Propaganda is propaganda and fabrications are fabrications. The blogosphere has come alive with claims DoD and the White House labeled the Fort Hood Massacre simple workplace violence. Normally, I would be very quick to jump on this bandwagon of apparent political correctness run amok. As it turns out, however, this is a politically-motivated twisting facts to create a sound bite by the House and Senate Homeland Security Committees.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Rep. Peter King (R-NY-6) wanted so bad to have Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Security Stockton admit the biggest threat is “radical Islamist extremists”. While agreeing on the need for vigilance and increased security, Stockton said, “The threat we are discussing is serious and enduring. The Department of Defense has become their target of choice.” Consider the following exchange, which brings to mind the Inquisition, where Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA-3) practically waterboards Asst. Sec. Stockton:
REP. LUNGREN: I didn’t ask that — I did not ask that, sir. I asked whether we’re at war with violent Islamist extremism. That’s my question.
MR. STOCKTON: No, we’re at war with al-Qaida and its affiliates.
REP. LUNGREN: Well, al-Qaida — how does al-Qaida define itself? Are they dedicated to violent Islamist extremism?
MR. STOCKTON: Al-Qaida would love to convince Muslims around the world that the United States is at war with Islam.
REP. LUNGREN: I didn’t say that.
MR. STOCKTON: That’s a prime propaganda tool.
REP. LUNGREN: Sir —
MR. STOCKTON: And I’m not going to aid and abet that effort to advance their propaganda goal.
REP. LUNGREN: No, no, my question is, is there a difference between Islam and violent Islamist extremism?
MR. STOCKTON: Sir, with great respect, I don’t believe it’s helpful to frame our adversary as Islamic with any set of qualifiers that we might add, because we are not at war with Islam.
While homegrown, self-radicalized jihadists are certainly a concern, they’re not the only ones who kill servicemembers or their families. The January 2010 Department of Defense report, Protecting the Force: Lessons from Fort Hood, took a holistic approach. The report identified DoD’s need to improve its posture concerning all types of internal threats—what civilian organizations call “workplace violence”—not just al Qaeda wannabes. Defense Secretary Robert Gates directed the military to implement Fort Hood recommendations in August 2010. His memorandum referenced both workplace violence and force protection.
It is interesting to note the Pentagon’s report on the Fort Hood shootings never once mentions radical Islamists and only uses the word “terrorist” in the context of muti-agency information sharing and expanding current Army force protection training. It does refer to “workplace violence” in several recommendations, however. How is it that wasn’t a problem almost 2 years ago when the report came out but it is now? Could it be, oh, I don’t know, election season?
In their desires to politicize the Fort Hood tragedy, Collins and King miss the fact DoD has implemented 43 recommendations from the Fort Hood report, with another 15 to be implemented by March 2012. In what seems to be a rarity, we have a government agency addressing identified issues, but Congress wants to beat them down because they’re not blaming the right bogeyman. Collins, King, et al, are on a witch hunt and Stockton won’t play along. Even worse, they have no care or concern for non-Islamist threats. Ranking minority House Homeland Security Committee member Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS-2) expressed concern about the Committee’s direction.
Focusing on the followers of one religion as the only credible threat to this nation’s security is inaccurate, narrow, and blocks consideration of emerging threats.