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Political Correctness and Fort Hood

A briefing by Shannen Rossmiller December 15, 2009

Shannen Rossmiller is a former judge and pioneer of cyber counter-terrorism. Her work has led to the capture of several Al-Qaeda operatives. Regarded an expert on spotting the signs of Islamist radicalization, she contributed to a 2008 Pentagon study - a study which, according to her, was not only ignored due to political correctness, but could have prevented the Fort Hood massacre. On December 15, Ms. Rossmiller addressed the Middle East Forum via conference call.

Ms. Rossmiller began her talk by emphasizing the need to understand the process of radicalization in individuals such as Major Hasan, which went "unnoticed" by the Army. She asserts that the individual initially internalizes certain views on his/her own (e.g., belief in violent jihad or an apparent perception of "double standards" in Western foreign policy) and then seeks the company of like-minded people. Radicalization has been further exacerbated by jihadist websites that provide such individuals with a way forward.

According to Ms. Rossmiller, the doctrine of "political correctness" hindered the American army from taking action against Major Hasan, even though the signs of his radicalization were apparent as far back as Spring 2008, when questions were raised about Hasan's mental health. One official expressed concern that Hasan would leak information to Islamic terrorists if deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan; another feared that Hasan would kill his fellow servicemen while on duty. Even the FBI was aware of Hasan's open expression of jihadist sentiments, and many reports were compiled on his behavior. Nonetheless, his supervising officials made no attempt to launch an official inquiry out of fear that such actions would be regarded as "religious discrimination."

Ms. Rossmiller states that the attack at Fort Hood was not a random killing spree undertaken by a mentally deranged individual; rather, it was a pre-meditated attack by an Islamist that could easily have been prevented. She concluded by stating that the American public has to make a choice between political correctness and common sense.

Asked if the Obama administration was more effected by political correctness than the Bush administration, Ms. Rossmiller replied in the affirmative, adding that the primary difference is that George Bush had a clearer vision of the threat that radical Islam represented, whereas Obama is not "confronting reality."

In response to a question regarding what ordinary people can do about the problem of political correctness, Ms. Rossmiller pointed out that grassroots movements, similar to the "tea-party" movement, would probably be effective. Summary written by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi.