was first reported on November 5, and trace how a key part of the Nidal Hasan story was airbrushed away from reality.

The Army's pig-headed failure to accommodate Maj. Hasan was, for a time, the most important -- and most damaging -- detail forunderstanding his shooting rampage. Because if Maj. Hasan tried to get out of his deployment, and if he telegraphed every warning signal possible (emailing terrorists, cruising 7-11s in his Al Qaeda costume) to bolster his case to reverse his deployment orders, and all the while the Army bureaucracy ignored him despite his 20 years' service -- then that means the massacre can't be blamed just on one crazy Islamofascist's inner evil.

Instead, much of the blame for driving Maj. Hasan to crack would fall on his superiors in the Army, who held his fate in their hands. They could have shown some flexibility, but instead treated with the kind of callous bureaucratic insolence and nasty ethnic harassment you'd expect to find in a 19th century army, not 21st century America. If the Army really did fail to respond to a million-billion signals from Maj. Hasan, then it means we'd have to investigate more than just his evil little Muslim soul. We'd also have to look at the environment that changed him from a good loyal soldier into a cracked lunatic. That would mean examining just how screwed up the Army culture really is, how poorly it manages its resources and personnel, and why we went so long without knowing how bad things were…

We'd also have to examine the link between Hasan's rampage and the Army's record number of suicides this year -- which so far nearly equals the total number of US combat deaths in Iraq. A lot of this year's suicides involve Army personnel which hadn't yet shipped out to the war zones, like Maj. Hasan -- a grim statistic that belies the chickenhawks' screeching attacks denying the existence of pre-combat stress syndrome.

But the problem with investigating questions like these is that the answers could be one giant bummer -- nothing makes an American's brain switch into "hibernate" mode more quickly.

The point being that as the horror of the Fort Hood massacre started to emerge, a lot of people were interested in superimposing a more comforting, simplistic version of events over the ambiguous, demoralizing reality. According to the new version of what led to the Fort Hood Massacre, all along Maj. Hasan was a sleeper-jihadist moled up inside the Army structure, patiently waiting for his Al Qaeda handlers in AfPak to give him the Jihadi signal -- and in the meantime, the Islamofascist sleeper cell ran around Walter Reed scaring the shit out of his Army colleagues for two years straight with his frothing lectures threatening to behead Infidels and pour hot oil down their necks.

This counter-intuitive version has so far managed to stick, but only because everyone's officially forgotten how Hasan had desperately tried to convince his superiors not to deploy him. There was no way that this detail could be allowed to survive if the new official version was going to take hold; it wouldn't make sense that Hasan would simultaneously be plotting for two straight years to commit mass-murder, while at the same time trying to find a way out of deployment. A Jihadist would not try to get discharged from his terror target. Doesn't make sense. He'd keep quiet as he successfully wormed his way closer and closer to his Fort Hood target, if that's their story (why didn't he shoot up Walter Reed if he's a jihadist?), and not do anything that might alert his superiors to potential danger. So you can see why a lot of people would have liked to make disappear the part about how they ignored Hasan's repeated requests --not just the Army personnel whose asses are on the line, but the entire country which has invested so much faith and trust into the military.

As Americans lost faith in every other institution, the military stands as the last thing we believe in. According to a recent Gallup poll, the military is by far the most trusted institution -- 78 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the military, as opposed to a 20 percent favorable rating for the federal government.

See more stories tagged with: