Fort Hood Victims Suing The US Government Over Shooting Rampage

| Fri Nov. 11, 2011 5:15 PM EST

The victims and families of victims of Major Nidal Malik Hasan's shooting rampage at Fort Hood in 2009 are suing the US government for ignoring signs that Hasan was dangerous, the Associated Press reported Friday:

The government bowed to political correctness and not only ignored the threat Hasan presented but actually promoted him to the rank of major five months before the massacre, according to the administrative claims against the Defense Department, the Justice Department and the FBI. Thirteen soldiers and civilians were killed and more than two dozen soldiers and civilians were injured in the Nov. 5, 2009, shooting spree.

Fifty-four relatives of eight of the murdered soldiers have filed claims. One civilian police officer and nine of the injured soldiers have filed claims along with 19 family members of those 10.

The plaintiffs will certainly have plenty of material in the public record to make their case that the government was at fault. A report the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee released earlier this year showed that Hasan's superiors knew about his radical beliefs ("An instructor and a colleague each referred to Hasan as a "ticking time bomb.") and promoted him anyway. The investigation found that the Department of Defense "possessed compelling evidence that Hasan embraced views so extreme that it should have disciplined him or discharged him from the military, but DoD failed to take action against him."

Whether this is due to "political correctness," as the plaintiffs claim, is a different question. The FBI anti-Muslim training materials first revealed by WIRED reporter Spencer Ackerman posited that it was normal for "mainstream" Muslims to express sympathy for terrorists. Anyone getting that kind of information might be inclined to overlook, as Hasan's superiors did, outright evidence of extremism. That's why Gen. Jack Keane (Ret.) told the Senate committee in February that "If service members clearly understand the difference between their religion, and the dangerous radicalism of violent Islamist extremism....The patriotic Muslims in our armed services will be protected against unwarranted suspicion."

The Senate report's conclusion—that "political correctness" played a role in Hasan not being stopped sooner—was widely reported. Less widely acknowledged was the report's finding that "ignorance of religious practices" was also to blame. That helps explain why Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn), the chair of the committee, slammed the FBI's anti-Muslim training materials as "lies" while also going after the DoD's supposed "political correctness" with regards to Hasan. Ignorance is dangerous, but just as dangerous is ignorance masquerading as knowledge.