Uncategorized, November 8, 2009

Jason Leopold: News Steam On Fort Hood Shooting

Article – Jason Leopold

Update 10:44 p.m. PDT : Nader Hasan, Maj. Hasan’s first cousin, issued a statement on behalf of the family: “We are shocked and saddened by the terrible events at Fort Hood today. We send the families of the victims our most heartfelt sympathies. We, …


Shooting Suspect in Fort Hood Massacre Is Alive, Army Official Says


By Jason Leopold

For breaking updates on the Fort Hood Army base shooting follow this Twitter feed.

Update 10:44 p.m. PDT: Nader Hasan, Maj. Hasan’s first cousin, issued a statement on behalf of the family:

“We are shocked and saddened by the terrible events at Fort Hood today. We send the families of the victims our most heartfelt sympathies. We, like most of America, know very few details at this time.

“Here is what we do know about our cousin. Nidal was an American citizen. He was born in Arlington, Virginia, and raised here in America. He attended local high schools and eventually went on to attend Virginia Tech.

“We are filled with grief for the families of today’s victims. Our family loves America. We are proud of our country, and saddened by today’s tragedy. Because this situation is still unfolding, we have nothing else that we are able to share with you at this time.”

Update 10:37 p.m PDT: CNN spoke to soldiers who were under the care of by Maj. Hasan and they all praised his work.

Staff Sgt. Marc Molano, who is currently based at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and was treated for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD_ told the cable network that Hasan “provided me with nothing but the best care. He was a very well-mannered, polite psychiatrist, and it’s just a shock to know that Dr. Hasan could have done this. It’s still kind of hard to believe.”

Another unnamed solider who suffers from chronic PTSD and severe mental disorders told CNN, “Hasan hears nothing but these horror stories from soldiers who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan — just hearing it I’m pretty sure would have a profound effect.”

Update 10:27 p.m. PDT: News8Austin reports that the victims who were shot inside the Soldiers Readiness Processing Center “were waiting for dental and medical treatment.”

News8Austin added that the facility is “used to brief troops getting ready for deployment, as well as facilitate health checks to make sure they are physically and mentally equipped.”

Lt. Gen. Robert Cone said Maj. Hasan used a semi-automatic weapon and carried another handgun.

Update 10:23 p.m. PDT: The Killeen Daily Herald reported that Maj. Hasan was an “active-duty soldier in the Medical Corps at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center.”

Update 10:15 p.m. PDT: The New York Times reported that Maj. Hasan listed “no religious preference” on his personnel records and has never been deployed abroad.

Update 9:05 p.m. PDT: Mikey Weinstein, the founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, weighed in on the shooting rampage at Fort Hood.

Weinstein called upon President Obama to immediately issue a statement as Commander-in-Chief making it clear that there would be a zero tolerance policy against any member of the US military “inflicting harassments, retribution or reprisal against an Islamic member of the US military.”

Obama issued a statement earlier Thursday condeming the shootings.

Weinstein, whose civil rights organization was recently nominated for the 2010 Nobel Peace prize, said Obama must state, unequivocally, that the US does not judge the worth of a “service member based on his or her religious faith.”

Weinstein’s group has exposed the meteroric rise of fundamentalist Christianity within the US military and has called attention to the fact that military personnel have sought to cast the war in Iraq and Afghanistan as a crusade between Christianity and Islam.

Weinstein, an honor graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, former White House counsel during the Reagan adminsitration and former General Counsel to H. Ross Perot, said religious intolerance within the military is widespread and continues to get worse.

He said less than 24-hours before the shooting rampage at Fort Hood, he received a call from a cadet at the US Military Academy at West Point speaking on behalf of about 40 other cadets and staff at the Military Academy about “all but unbearable fundamentalist Christian pressure and perscution” at the school.

The West Point cadet enlisted MRFF’s assitance in trying to get the Military Academy to change the name of one of its 32 Corps of Cadets companies–Cadet Company C-1, also known as the “Crusaders.”

“MRFF demands that the US Military Academy at West Point immediately flush away the name ‘Crusaders’ and destroy and discard the stereotypical Crusader uniform,” worn by Cadet Company C-1’s mascot often on national television at major sporting events, including NCAA football. The uniform consists of the full body armor, including a shield with a cross on it, of an actual Christan crusader from the 11th century.

Weinstein noted that MRFF has about 18 active cases at Fort Hood involving soldiers who allege they have been subjected to non-stop fundamentalist Christian proselytization.

“Fort Hood is one of our worst hot spots of the nearly 1,000 US military installations scattered around the world in approximiately 132 countries,” Weinstein said. “We’ve had a particular problem with the public elementary school that’s actually situated on the installation where children of soldiers have been continuously proselytized to.”

Maj. Hasan, according to the New York Times, had allegedly been harassed by fellow soldiers because he was Muslim.

“It’s obviously too early to know what all the salient facts are,” Weinstein said. “But MRFF is the only subject matter expert on planet earth that can speak authoritatively with regard to the effects that religious persecution has on members of the US military, particularly those of minority faiths like Islam. It would absolutely strain credulity to presume that this clearly sick perpetrator’s actions had nothing at all to do with the fact that his faith may possibly have been Islamic.”

Update 7:40 p.m. PDT: Apparently, not all of the people who were shot at Fort Hood were military personnel, according to news reports. Two civilians were also injured.

Update 7:19 p.m. PDT: The New York Times profiles Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the suspect in the Fort Hood massacre. The Times reports that Maj. Hasan was “mortified” about being sent to Iraq or Afghanistan.

The Times said Maj. Hasan was born in Virginia to parents who had emigrated to the United States from a “small Palestinian town near Jerusalem.” Maj. Hasan “joined the Army right out of high school, against his parents’ wishes. The Army, in turn, put him through college and then medical school, where he trained to be a psychiatrist.”

The Times added that Maj. Hasan “started having second thoughts about his military career a few years ago after other soldiers harassed him for being a Muslim, he told relatives in Virginia.”

Maj. Hasan counseled soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder at Walter Reed Medical Center and, most recently, Fort Hood.

Update 7:13 p.m. PDT: A female military police officer who shot Maj. Hasan and was later reported to be one of the 12 killed in the massacre is also alive, said Lt. Gen. Robert Cone said.

Update 7:04 p.m. PDT: Maj. Hasan was shot four times and is at a nearby hospital where he is being guarded by military personnel.

Update 6:52 p.m. PDT: The suspect in the Fort Hood massacre, Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, is still alive and in stable condition, according to Lt. Gen. Robert Cone said during a news conference this evening.

Earlier news reports quoted Lt. Cone as saying the suspect was killed by military police and was among the 12 soldiers who were gunned down at the Army base. The official number of casualties, however, remains 12 killed, many of who were soldiers, and 31 wounded.

Update 5:42 p.m. PDT: Fort Hood is no longer under lockdown, US Army officials report.

Update 5:39 p.m. PDT: Maj. Hasan’s alleged Internet posts is said equated suicide bombers “with a soldier throwing himself on a grenade to save the lives of his comrades,” according to the AP.

Update 5:18 p.m. PDT: The AP is reporting that the that Maj. Hasan attracted the attention of auhorities six months ago for suspicious Internet posts.

Update 5:11 p.m. PDT: Officials tell The Austin American Statesman that news conference will begin at 7:15 p.m. CST in Fort Hood.

Update 5:08 p.m. PDT: A hot line has been set up for families to obtain information: (254) 288-7570 or (866) 836-2751.

Update 5:00 p.m. PDT: The two other suspects taken into custody have been released, according to the office of Congressman John Carter, (R-Round Rock), whose district includes Fort Hood.

Update 4:34 p.m. PDT: The Lede Blog posted a photo of Maj. Hasan attached to his profile at the Center for the Study tf Traumatic Stress

Update 4:20 p.m. PDT: A source told the AP that the gunman received a poor performance evaluation for his Army hospital work, KWTX TV reports.

Update: 4:16 p.m. PDT: AP reports the gunman, Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, was single and did not have any children.

Original story filed earlier today follows below.

Massacre at Fort Hood Army Base; 12 Soldiers Killed, 31 Injured

Twelve soldiers were killed and at least 31 injured in shootings at Fort Hood Army base in Central Texas Thursday afternoon.

The gunman, identified by the Associated Press as Maj. Malik Nidal Hasan, 39, an Army psychologist or psychiatrist, was among the 12 who died. He was carrying two weapons when he was shot and killed by military police. Two soldiers were also arrested as suspects in the massacre. The FBI and other law enforcment authorities are investigating.

A Pentagon source told the Marine Corps Times that Maj. Hasan “was a psychiatrist recently reassigned from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, to work with soldiers at Darnall Army Medical Center on Fort Hood.”

According to The Austin American-Statesman’s Blotter blog:

Jeff Sadosky, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, said the senator had been told that Malik Nidal Hasan, who has been identified as a the shooting suspect at Fort Hood, was upset about his upcoming deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan.

The shootings took place at about 1:30 p.m. central time at the Soldier Readiness Processing Center and Howze Theater. The soldiers who were there were preparing to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan, according to CNN.

An emergency alert posted on Fort Hood’s website said, “Effective immediately Fort Hood is closed…This is not a Drill. This is an Emergency Situation.”

CNN reported that Greg Scannep, an aide to Congressman John Carter, was on the base to attend a graduation and “saw a soldier with blood on his uniform “near the building where the service was being held.”

Schannepp added that the soldier, who ran past him, appeared to have a shoulder injury.

The Austin American Statesman reported that this is the second shootingat Fort Hood this year:

Another shooting occurred at the post Sept. 8, 2008. In that incident, Spc. Jody Michael Wirawan, 22, of Eagle River, Ala., who was scheduled to soon be discharged, fatally shot 1st Lt. Robert Bartlett Fletcher, 24, of Jensen Beach, Fla. When Killeen police arrived, they fired shots at Wirawan. He responded by shooting himself, Fort Hood officials told The Associated Press at the time.

The 209,000-acre installation has a total population of 92,533, according to the Fort Hood Fact Book. The total number of military personnel assigned is about 57,000. There are 17,900 on-post family members. About 5,600 civilians workers and about 9,500 contractors, the fact book said.

In a statement, President Obama said, “We don’t yet know all the details at this moment. We will share them as we get them. What we do know is that a number of American soldiers have been killed and even more have been wounded in a horrific outburst of violence.”

Fort Hood houses the Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program. It has been in the news over the years due to a spate of suicides and several murders. In October 2005, a Fort Hood soldier shot himself and another hung himself in separate incidents over a single weekend.

Last month, police were called to an apartment in Killeen and witnessed a Fort Hood Army specialist shoot his lieutenant. The officers then returned fire, and the specialist shot himself in the head and was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to Pentagon figures, Fort Hood has the highest suicide rate than any Army base in the country, with 75 soldiers taking their own lives since 2003.

The San Antonio News-Express reported last August that the number of suicides at Fort Hood “has been 26 per 100,000 people from 2006 to 2008, far above the civilian rate of 14.06 per 100,000.”

“The problem isn’t new, but three of the Army’s busiest posts have seen a sharp increase in suicides over the past four years. Fort Hood, Fort Campbell, Ky., and Fort Bragg, N.C., logged 125 suicides in that period, and 183 since 2003,” the newspaper reported.

An undated column written by Lt. Gen. Thomas F. Metz, III Corps, Fort Hood Commander, that was posted on the website of Suicide and Mental Health International said:

III Corps has lost another soldier: not to a car accident, not to an RPG attack in Iraq, but to suicide. Since January, nine Fort Hood soldiers have taken their own lives, and six of those since May. Everyone should pause and realize that we have lost six soldiers to suicide in a little over two months! We have lost more soldiers to suicide in the past six months than were lost all last year. I am alarmed and distraught by these soldiers’ deaths. Every soldier, every friend and every leader should realize his obligation to help end this horrible and sad trend.

Don’t discount the severity of this trend. While over 40,000 soldiers call Fort Hood home, the eight soldiers who committed suicide this year represent only a small portion of the problem. Already this year at Fort Hood, 32 other soldiers have attempted to take their lives, but thankfully they were unsuccessful, and 106 other soldiers have somehow demonstrated a desire to commit suicide. Who knows how many other soldiers or leaders within III Corps have demonstrated suicidal behavior. And would we know the warning signs

More than 40,000 soldiers are based at Fort Hood.

ENDS

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