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Featured / November 25, 2009

hasan warholish

This story was first published on AlterNet.

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 one-man 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.

Can we survive another attack of cognitive dissonance by popping that bubble too? Now that we’ve dispatched with the embarrassing detail about how the Army failed to respond to Maj. Hasan’s pleas, honest patriots were finally freed up to tell the harsh truth: that Major Hasan actually wanted to remain in the Army and in Fort Hood, because he was a Muslim sleeper-cell terrorist on a mission to kill Americans and though the always-alert, ever-sensitive Army personnel spotted the terrorist early, they were oppressed by the terror of political-correctness, a terror which trumped Islamic terrorism. And just like that, everyone high and low echoed the new line. Whether it was John McCain saying in a speech this month, “We ought to make sure ‘political correctness’ never impedes national security.” Or way down the power-chain to bland middle-of-the-road columnists like Margaret Colson at Bloomberg: “Who’d think the U.S. Army could be seized with a sudden case of political correctness? And with regard to Muslims, no less.”

Yeah, who’d think?

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But here’s the problem: there’s far too much evidence out there in the public record that contradicts our new Army-friendly version of events, which implicates the exact opposite of political-correctness. What this evidence shows is that if the Army had treated Maj. Hasan with just a hint of political-correctness–or better yet, if they’d responded to Maj. Hasan with common sense and brains–the massacre could have been avoided, lives could have been saved, and Maj. Hasan might have been discharged to freely marry his online Burqa Queen. Instead, he faced an infuriatingly callous, unresponsive and abusive Army bureaucracy which over time drove Maj. Hasan to despair.

I’ve gone back through the record and collected the early accounts that were more sympathetic to Maj. Hasan, and the point at which those sympathetic details got scrubbed out of the narrative, allowing the rightwing’s Monty Python version to replace it. There are some other surprising details I found, details which show even more parallels to a classic going postal rampage shooting. First, here are some of the most credible early sources which prove that Maj. Hasan tried and failed to get the Army to relieve him. On November 5th, I found these statements by Texas Republican congressman Michael McCaul from a USA Today article:

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, a Republican from Austin, was briefed by military officials and said Hasan had taken some unusual classes for someone studying about mental health.

“He took a lot of extra classes in weapons training, which seems a little odd for a psychiatrist,” McCaul said.

McCaul said Hasan had received poor grades for his work at Walter Reed and was not happy about his situation in Fort Hood, where Hasan apparently felt like “he didn’t fit in.”

“He’s disgruntled because he had a poor performance evaluation, he doesn’t believe in the mission, he’s looking at getting transferred to Afghanistan or Iraq,” McCaul said. “He’s not happy about all that.”

McCaul added that officials planned to interview Hasan to try to determine for sure that he was not working with foreign agents.

Note the Republican congressman’s use of the word “disgruntled”–the adjective synonymous with “going postal” workplace shooters. Already one of the best-informed locals likens the shooting to a workplace massacre by his choice of words and phrases–”he didn’t fit in,” “he’s not happy about all that”–and makes no suggestion of terrorism. Another thing that stands out: early reports of Maj. Hasan taking several weapons training classes have also vanished from the official accounts–and I’d doubt there are too many people at Fort Hood eager to offer details about who trained him, how many classes he took, and how he behaved during training.

And then there’s Texas Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who was the most quoted and best informed of all public figures on the day of the massacre. As early reports of the shooting were making news, Sen. Hutchison repeatedly described the shooter as a disgruntled military man:

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) said Hasan – who had worked with the wounded for years at Walter Reed Army Medical Center – was angry about being sent to war and tried to get his orders changed.

Later that day, on CNN’s Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, Sen. Hutchison repeated again her description of Maj. Hasan as disgruntled, and also that according to her military sources, Hasan had tried to get out of his deployment but was rebuffed–a that is what led him to snap. Sen. Hutchinson added another key detail that again proves this was a workplace rage massacre rather than terrorism: Hasan didn’t fire at random but rather singled out his perceived tormentors, many of whom he knew. He went to the center for a reason: to avenge those he believed had destroyed his life. This again shows that Maj. Hasan’s motive wasn’t a random hatred of all Americans, but rather a going-postal attack on his tormentors, at least as far as the November 5th Sen. Hutchinson was concerned:

BLITZER: Joining us on the phone is Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, Fort Hood obviously in her state. She’s been very helpful to us in our coverage Do you have any more information about this individual and what his motive may or may not have been?

SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R), TEXAS: Well, all I can say is that I know he was scheduled to be deployed and appeared to be upset about that.

And so I think that there is a lot of investigation going on now into his background and just, you know, what he was doing that was not known before.

BLITZER: When you say he was being deployed, was he off to Iraq, to Afghanistan? Do you know?

HUTCHISON: I have heard Iraq. I was told earlier that he was scheduled to go to Iraq, as most of the people there were. It was a number of guard units that were there who were being processed to go to Iraq and possibly some to Afghanistan. It was not clear if there were some going to Afghanistan, but I think so. And it was some guard members and others who were in the processing facility. And I heard that he probably knew some of the people that he was shooting, but that’s not confirmed. [Bold by author for emphasis]

This last incredible detail, that he targeted his victims and spared others, was confirmed by a Dallas TV reporter from KXXV who was at Fort Hood:

Texas TV station KXXV reported that the gunman told a civilian as he passed that he was shooting only military men.

She said he targeted specific people as he stalked through a deployment center, two handguns blazing.

The new official line on Hasan is that he was a crazed jihadist trying to kill as many Americans as he could before dying; and yet as late as November 9, four days after the shooting, there is this account which again shows that Maj. Hasan targeted specific people whom he knew–which suggests he had specific grievances against specific people. And that complicates the Islamofascist nutcase picture: An Islamofascist terrorist by definition doesn’t selectively murder Infidels he knows while sparing others in his gun’s sights. An Islamofascist wants all Judeo-Christian infidels dead, period. But here is how the shooting was described by Texas Republican Congressman Michael Conaway and investigators at Fort Hood, according to the New York Times:

Mr. Hasan began shooting around 1:20 p.m., investigators say.

As he methodically moved around the room, he spared some people while firing on others several times. He seemed to discriminate among his targets, though it is unclear why. All but one of the dead were soldiers.

“Our witnesses said he made eye contact with a guy and then moved to somebody in uniform,” said Representative K. Michael Conaway, Republican of Texas.

So in the early days, before the PR people got control of the story, we were given a totally contradictory version of events which would raise a lot of disturbing questions. In the first few days, not only did politicians on both sides of the aisle, along with reporters and investigators, say that Hasan desperately tried to convince his superiors not to deploy him into combat against fellow Muslims, but even officers and soldiers who knew Hasan agreed with this version.

Here is how Fox News, oddly enough, reported Maj. Hasan’s motives and behavior in the early days after the shooting:

Retired Army Col. Terry Lee, who said he worked with Hasan, told Fox News that Hasan had hoped President Barack Obama would pull troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq. Hasan got into frequent arguments with others in the military who supported the wars, Lee said, and had tried hard to prevent his pending deployment.

And there were others who knew Hasan whose accounts corroborated Col. Lee’s and Sen. Hutchison’s, including one acquaintance of Maj. Hasan’s from his time in Fort Hood, as reported in the NY Times:

“He was obviously upset,” said Duane Reasoner Jr., an 18-year-old who attended the mosque and ate frequently with Major Hasan at the Golden Corral restaurant. “He didn’t want to go to Afghanistan.”

On top of this were the numerous accounts by Maj. Hasan’s Arab relatives all confirming that not only was he trying to get out of being deployed this year, but that he’d been pushing for a full discharge from the Army as early as 2004, and that Maj. Hasan had even seen a lawyer and had offered to pay the Army back for the money they’d invested into his education — but he was denied then as he was denied this year, and subsequently he grew desperate, distant, and increasingly bat-shit insane as the deployment date neared.

Reading through these credible accounts now, you can see how everyone from the PR flaks in the military to the rightwing media machine would want to find a way to alter the narrative, so to speak, and distract people from revelations about the Army’s pigheaded failure to exempt or discharge Maj. Hasan. And when you start to see how this early framing of events might poke a hole in the American public’s unquestioned faith in the military’s infallibility (as happened in the 1970s, when Americans distrust in the military was as little as their distrust in the government), you can then start to imagine how a lot of editors and viewers wouldn’t put up much of a fuss as the PR machine kicked in and pushed for a narrative shift towards something more palatable to the American public, something that reaffirmed their beliefs rather than upset them. Put another way: who in the mainstream media was interested in protecting a version of events that lays blame on the military as well as on Hasan? Who would want to defend Maj. Hasan, terrorist with ties to a Yemeni cleric, murderer of fellow soldiers?

So with no one interested in protecting the initial, unvarnished accounts of what drove Maj. Hasan to murder, and everyone interested in protecting the Army’s behavior and their own patriotic asses in the face of a delayed-fuse right-wing media barrage about terrorism and political-correctness, the story gets changed. Gone is the initial “it could have been prevented if Army bureaucrats/officers weren’t such raging assholes to Maj. Hasan” evidence; in its place, thanks to a barrage of leaks from unnamed Army officials, we’re told that Maj. Hasan never said peep to any Judeo-Christian servicemen about wanting out of the military or the wars. One way they managed this tricky shift was by an old PR trick: there is no record of Maj. Hasan requesting his discharge. Technically, it may or may not be true, but unless a copy of that “record” is found, the burden now is shifted to the other side, who must somehow “prove” that Maj. Hasan wanted a discharge. It’s the US Army’s Judeo-Christian word against Major Hasan’s Muslim-terrorist relatives’ “word.”

And who best to print a made-to-order reality-scrub than the corrupt neocons running the Washington Post:

Hasan Did Not Formally Seek To Leave Military, Army Official Says

WASHINGTON — The Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people last week at Fort Hood, Texas, did not formally seek to leave the military as a conscientious objector or for any other reason, an Army official said, despite claims by one of his relatives that he had done so.

…But any formal request by Hasan to separate early would have been submitted to theDepartment of the Army, according to the official, who saw Hasan’s file before it wasrecently sealed by Army investigators. The official spoke on condition of anonymitybecause he was not authorized to discuss the case publicly.

In a further indication Hasan was not actively seeking formal discharge, he underwent anArmy promotion board in the spring of 2008 that called his performance as an officer aspatriotic and elevated him from the rank of captain to major, a promotion that took placein May 2009, according to the official.

Note the sly re-framing of this story: initially, people familiar with the story argued Hasan beseeched his Army superiors from initial accounts that Hasan did everything he could “not to be deployed” to the war zones; now the issue is framed differently: Hasan never “actively sought formal discharge,” which would be a bureaucratic technicality except that this became the new way to frame the story. Suddenly, there was no more talk from the same credible Judeo-Christian Americans–military people and Texas Republicans–who’d first reported Hasan’s frustrated attempts to get out of the war…because after all, there’s no official record of Hasan’s request for a discharge. That left only Maj. Hasan’s family–Muslim Palestinians–making this claim, according to the new manufactured version, as reported in the WaPo article.

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Oddly enough, the original version of this Washington Post story I’m quoting from above, posted November 11, 2009, was subsequently scrubbed from the Post’s site. Even the cached version is gone from Google and Bing; type in the headline or even the original url address, and it redirects you to a new address of a totally modified version of this article, complete with a new headline, new angle and new lead paragraphs. The lead paragraphs I quoted above have since been pushed lower down in the story, given less emphasis. But by the time the article was altered, the PR damage was done: this original Post version was widely distributed all over the internet when the article was first released and reprinted in newspapers all across America–it was the Big Scoop on that day, on the Biggest Story in America. Until I saw this happen, I didn’t even know that news organizations could scrub their articles–and scrub even the historical record of their existence–from google cache. My colleague, journalist Yasha Levine, searched through different search engines and tracked down a yahoo cached version of the original WaPo article, which he quickly saved as a screenshot for evidence (poor lowly Yahoo, the Post‘s scrubbers didn’t even bother tampering with it they were so dismissive). In case this too gets scrubbed by the Post, here is a .pdf file of the original article.

Even though the Nov. 11 web address exists, it automatically redirects to the newer modified version of this article, which changes the headline from “Hasan Did Not Formally Seek To Leave Military, Army Official Says” to a completely different headline–“Army sought ways to channel Hasan’s absorption with Islam”–which is of course a complete reversal of the initial version revealing the Army bureaucracy as mean, dumb, and inflexible as the average DMV clerk, only with deadly consequences. Again, you could see how a PR flak would want to change that perception, and what better way to change it than to change it–hey look, actually the Army was too good to Hasan, the Islamo-ingrate!

So to recap: just a day after the Post disseminated an unsourced story arguing that Maj. Hasan never tried to get out of his deployment (which put an end to uneasy questions like “Why didn’t the Army listen to Hasan and deploy him somewhere else besides a Muslim war zone?” ), the new rewritten Nov. 12 version of the same article takes the PR whitewash to an even more ludicrous level: now we’re told that rather than stupidly ignoring Maj. Hasan’s pleas, the Army was multiculturally-sensitive to a fault, Maj. Hasan’s bestest buddy and life coach, bending over backwards to accommodate Hasan’s Islamic alienation by enrolling him in Islamic sensitivity classes. It fits neatly into an old longstanding grievance you hear from Americans: the ungrateful savage taking advantage of our innocent good intentions. Every time we fuck up a military adventure, it’s always because the other guy was an ingrate unwilling to play the part we’d scripted for them; the Vietnamese resisted our helping hand out of ingratitude; Iraqis were ungrateful for all we’d done for them; and now it turns out that the reason why Maj. Hasan went berserk is because he too is ungrateful. And since the 70s, we have an answer for why all these people are so ungrateful: because we’re just too damn nice to them. We’re too soft and liberal. If only the Army was harder on Maj. Hasan (or Vietnam or Iraq), things would have turned out differently.

Now the question is this: Why did the Post furtively rewrite the original own story and scrub all the cached versions? Why wasn’t there a note at the bottom of the story acknowledging the modification, as is standard journalism practice? The way it was rewritten suggests that someone in the Post attended journalism school and didn’t like having a big influential “scoop” like that–all based on one unnamed Army source–on the permanent record. It’s journalism malpractice at its worst. And the way it was quickly rewritten according to typical PR crisis-management strategies– reversing and confusing the bad publicity by flooding the public with a version of events directly counter to the bad image (a story about Army insensitivity becomes a story about Army hyper-sensitivity)–combined with revelations about how the Washington Post’s publisher was selling access to the newspaper’s editorial staff to wealthy lobbyists and PR flaks–suggests that perhaps it wasn’t a reporter or editor who decided how these stories were written, and how one version vanished and transformed into another article.

Perhaps it was just a sleazy business transaction, or someone leaned hard or people called in favors. It’s been done before. Hell, the Washington Post has even scrubbed a guest editorial written by the ex-President of the United States, Harry Truman, after Kennedy’s assassination–Truman’s editorial alluded to dark forces in the CIA, which someone read and didn’t like. Truman’s guest editorial went out in the morning edition exactly one month after JFK’s assassination; by the afternoon edition, it had vanished without a trace. (If you go to the CIA’s website, you can read their own declassified CIA document explaining why they objected to Truman’s article–among other things, when it finally resurfaced in 1975, the article “provoked unprecedented criticism and examination of much Agency activity”). Bad publicity leads to unprecedented criticism and scrutiny; and that leads to things like budget cuts, shake-ups, restrictive oversight, and all the things that a corrupt bureaucracy with a budget approaching $1 trillion would logically fight with all the PR muscle it could pay for.

Getting back to the Hasan scrubbing: The Post not only changed the story to say that Hasan never tried to get out of the military, but they also falsely asserted that only one person in the whole world–”one of his relatives,” Maj. Hasan’s aunt–was the one who hoodwinked American reporters into believing it. How could it be possible that one Palestinian woman could snow over the entire media with tales about Hasan’s alleged disgruntlement and alleged attempts to get out of deployment? Because the media is controlled by political-correctness, and political-correctness is playing into the Islamofascists’ hands. Of course, there is the whole matter of Sen. Hutchinson, Rep. McCaul, Col. Lee and others corroborating Hasan’s aunt’s claims, so the Post simply omits them. And there’s another falsehood in the lead paragraph: plenty more than just “one of his relatives”  made the claim that Maj. Hasan tried to get out of deployment. At least one more said he even tried to get a discharge.

For example, there’s a cousin, Nadar Hasan, telling the New York Times on November 8:

Around 2004, Major Hasan started feeling disgruntled about the Army, relatives said. He described anti-Muslim harassment and sought legal advice, possibly from an Army lawyer, about getting a discharge. [Bold mine-author]

“They told him that he would be allowed out only if Rumsfeld himself O.K.’d it,” said a cousin, Nader Hasan, referring to Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the secretary of defense. Relatives said they were unclear whether Major Hasan sought assistance from a private lawyer; then, about two years ago, his cousin Nader Hasan said, he resigned himself to staying in the Army through the end of his commitment.

And here’s Hasan Relative No. 3, also a cousin, this one named Malik Hasan, as reported in the AP:

“He told (them) that as a Muslim committed to his prayers he was discriminated against and not treated as is fitting for an officer and American,” said Mohammed Malik Hasan, 24, a cousin, told the AP from his home on the outskirts of the Palestinian city of Ramallah. “He hired a lawyer to get him a discharge.”

Whether you choose to believe Hasan’s relatives or not is one thing. But to omit simple obvious details like this in such a huge story–especially when it’s the lead claim in the lead paragraph, and it’s this patently false–would be next to impossible. One hears of editors inserting at the last minute new leads into their reporters’ articles just before sending it off to the printing press–and one hopes that explains how the Post published these errors as facts, because if more than one staffer was involved…nope, don’t want to even contemplate that one just yet.

Again, the fact that they wiped the original version off the net may suggest that the Post realized that the original version was so problematic and so easy to debunk that they had to scrub it clean and redo it as a different article. That, or apologizing to readers and redoing the article using facts instead of omissions. But that would look bad, very bad. To see just how bad it would make teh WaPo and the Army look, imagine if that same lead paragraph to the scrubbed article, reprinted and quoted all over the country on November 11, was corrected and reposted so that it now included factual information, and not PR-manufactured falsehoods:

The Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people last week at Fort Hood, Texas, did not formally seek to leave the military as a conscientious objector or for any other reason, an unnamed Army official said, despite claims by at least three relatives that he had sought a discharge, as well as public assertions by three Texas Republican congressmen, military officers familiar with the case, and others who knew Maj. Hasan. The unnamed Army source backed up his claim with a claim that he saw Maj. Hasan’s records, which the Post could not corroborate since the records have already been sealed.

Put this way — factually– the Army comes off as not only liars, but incompetent, half-baked liars. As if they’re hiding something. Not that it takes a rocket scientist to figure this out: the unnamed Army official has a reason to want to lie to us (which is why he wants to remain “unnamed” otherwise someone outside of the Post might be able to double-check his story): to divert attention away from the Army’s inexcusable failure to accommodate  Maj. Hasan’s real and desperate pleas to be discharged or deployed elsewhere. Because inevitably the investigation would lead to exploring the Army’s bureaucratic pig-headed indifference and the ethnic bullying and discrimination that Maj. Hasan faced in the Army.

It wasn’t just his superiors; even young grunts were having a laugh at this ranking senior office, because to a lot of them, inevitably Maj. Hasan was just another camel jockey. Two decades of that helped transform Maj. Hasan from a patriot who eagerly joined the Army as a teenager, so eager to Americanize himself apart from his Jordan-born parents that he enlisted over their objections. Hasan then traveled down a 20-year transformation from wide-eyed Arab-American patriot to the increasingly angry, alienated, and finally murderously insane Maj. Hasan.

That’s the Hasan we know, the one who unleashed a bloodbath on military personnel, whom he targeted specifically like so many rage murderers do, perhaps even targeting people he knew whom he believed had destroyed him, as Sen. Hutchison suggested. That’s the version that could cause a lot of problems and a lot of cognitive dissonance here, so it had to be scrubbed out with a new unsourced and slyly-crafted lie claiming what everyone hoped to hear: that Maj. Hassan never tried to get discharged, and the poor military and intel people were helpless to stop the crazed terrorist in their midst.

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The Washington Post, as we saw, subsequently altered this article the next day, after it had already managed to completely alter the way the rest of the media talked about Fort Hood, and set the stage for reclassifying the massacre as “terrorism.” Now that it was established that Maj. Hasan had never tried to get discharged or deployed elsewhere, that meant Hasan must have wanted to stay in the services right up until deployment day. And that could only mean one thing: Maj. Hasan was evil. A sleeper-jihadist on a mission to murder. No one coulda done a thing no matter how hard they tried to reason with the monster. And reason they tried, according to the even weirder story about Army liberals and their Islam sensitivity training classes that they gently prodded Maj. Hasan into attending.

Note how, like the first version, there’s not a single named source to corroborate the new version, now headlined “Army sought ways to channel Hasan’s absorption with Islam”:

Army psychiatrists at Walter Reed Army Medical Center who supervised Maj. Nidal M. Hasan’s work as a psychiatric fellow tried to turn his growing preoccupation with religion and war into something productive by ordering him to attend a university lecture series on Islam, the Middle East and terrorism, according to a Walter Reed staff member familiar with Hasan’s medical training. The psychiatric staff at Walter Reed did not discuss kicking him out of the service, according to the staff member. In fact, Hasan was initially considered a good medical school candidate because he had spent time as an enlisted soldier and had cared for his siblings after his parents died, both attributes that supervisors believed indicated he had a healthy work ethic. …

The idea that Hasan attend the lectures, which he did late last year or early this year, came up during discussions among the psychiatric staffs of the hospital and the Army’s medical university about what was perceived as Hasan’s lack of productivity and his constant interest in Muslims whose religious beliefs conflicted with their military duties.

“You’re at an institution of higher learning. He seems to want to do work in an area no one knows anything about,” the staff member, who also requested anonymity because he had not been authorized to speak publicly, said of the order. “You don’t want to close him down just because it’s different.”

Indeed.

Meanwhile, the Hasan-Never-Told-Us-He-Was-Unhappy falsehood ran again under a different outlet, the AP. And just as with the Post, the AP decided that it too found these “unnamed” military sources more credible than named military sources, Congressmen, acquaintances and relatives who knew Maj. Hasan:

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has found no evidence that Hasan formally sought release from the Army as a conscientious objector or for any other reason, two senior military officials told The Associated Press. Family members have said he wanted to get out of the Army and had sought legal advice, suggesting that Hasan’s anxiety as a Muslim over his pending deployment overseas might have been a factor in the deadly rampage.

Hasan had complained privately to colleagues that he was harassed for his religion and that he wanted to get out of the Army. But there is no record of Hasan filing a complaint with his chain of command regarding any harassment he may have suffered for being Muslim or any record of him formally seeking release from the military, the officials told the AP.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is under investigation.

With the AP and Washington Post both releasing similar versions of this new version of events within a day of each other, every paper and media outlet in America would pick it up. And they did.

Of course, none of this crude fact-scrubbing would have been possible if not for the willing collaboration of the audience. Americans didn’t really want to hear the depressing truth of what this bastard Maj. Hasan endured before he finally cracked and went postal. That’s messy stuff, with no chance of a happy ending. Terrorism, on the other hand, answers everything without further explanation. He’s a bad guy, and bad guys do bad things. It’s easier to make him out to be “evil” and a “terrorist” from an entirely alien, bloodthirsty religion which bears no relation to our civilized, peace-loving Judeo-Christianity.

It was frankly stunning how quickly everyone rallied around the facile “terrorist” explanation, as if by osmosis. One hack who was instrumental in pushing this new, pat “terrorist” explanation was Time magazine’s Nancy Gibbs, who wrote the cover story, featuring a giant close-up photo of Hasan’s face and a black bar with the words “TERRORIST” postered across his eyes. Gibbs dismissed the idea that the Army culture had anything to do with driving Hasan over the edge; instead, she argued that evil and Islam  were the cause of the massacre.

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This isn’t the first time Nancy Gibbs has whitewashed a massacre to make it fit a facile, comforting and entirely useless narrative. A few months after the Columbine massacre in 1999, as Americans started to openly discuss whether bullying in schools is actually far more lethal and damaging than previously recognized and how it contributed to Columbine and other school shootings, Gibbs jumped in with a snide rebuttal defending bullying as a character-building ritual, a vital element to a healthy upbringing. The way Gibbs saw it, bullying–and the great American figures whose characters have been molded by bullies–was under attack and needed to be defended to keep America great, as argued in her article “A Week In The Life Of A High School”:

So if you aren’t allowed to wear a hat, toot your horn, form a clique or pick on a freshman, all because everyone is worried that someone might snap, it’s fair to ask: Are high schools preparing kids for the big ugly world outside those doors — or handicapping them once they get there? High school was once useful as a controlled environment, where it was safe to learn to handle rejection, competition, cruelty, charisma. Now that we’ve discovered how unsafe a school can be, it may have become so controlled that some lessons will just have to be learned elsewhere.

Gibbs was telling her readers that bullying makes a man a man, and anyone who suggests bullying might contribute to school shootings was nothing but a touchy-feely politically-correct waif with no idea about how the real world works. But Gibbs merely retreated from analysis into ignorance and shallowness, a middlebrow’s idea of maverick, substituting curiosity and exploration with grizzled platitudes–she thought she was Hobbesian when she was merely doing the Grumpy Old Man act, only without the laughs. Idiots like her used to contemptuously dismiss the existence of “sexual harassment” telling women to deal with it like everyone else, bemoaning “sexual harassment” as some kind of sign that America was in decline. In the months and years since Gibbs defended bullying as something that builds character, several states and local school districts have enacted laws and rules outlawing bullying. Numerous studies show that bullied kids tend to suffer serious psychological and cognitive damage throughout their lives–they have a much greater chance of suffering from depression, and have difficulties making friends, socializing, and succeeding as compared to other children.

Researchers who studied the Columbine massacre subsequently detailed just how savagely the Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had been bullied, and how the school administration both tolerated and nurtured the bullies while dismissing, Nancy-Gibbs-like, all the complaints of bullied kids and their parents, treating them like nothing but a bunch of whiners and losers. Before their massacre, Klebold and Harris left behind diaries explaining their goals and their plans. Unlike people searching for meaning in Maj. Hasan’s “Allahu Akhbar” Klebold and Harris left no doubt at all that their goal was to commit terrorism: “we will hijack a hell of a lot of bombs and crash a plane into NYC with us inside firing away as we go down.”

That wasn’t Hasan or any other Muslim: that was the white Christian American Eric Harris, and his half-Jewish co-murderer, Dylan Klebold. They planned to hijack a plane and crash it into NYC if they had the chance.

But again, just as with the Maj. Hasan rampage, it’s too disturbing for too many Americans–so bullying has nothing to do with the Columbine massacre. And nothing any American did had anything to do with the Fort Hood massacre–quite the opposite, the Fort Hood shooting offered up another excuse to celebrate ourselves, at how much better we are than Muslims, for reasons that are self-evident.

Already most if not all of the morally-confusing details have been abandoned or vanished, forgotten. Now it all makes sense. It’s all clear as crystal. Thanks to the nicely-scrubbed Soviet version, here’s what we now believe happened: Maj. Hasan never told anyone that he wanted a discharge from the army, and he never sought to get out of deployment to the war zones due to his discomfort as a Muslim. Army officials knew all along that they had a crazy, dangerous Muslim on their hands, they’re always on top of everything just like in the movies–because that $700 billion we pour into our military every year isn’t wasted! The Army wasn’t callous and cruel, there was no harassment; quite the contrary, the Army tried to help enroll Hasan in Islamic sensitivity training classes. Which is part of the reason why Hasan thought he could shoot up Fort Hood–if we were tough on him, if we would untie the Army’s hands from the chains of political-correctness, they would have certainly weeded him out as a terrorist. But our 2 million man military was paralyzed from the tyranny of political-correctness–who knew what sort of wrathful hippie or hairy-legged feminist they might unleash if they dared say anything ill of Maj. Hasan? Why, they might get hectored! War is one thing, but who could possibly survive a hippie hectoring? Our nation’s finest knew that Hasan was a danger all along to themselves and to America, but they didn’t know who they could tell, whom they could trust. So the Army official kept mum about Hasan’s jihadi intentions, and just hoped for the best.

That’s it. That’s the story. Sure, it’s fucking ridiculous. But it’s what the country now all agrees happened.

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Here, for example, is Rush Limbaugh:

“I tell you something, folks, political correctness and a lot of other things are gonna lead to our downfall.”

And then here is Newt Gingrich on Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren Show:

I think the American people and the Congress should look at the kind of political correct indoctrination now under way at the FBI and elsewhere, designed to make sure that they’re not insensitive.

And finally, going back to the Washington Post again, here is their star pundit, the man who fucked up and called wrong every important event of the last decade-plus: Charles Krauthammer:

Was anything done about this potential danger? Of course not. Who wants to be accused of Islamophobia and prejudice against a colleague’s religion?

We know that the FBI and the Army knew how dangerous Hasan was. Those soldiers were scared for their lives and tried to do something. This is what happens to everyone who speaks out about jihad in the private sector, in academia, in the media, etc., but for the FBI and the Army to be more concerned with the feelings of terrorists and pedophiles than with the lives of our soldiers, first responders, and civilians is unconscionable. It appears that the CIA, the NSA, and the DNI have the same priorities.

Despicable.

I could never have imagined the pervasiveness of out-and-out treason in our government and our military.

Yowza, he’s on fire! Okay but seriously, what can you expect from an imbecile like Krauthammer, who is so used to lying that he’s grown careless and lazy about it, out of sheer contempt for his even lazier audience, who won’t abandon him despite Krauthammer’s unusual talent for predicting everything perfectly wrong, time and again, with disastrous results every time.

To see just how totally unreliable Krauthammer’s mind is, I offer his “analysis” of the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, when Korean-American student Seun-Hui Cho killed 33 people. Krauthammer’s answer couldn’t have been more bizarre if a bot fly larvae had been feeding on his brains for the past two years. Here he is talking with Brit Hume on Fox:

KRAUTHAMMER: What you can say, just — not as a psychiatrist, but as somebody who’s lived through the a past seven or eight years, is that if you look at that picture [of the Virigina Tech shooting], it draws its inspiration from the manifestos, the iconic photographs of the Islamic suicide bombers over the last half decade in Palestine, in Iraq and elsewhere. That’s what they end up leaving behind, either on al Jazeera or Palestinian TV. And he, it seems, as if his inspiration for leaving the message behind in that way, might have been this kind of suicide attack, which, of course, his was. And he did leave the return address return “Ismail Ax.” “Ismail Ax.” I suspect it has some more to do with Islamic terror and the inspiration than it does with the opening line of Moby Dick.

BRIT HUME: Which was, “My name is Ishmael.”

Yes, he really did say that: “My name is Ishmael” It seems Fox is preparing to improve the classics. The possibilities are endless:

Brit Hume recites Lolita: “La-dee-da. Or is it– wait, that’s the Woody Allen thing with that actress who doesn’t wear a bra, the one who went feminist, like they all do when they can’t, you know. Okay, so this one, I remember now–it goes, ‘Lolita. You oughta be in films with a name like that. Porn films. You could wear a tight t-shirt and wash someone’s Camaro with a big wet sponge. Yeah, I’d like that. Do you like that? La-dee-da, baby.’”

Brit Hume recites Great Gatsby: “When I was still a kid, my father said to me, ‘If you want to be Great then all it takes is a bit of elbow grease and and a positive attitude.’ His words were haunting my house, because my dad was dead, floating over my bed like one of those white things from that movie with the girl and that midget thing who says, ‘This house needs Mr. Clean’–you know what I’m talking about, right? It’s got Craig T. Murray, the guy from Coach. Great guy by the way.”

Seriously, that Hume-Krauthammer repartee reads like the transcript of a couple of washed-up valium junkies hosting a YouTube show. In a meritocracy, Brit Hume would be fired and driven into exile for failing to remember three simple words in the most famous sentence in American literature. But if the point is to be wrong, and to rub it in, then it makes sense — because that’s exactly what Krauthammer does. He’s even lazier, in his own way: Brit vacuously reads the big news item of the day; and Krauthammer blames the same ol’ reliable villains: Islamofascist terrorists abroad, and the liberal fifth column here at home. There’s not even a fake attempt at linking the two, not even a conjoining clause. It’s as though he just sheds his hatreds unconsciously, like flakes of dead skin.

But Krauthammer’s account of the Fort Hood massacre is intended to be anything but funny. He’s out for blood, in a bored, half-detached way, and whose blood is easier to spill than that ol’ buggaboo, the American liberal. Krauthammer isn’t satisfied with accusing liberals of being unwitting accomplices to Islamic terrorism. whose naively good intentions have led to dead Americans. That smear was good enough for Cold War nutjobs, but not for Krauthammer. He goes further and argues that America’s liberals are actually terrorists themselves. Liberals are actively sabotaging the military and intelligence agencies as part of some kind of dark hidden plot to realize their dream of destroying America, paving the way for an Islamic-socialist occupation. So that means that Krauthammer is accusing liberals of treason. Treason is a capital offense. So a Canadian is going to decide who’s a traitor in my country, and who should be put to death. That’s a lot of work–no time now to remember what just happened in front of our eyes, how it was that Maj. Nidal Hasan became a disgruntled serviceman, or a raging Islamofascist, or whatever it is he became. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is protecting America from liberal saboteurs and double-agents. They pretend they love America, but in reality, they’re out to destroy us all.

View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/143964/

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 eithera 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.

Can we survive another attack of cognitive dissonance by popping that bubble too? Now that we’ve dispatched with the embarrassing detail about how the Army failed to respond to Maj. Hasan’s pleas, honest patriots were finally freed up to tell the harsh truth: that Major Hasan actually wanted to remain in the Army and in Fort Hood, because he was a Muslim sleeper-cell terrorist on a mission to kill Americans and though the always-alert, ever-sensitive Army personnel spotted the terrorist early, they were oppressed by the terror of political-correctness, a terror which trumped Islamic terrorism. And just like that, everyone high and low echoed the new line. Whether it was John McCain saying in a speech this month, “We ought to make sure ‘political correctness’ never impedes national security.” Or way down the power-chain to bland middle-of-the-road columnists like Margaret Colson at Bloomberg: “Who’d think the U.S. Army could be seized with a sudden case of political correctness? And with regard to Muslims, no less.”

Yeah, who’d think?

But here’s the problem: there’s far too much evidence out there in the public record that contradicts our new Army-friendly version of events, which implicates the exact opposite of political-correctness. What this evidence shows is that if the Army been even marginally politically-correct, or at the very least, intelligent and reasonable, the massacre could have been avoided, lives saved, and Maj. Hasan might have been discharged to freely marry his online Burqa Queen. Instead, he faced a cold, unresponsive and abusive Army bureaucracy which over time drove Maj. Hasan to despair.

I’ve gone back through the record and collected the early accounts that were more sympathetic to Maj. Hasan, and the point at which those sympathetic details got scrubbed out of the narrative, allowing the rightwing’s Monty Python version to replace it. There are some other surprising details I found, details which show even more parallels to a classic going postal rampage shooting. First, here are some of the most credible early sources which prove that Maj. Hasan tried and failed to get the Army to relieve him. On November 5th, I found these statements by Texas Republican congressman Michael McCaul:

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, a Republican from Austin, was briefed by military officials and said Hasan had taken some unusual classes for someone studying about mental health.

“He took a lot of extra classes in weapons training, which seems a little odd for a psychiatrist,” McCaul said.

McCaul said Hasan had received poor grades for his work at Walter Reed and was not happy about his situation in Fort Hood, where Hasan apparently felt like “he didn’t fit in.”

“He’s disgruntled because he had a poor performance evaluation, he doesn’t believe in the mission, he’s looking at getting transferred to Afghanistan or Iraq,” McCaul said. “He’s not happy about all that.”

McCaul added that officials planned to interview Hasan to try to determine for sure that he was not working with foreign agents.

Note the Republican congressman’s use of the word “disgruntled”–the adjective synonymous with “going postal” workplace shooters. Already one of the best-informed locals likens the shooting to a workplace massacre–”he didn’t fit in,” “he’s not happy about all that”–and makes no suggestion of terrorism. Another thing that stands out: early reports of Maj. Hasan taking several weapons training classes have also vanished–and I’d doubt there are too many people at Fort Hood eager to offer details about who trained him, how many classes he took, and how he behaved during training. And then there’s Texas Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who was the most quoted and best informed of all public figures on the day of the massacre. As early reports of the shooting were making news, Sen. Hutchison repeatedly said the shooter was a disgruntled military man:

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) said Hasan – who had worked with the wounded for years at Walter Reed Army Medical Center – was angry about being sent to war and tried to get his orders changed.

Later that day, on CNN’s Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, Sen. Hutchison repeated again that he was disgruntled, and that he’d tried to get out of his deployment but was rebuffed. She added another key detail that again proves this was a workplace rage massacre rather than terrorism: Hasan didn’t fire at random but rather singled out his perceived tormentors, many of whom he knew. He went to the center for a reason: to avenge those he believed had destroyed his life. This again shows that Maj. Hasan’s motive wasn’t a random hatred of all Americans, but rather a going-postal attack on his tormentors:

BLITZER: Joining us on the phone is Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, Fort Hood obviously in her state. She’s been very helpful to us in our coverage Do you have any more information about this individual and what his motive may or may not have been?

SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R), TEXAS: Well, all I can say is that I know he was scheduled to be deployed and appeared to be upset about that.

And so I think that there is a lot of investigation going on now into his background and just, you know, what he was doing that was not known before.

BLITZER: When you say he was being deployed, was he off to Iraq, to Afghanistan? Do you know?

HUTCHISON: I have heard Iraq. I was told earlier that he was scheduled to go to Iraq, as most of the people there were. It was a number of guard units that were there who were being processed to go to Iraq and possibly some to Afghanistan. It was not clear if there were some going to Afghanistan, but I think so. And it was some guard members and others who were in the processing facility.
And I heard that he probably knew some of the people that he was shooting, but that’s not confirmed.[Bold by author for emphasis]

This incredible detail, that he targeted his victims and spared others, was confirmed by a Dallas TV reporter from KXXV who was at Fort Hood:

Texas TV station KXXV reported that the gunman told a civilian as he passed that he was shooting only military men.

She said he targeted specific people as he stalked through a deployment center, two handguns blazing.

As late as November 9, four days after the shooting, there is this account which again shows that Maj. Hasan targeted specific people whom he knew. An Islamofascist terrorist by definition doesn’t selectively murder Infidels he knows while sparing others in his gun’s sights. But this is how the shooting was described by Texas Republican Congressman Michael Conaway and investigators at Fort Hood,according to the New York Times:

Mr. Hasan began shooting around 1:20 p.m., investigators say.

As he methodically moved around the room, he spared some people while firing on others several times. He seemed to discriminate among his targets, though it is unclear why. All but one of the dead were soldiers.

“Our witnesses said he made eye contact with a guy and then moved to somebody in uniform,” said Representative K. Michael Conaway, Republican of Texas.

Not only did politicians, reporters and investigators say that Hasan did everything he could to convince his superiors not to deploy him into combat against fellow Muslims, but so did officers and soldiers familiar with the gunman.

Fox News, oddly enough, reported in an early account:

Retired Army Col. Terry Lee, who said he worked with Hasan, told Fox News that Hasan had hoped President Barack Obama would pull troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq. Hasan got into frequent arguments with others in the military who supported the wars, Lee said, and had tried hard to prevent his pending deployment.

And again, there were others who knew Hasan whose accounts mirror Col. Lee’s and Sen. Hutchison’s, including one acquaintance of Maj. Hasan’s from his time in Fort Hood as the NYT reported:

He was obviously upset,” said Duane Reasoner Jr., an 18-year-old who attended the mosque and ate frequently with Major Hasan at the Golden Corral restaurant. “He didn’t want to go to Afghanistan.”

On top of this were the numerous accounts by Maj. Hasan’s Arab relatives all confirming that not only was he trying to get out of being deployed this year, but that he’d been pushing for a full discharge from the Army as early as 2004, and that Maj. Hasan had even seen a lawyer and had offered to pay the Army back for the money they’d invested into his education — but he was denied then as he was denied this year, and subsequently he grew desperate, distant, and increasingly bat-shit insane as the deployment date neared.

Reading through these credible accounts now, you can see how everyone from the PR flaks in the military to the rightwing machine would want somehow distract people from all the accounts of their pigheaded refusal to exempt or discharge Maj. Hasan, and you can then start to imagine how a lot of editors and viewers wouldn’t put up much of a fuss if the story changed to something more palatable to the American public. So with no one interested in protecting Maj. Hasan’s motives, and everyone interested in protecting the Army’s behavior, the story gets changed from one of “it could have been prevented if Army bureaucrats/officers weren’t such raging assholes to Maj. Hasan” to a barrage of leaks from unnamed Army officials, who argued that Maj. Hasan never said peep to anyone about wanting out of the service (note however the fine language–they narrowed from deployment to discharge to “record of” requesting a discharge). And that it was really the US Army’s Judeo-Christian word against Major Hasan’s Muslim-terrorist relatives’ “word.” And who best to print a made-to-order reality-scrub than the corrupt neocons running the Washington Post:

Hasan Did Not Formally Seek To Leave Military, Army Official Says

WASHINGTON — The Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people last week at Fort Hood, Texas, did not formally seek to leave the military as a conscientious objector or for any other reason, an Army official said, despite claims by one of his relatives that he had done so.

Note the sly re-framing from “not getting deployed” to “discharge,” a significant technicality; and the glaring omission here of all the other credible sources who were already on record testifying that Hasan had tried to get out of being deployed, in addition to getting a discharge. There’s no more mention of all the Christian Americans — the military sources and Republican politicians familiar with the case — who supported the family’s version. [Oddly enough, the original version of this Washington Post story, posted November 11, 2009, no longer exists on the Post's site.

Even the cached version is gone from Google and Bing; all redirect to a new address of a totally modified version of this story, with a new headline, angle and new lead paragraphs, and this lead paragraph I quote above pushed lower down in the story. This original Post version was widely distributed all over the internet and printed in newspapers all across America--it was the big scoop on that day. A friend tracked down a yahoo cached version of the original article, which is still up (poor lowly Yahoo, the Post's scrubbers didn't even bother tampering with it). In case that gets scrubbed, here is a .pdf file of the article. Even though the Nov. 11 web address exists, it automatically redirects to the newer modified version of this article, which changes the headline from "Hasan Did Not Formally Seek To Leave Military, Army Official Says" to a completely different story: "Army sought ways to channel Hasan's absorption with Islam."

So a day after the Post disseminated an unsourced story that ended talk about how the Army callously dismissed Maj. Hasan's repeated pleas, the rewritten Nov. 12 version of the same article takes the PR whitewash to an even more ludicrous level: now we're told that rather than treating Maj. Hasan poorly, the multiculturalism-friendly Army was Maj. Hasan's bestest buddy and life coach, going the extra mile to accommodate Hasan's Islamic alienation, enrolling him in Islamic sensitivity classes. So now the question is: Why did the Post furtively rewrite the original own story and scrub all the cached versions? The question has to be asked because there's no explanation of the modification, which usually appears at the end of the story. It may be nothing. But if the purpose of this rewrite-and-scrub of the original story was because some editor understood that the story was too poorly sourced to stand behind, then the Post should acknowledge the modification somewhere. Whatever the reason for that mystery, the effect was very clear: after this was published, the media stopped talking about how Maj. Hasan tried getting out of the Army, and turned instead towards making Hasan into the face of Islamofascist evil.] The Post makes yet another false assertion, that only “one of his relatives” — Maj. Hasan’s aunt — claimed Hasan had tried to get a discharge, when in fact several of Maj. Hasan’s relatives confirmed it.

For example, there’s a cousin, Nadar Hasan:

Around 2004, Major Hasan started feeling disgruntled about the Army, relatives said. He described anti-Muslim harassment and sought legal advice, possibly from an Army lawyer, about getting a discharge. [Bold mine-author]

But because the Army had paid for his education, and probably because the Army was in great need of mental health professionals and was trying to recruit Arab-Americans, he was advised that his chances of getting out were minuscule, relatives said.

“They told him that he would be allowed out only if Rumsfeld himself O.K.’d it,” said a cousin, Nader Hasan, referring to Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the secretary of defense. Relatives said they were unclear whether Major Hasan sought assistance from a private lawyer; then, about two years ago, his cousin Nader Hasan said, he resigned himself to staying in the Army through the end of his commitment.

And here’s Number 3, also a cousin, this one named Malik Hasan, as reported in the AP:

“He told (them) that as a Muslim committed to his prayers he was discriminated against and not treated as is fitting for an officer and American,” said Mohammed Malik Hasan, 24, a cousin, told the AP from his home on the outskirts of the Palestinian city of Ramallah. “He hired a lawyer to get him a discharge.”

Whether you choose to believe them or not is one matter; but it’s another matter when the Post reporters or fact-checkers, among the best-trained in the business, are suddenly struck with a case of collective laziness, and don’t bother fact-checking the most significant assertion in the article’s lead paragraph.

Again, the fact that they wiped the original version off the net may suggest that thePost realized that the original version was problematic enough to warrant a rewrite and thematic-shift. To see just how big a difference the WaPo’s article claiming that Maj. Hasan hadn’t sought a discharge makes, imagine if that same lead paragraph above, quoted all over the country on November 11, was rewritten according to the true facts:

The Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people last week at Fort Hood, Texas, did not formally seek to leave the military as a conscientious objector or for any other reason, an Army official said, despite claims by at least three relatives that he had sought a discharge, as well as public statements by three Texas Republican congressmen, officers and others who knew Maj. Hasan.

Put this way — the accurate, factual way — it makes the Army look bad. As if they’re hiding something. The Army official claim lacks credibility and looks incredibly suspicious. Because the unnamed Army official has a reason to want to lie to us (which is why he’s always “unnamed”): to divert attention away from the Army’s failure to respond in any reasonable way to Maj. Hasan’s desperate pleas to be discharged exploring that angle means exploring the toxic culture of callous bureaucratic indifference and ethnic bullying and discrimination that Maj. Hasan faced in the Army.

It wasn’t just his superiors; even young grunts were having a laugh at this ranking senior office, because to them Maj. Hasan was nothing but a camel jockey. It was this culture that transformed Maj. Hasan from a patriot who eagerly joined the Army as a teenager, so eager to Americanize himself apart from his Jordan-born parents that he enlisted over their objections. Hasan then traveled down a 20-year transformation from wide-eyed Arab-American patriot to the increasingly angry, alienated, and finally murderously insane Maj. Hasan.

That’s the Hasan one we know, the one who unleashed a bloodbath on military personnel, whom he targeted specifically like so many rage murderers do, perhaps even targeting people he knew whom he believed had destroyed him, as Sen. Hutchison suggested. That’s the version that could cause a lot of problems and a lot of cognitive dissonance here, so it had to be scrubbed out with a new unsourced and slyly-crafted lie claiming what everyone hoped to hear: that Maj. Hassan never tried to get discharged, and the poor military and intel people were helpless to stop the crazed terrorist in their midst.

The Washington Post, as we saw, subsequently altered this story the next day, once the damage was done, transforming it into an even weirder story about Army sensitivity to Maj. Hasan’s religious needs, enrolling him in a kind of Islam Sensitivity Training course. Note again how there’s not a single named source for the story, headlined “Army sought ways to channel Hasan’s absorption with Islam”:

Army psychiatrists at Walter Reed Army Medical Center who supervised Maj. Nidal M. Hasan’s work as a psychiatric fellow tried to turn his growing preoccupation with religion and war into something productive by ordering him to attend a university lecture series on Islam, the Middle East and terrorism, according to a Walter Reed staff member familiar with Hasan’s medical training. The psychiatric staff at Walter Reed did not discuss kicking him out of the service, according to the staff member. In fact, Hasan was initially considered a good medical school candidate because he had spent time as an enlisted soldier and had cared for his siblings after his parents died, both attributes that supervisors believed indicated he had a healthy work ethic. …

The idea that Hasan attend the lectures, which he did late last year or early this year, came up during discussions among the psychiatric staffs of the hospital and the Army’s medical university about what was perceived as Hasan’s lack of productivity and his constant interest in Muslims whose religious beliefs conflicted with their military duties.

“You’re at an institution of higher learning. He seems to want to do work in an area no one knows anything about,” the staff member, who also requested anonymity because he had not been authorized to speak publicly, said of the order. “You don’t want to close him down just because it’s different.”

Indeed.

Meanwhile, the Hasan-Never-Told-Us-He-Was-Unhappy story ran again under a different outlet, the AP. And just as with the Post’s account, the AP relied on the same “unnamed” sources to back it up while totally omitting all the credible sources who were already on the record contradicting these “unnamed sources”:

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has found no evidence that Hasan formally sought release from the Army as a conscientious objector or for any other reason, two senior military officials told The Associated Press. Family members have said he wanted to get out of the Army and had sought legal advice, suggesting that Hasan’s anxiety as a Muslim over his pending deployment overseas might have been a factor in the deadly rampage.

Hasan had complained privately to colleagues that he was harassed for his religion and that he wanted to get out of the Army. But there is no record of Hasan filing a complaint with his chain of command regarding any harassment he may have suffered for being Muslim or any record of him formally seeking release from the military, the officials told the AP.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is under investigation.

With the AP and Washington Post both running versions of this new line within 24 hours of each other, every paper and media outlet in America would pick it up.

The other key element in making this rather crude fact-scrubbing work is that the audience–Americans–didn’t really want to hear the depressing truth of what this bastard went through before he went postal. It’s easier to make him out to be “evil” and a “terrorist” from an entirely alien, bloodthirsty religion which bears no relation to our civilized, peace-loving Judeo-Christianity.

It was amazing how quickly everyone rallied around the facile “terrorist” explanation, as if by osmosis. One hack who was instrumental in pushing this new, pat “terrorist” explanation was Time magazine’s Nancy Gibbs, who wrote the cover story, featuring a giant close-up photo of Hasan’s face and a black bar with the words “TERRORIST” postered across his eyes. Gibbs dismisses the idea that Hasan’s environment, rather than his evil Muslim soul, drove him to massacre, despite all the evidence.

This isn’t the first time Nancy Gibbs has whitewashed a massacre to make it fit a facile, comforting narrative. A few months after the Columbine massacre in 1999, as more Americans started to question whether bullying and the schools’ toxic culture might have helped cause the shootings, Gibbs sneered at the sudden cultural change acknowledging bullying’s toxic effects on kids, and the sense that it shouldn’t be tolerated–a sensibility that Gibbs dismissed as nothing but a bunch of politically-correct namby-pambies:

So if you aren’t allowed to wear a hat, toot your horn, form a clique or pick on a freshman, all because everyone is worried that someone might snap, it’s fair to ask: Are high schools preparing kids for the big ugly world outside those doors — or handicapping them once they get there? High school was once useful as a controlled environment, where it was safe to learn to handle rejection, competition, cruelty, charisma. Now that we’ve discovered how unsafe a school can be, it may have become so controlled that some lessons will just have to be learned elsewhere.

Gibbs was telling her readers that bullying makes you a man, and anyone who says it had anything to do with causing rampage shootings was nothing but a touchy-feely politically-correct wimp. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth, and only a willfully ignorant jerk could possibly go on the record dismissing bullying. In the months and years since Gibbs defended the positive educational and character-building benefits of bullying, several states and local school districts have enacted laws and rules outlawing bullying. Numerous studies show that bullied kids tend to suffer serious psychological and cognitive damage throughout their lives–they have a much greater chance of suffering from depression, and have difficulties making friends, socializing, and succeeding as compared to other children.

Researchers have detailed just how savagely the Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were bullied, and how their school tolerated and nurtured the bullying jocks while dismissing, Gibbs-style, the whining complaints of bullied kids and their parents. Before their massacre, Klebold and Harris left behind diaries explaining their goals and their plans. Unlike people searching for meaning in Maj. Hasan’s “Allahu Akhbar” Klebold and Harris left no doubt at all that their goal was to commit terrorism: “we will hijack a hell of a lot of bombs and crash a plane into NYC with us inside firing away as we go down.”

That wasn’t Hasan or any other Muslim: that was the white Christian American Eric Harris, and his half-Jewish co-murderer, Dylan Klebold.

But again, just as with the Maj. Hasan rampage, it’s too disturbing for too many Americans–so bullying has nothing to do with it in Columbine or Walter Reed.

At last, we have the new nicely-scrubbed Soviet version of events that we’ve come to accept: No one told the Army that Maj. Hasan wanted a discharge. Army officials figured out that he was a crazy Muslim–because that $700 billion we pour into our military every year isn’t wasted!–and they even tried to enroll him into Islamic sensitivity training. But the problem is, our 2 million man military was so terrified of hippies and feminists terrorizing them with political-correctness-hectoring that our nation’s finest kept all of their fears about Hasan to themselves.

That’s it. That’s the story. Sure, it’s fucking ridiculous. But it’s what the country now all agrees happened.

Here, for example, is Rush Limbaugh:

“I tell you something, folks, political correctness and a lot of other things are gonna lead to our downfall.”

And then here is Newt Gingrich on Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren show:

I think the American people and the Congress should look at the kind of political correct indoctrination now under way at the FBI and elsewhere, designed to make sure that they’re not insensitive.

And finally, going back to the Washington Post again, here is their star pundit, the man who fucked up and called wrong every important event of the last decade-plus:Charles Krauthammer:

Was anything done about this potential danger? Of course not. Who wants to be accused of Islamophobia and prejudice against a colleague’s religion?

We know that the FBI and the Army knew how dangerous Hasan was. Those soldiers were scared for their lives and tried to do something. This is what happens to everyone who speaks out about jihad in the private sector, in academia, in the media, etc., but for the FBI and the Army to be more concerned with the feelings of terrorists and pedophiles than with the lives of our soldiers, first responders, and civilians is unconscionable. It appears that the CIA, the NSA, and the DNI have the same priorities.

Despicable.

I could never have imagined the pervasiveness of out-and-out treason in our government and our military.

Yowza, he’s on fire! Okay but seriously, what can you expect from an imbecile like Krauthammer, whose columns consist of nothing but a series of reckless lies, lazy posturing, and an unusual talent for predicting everything exactly wrong, with disastrous results every time, like some kind of fascist Mr Magoo hellbent on subjugating the planet through military force if only he can find his glasses, he’ll start subjugating … O where did he put them? …

To see just how totally unreliable Krauthammer’s fungus-infested mind is, I offer his reading into the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, when Korean-American student Seun-Hui Cho killed 33 people. Krauthammer answers it as though his brain has been sucked into a parallel universe very close to our own, and he’s responding to a question about Middle East violence:

KRAUTHAMMER: What you can say, just — not as a psychiatrist, but as somebody who’s lived through the a past seven or eight years, is that if you look at that picture [of the Virigina Tech shooting], it draws its inspiration from the manifestos, the iconic photographs of the Islamic suicide bombers over the last half decade in Palestine, in Iraq and elsewhere. That’s what they end up leaving behind, either on al Jazeera or Palestinian TV. And he, it seems, as if his inspiration for leaving the message behind in that way, might have been this kind of suicide attack, which, of course, his was. And he did leave the return address return “Ismail Ax.” “Ismail Ax.” I suspect it has some more to do with Islamic terror and the inspiration than it does with the opening line of Moby Dick.

BRIT HUME: Which was, “My name is Ishmael.”

Can we call you “Dumber” for short? Seriously, it reads like the transcript of a couple of washed-up valium junkies sitting in front of the telly. In a meritocracy, Brit Hume would be fired and driven into exile for failing to remember three simple words in the most famous sentence in American literature. But if the point is to be wrong, and to rub it in, then it makes sense — because that’s exactly what Krauthammer does. He’s even lazier, in his own way: Brit vacuously reads the big news item of the day; and Krauthammer blames the same ol’ reliable villains: Islamofascist terrorists abroad, and the liberal fifth column here at home. There’s not even a fake attempt at linking the two, not even a conjoining clause. It’s as though he just sheds his hatreds unconsciously, like flakes of dead skin.

But Krauthammer’s account of the Fort Hood massacre goes further than the usual cover-up and deflection. This time, he goes all the way, accusing America’s tolerance-mad liberals of not merely weakening the country from within out of naive good intentions, but instead he says something far more threatening. Krauthammer argues that America’s liberals are actually sabotaging the military and intelligence agencies as part of some kind of conspiracy to destroy America and pave the way for an Islamic-socialist-liberal takeover. Which makes the liberals guilty of treason. Treason is a capital offense.

Mark Ames is the author of Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine and Beyond.

This story was first published on AlterNet.

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19 Comments

Add your own

  • 1. fish  |  November 25th, 2009 at 4:27 am

    first of all, hasan could resign from army, he was not a slave there. and between resignation and killing people i suppose there is not any doubt what a normal mind would choose.

  • 2. Connors  |  November 25th, 2009 at 6:54 am

    Ames is the only guy who gives a thoughtful analysis of this situation. Compare to Hitchens, who of course blames Islam alone. As if Hasan wouldn’t have sought a different outlet to vent his rage had Islamic extremism not been in his compass. This guy, who had been American as apple pie, was obviously driven to extremes by circumstances.

  • 3. motorfirebox  |  November 25th, 2009 at 7:37 am

    so, wait, let me get this straight. expecting a man to honor the oath he’s sworn to defend his country is a “pig-headed failure”, but referring to the traditional cap and robe Hasan often wore as an “Al Qaeda uniform” is cool? there is a lot wrong with the Army and US military culture in general, but the major fault here is not the Army’s unwillingness to allow a soldier to place his religion ahead of his service, it’s the culture of form-over-function lip service to politically correctness. the military doesn’t teach or expect any actual respect for other cultures; rather, it teaches and expects adherence to regulations and percentages. realistically, if someone had really tried to report Hasan, chances are that person would have been lambasted as a racist.

  • 4. brian  |  November 25th, 2009 at 8:39 am

    Krauthammers an agent for Israel
    Totally discredied

  • 5. Tyler Bass  |  November 25th, 2009 at 11:06 am

    People obviously feel uncomfortable with many aspects of this story, and you’ve done a good job here highlighting a systematic disengagement of pressure that occurred inside of the media. When I tweeted the initial New York Times story within an hour of the event along with the hook “Killing in Killeen,” Facebook chose to censor the headline. While the headline is not explicitly nor did I intend it to be sympathetic with Hasan, the expression in the context of my own frank opposition to many U.S. entanglements in Southwest Asia probably led someone to complain. Conversely, if I see a National Guard advertisement on that network and try to close it out and label it “misleading,” another will just pop up in its place and then another and then another until one just sits there stubbornly.

    So many veterans are racked with guilt and shame that in order to keep recruitment even vaguely feasible, impressing upon the people that Hasan should be viewed as a person is not even vaguely tolerable. Surely, if I had labeled my post “Jihadi Strikes Heroes,” it would have been smooth sailing. Imagining collectives as enemies makes the serious, Hedgesesque reality of war much easier to swallow, and, most importantly, tolerate.

  • 6. Spade  |  November 25th, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    I have yet to hear a case of an U.S. Soldier running through a Iraqi or Afgani village… shouting “In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost” dealing the death card to Muslims by gun.

    Or, Ames, has the “Allah Akbar” witness statements been recanted?

  • 7. Svetlana Aliluyeva  |  November 25th, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Do the U.S. military services require active duty service obligations from its DoD med school graduates a la the obligations required of service academy graduates? Hasan rec’d his MD, residency, etc while on active duty. What did he owe contracturally (years of service)to Uncle Sugar for the training?

  • 8. Svetlana Aliluyeva  |  November 25th, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Does the military require active duty service obligations from its DoD med school graduates a la the obligations required of service academy graduates? Hasan rec’d his MD, residency, etc while on active duty. What did he owe contracturally (years of service as payback)to Uncle Sugar for the training?

  • 9. bobby jo jim  |  November 25th, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    good piece

  • 10. hosswire  |  November 26th, 2009 at 9:54 am

    With absolutely no proof at all, my personal conjecture is that Hasan went on an all-too-typical workplace shooting rampage for all the usual, frustration & rage reasons. It feels to me like he was really pissed at the Army for how it had treated him, and merely used his religion to justify it to himself after he had already decided.

    One more thing that nobody has pointed out. Not to defend Hasan, but at least he did practice some target selection. He went after soldiers, able bodied warriors who at least in theory were prepared to kill and die in their profession.

    He didn’t go to a health club and shoot at women doing aerobics. He didn’t walk into a cafeteria and shoot people eating their lunch. He didn’t go after an Amish elementary school.

    If he really had been a jihadist determined to wreak terror, there were a lot more heinous ways to go about it.

  • 11. Daar  |  November 26th, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    @6 Yeah they say HOOAH instead these days.

  • 12. lulz  |  November 26th, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    @6

    When a Sunni kills a Shia I’m sure they say it and vice versa. Its really just meaningless window dressing, and as 11 indicated, can be filled in with any number of vapid political/nationalist/religious pop-phrases.

  • 13. lone wolf  |  November 28th, 2009 at 4:52 am

    webster tarpley’s thesis on fort hood:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8mbtWvGmKg
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDFch4ok8_o

  • 14. hyssop  |  November 28th, 2009 at 9:10 am

    Show me the evidence. Convincing evidence, no more second- or third- hand “eyewitness” accounts funneled to the media by US army grunts and spokespersons, that Nidal Hasan is the author of the Ft Hood shooting.

    As remarkable as Mark Ames’ article may seem, he too has joined ranks, with hundreds of pundits, who proclaim Hasan’s guilt on the basis of what is frightfully slim evidence.

  • 15. hyssop  |  November 28th, 2009 at 9:25 am

    No one has investigated the three military personnel who were detained for questioning in the aftermath of the incident, one of whom was hauled off a nearby golf course, sirens blaring, by a horde of men in black suits, not military uniforms. Wtf.

    The military / media story is a wash, and people, Ames included, are buying into it.

  • 16. Frank McG  |  November 29th, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    I really hope, if nothing else, that the Fort Hood incident forever puts to rest the conceal & carry debate regarding shooting sprees. If an ARMY BASE is just as vulnerable as a school or office building, is letting a bunch of Travis Bickles carry around pistols in their pants going to stop shootings?

  • 17. jim  |  November 30th, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    Hey, come on now, everyone knows the US Army wouldn’t tell fibs about the circumstances surrounding a suspicious killing in the ranks – why, just ask Pat Tillman’s family!

  • 18. Jack Boot  |  December 3rd, 2009 at 10:23 am

    To be sure, Mad Man Hasan was almost certainly not an Al Qaeda operative; he took orders only from those little voices in his head.

    However,no soldier can pick and choose his deployments. If the good Major truly opposed making Allah’s sandbox safe for democracy, he could simply have folded his arms and refused to ship out. That would have meant arrest and trial, but the courtroom would have made a dandy sounding board…

    Oh, well. No doubt he hoped to die gloriously, but those four pipsqueak 9mm rounds – fired by an egg-layer! – have left him a paraplegic.

    So after he’s executed, Hasan won’t even be able to service those 72 virgins. Bummer…

  • 19. Neil Gillespie  |  December 13th, 2009 at 7:40 am

    Chicken-hawk Joe Lieberman was the point-man turning the national discussion on the shooting from deployment anxiety to terrorism.


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