Fort Hood Shooting Suspect Faces 13 Murder Charges

Despair

“Military officials say the Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 and wounding 29 in last week's shooting rampage at his post in Texas has been charged in a military court with 13 counts of premeditated murder. The decision makes him eligible for the death penalty if convicted.” (NPR)

As more comes out about Hasan’s past, concern has seemed to center on his contact with a radical Islamist cleric. President Obama has ordered an inquiry into the fact that this intelligence was known but not shared or acted upon. I am more concerned with the evidence, as Daniel Zwerdling reported today on NPR, that there were considerable concerns about his fitness to be a psychiatrist and, indeed, about his mental stability overall, while he was in his psychiatric residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

‘”Put it this way,” says one official familiar with the conversations that took place. “Everybody felt that if you were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, you would not want Nidal Hasan in your foxhole.”‘

One source, shamefully conceding that no action had been taken on those concerns, described the decision to send Hasan to Fort Hood as being based on the sense that he could do the least harm there.

Some have characterized this as a particularly egregious example of a recent overall military pattern. If someone is unfit for a job, another job is created for him rather than drumming him out of the corps. It is not implausible to suggest that this relates to the climate of overwhelming difficulty with recruitment and retention in the Iraq- and Afghanistan-era military.