[News] Black Ops and Fort Hood
news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Nov 6 16:45:32 EST 2009
November 6-8, 2009
What Triggered Maj. Hasan?
Black Ops and Fort Hood
By JAYNE LYN STAHL
There are lots of places to start looking if we want clues as to what
happened yesterday at an Army base at Fort Hood, Texas. One obvious
clue is Virginia Tech. We know that Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hassan,
among the perpetrators of the largest shooting at a military base in
U.S. history, graduated from the college where another massacre took place.
There are striking similarities between the modus operandi in both
cases: 32 people were gunned down at Virginia Tech with many wounded,
both perpetrators were non-Caucasian, both appear to have had
murder/suicide as part of their game plan. While Hassan was born in
Arlington, his complaints about religious discrimination in the Army
could only have made him feel like a pariah, or outsider. Indeed,
both the Virginia Tech and now the Fort Hood shooters were outsiders
doubtless angry about being on the outside.
It is entirely possible that Hassan took his cues from the massacre
at his alma mater and there is little room for coincidence in the
similarities between the two crime sprees.
But, ultimately, what happened at Fort Hood had little to do with the
2007 debacle at Virginia Tech. To really know what happened to
Hassan, we will have to know why he was being deployed to Iraq later
this month, and whether he was to work with those suffering from Post
Traumatic Stress Syndrome, as reported, or whether he was called upon
instead to combine his considerable psychiatric expertise, eight
years at Walter Reed, with his knowledge of Arabic to serve in an
Simply stated, was Dr. Hassan, a devout Muslim, being sent to Iraq to
work with U.S. interrogators as a sort of liaision between the
American military and Iraqi detainees? We know that Hassan didn't
want to deploy, and that he felt strongly about it. What we don't
know is why. For another clue, we might want to consider a soldier
who was also a psychology major, fluent in Arabic, whose career ended
in violence, Alyssa Peterson.
Peterson, a U.S. Army Specialist, received her Arabic language
certification, and served with the 101st Airborne in Iraq. She was an
enlistee, a career intelligence officer, whose concentration was
interrogation techniques. She found herself part of black ops,
expected to participate in a clandestine operation in what we now
know to have been so-called "alternative enhanced interrogation
techniques" which she refused to do.
While the Army has denied it, sources close to Peterson say she was
so deeply despondent about what she witnessed at the detention camp
in Iraq that, on September 15, 2003, she was found with a bullet
wound to her head, a victim of what the Army euphemistically called
"non-hostile weapon discharge."
Like Hassan, Peterson was deeply religious. She was a member of the
Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day saints. Within days of taking her
life, she was placed on suicide watch after refusing to participate
in interrogation sessions at the airbase on the Syrian-Iraqi border,
interrogations which she believed involved the torture of Iraqi prisoners.
One must look to Alyssa Peterson only for clues not for answers.
Answers won't come fast, and they won't come easily, but the place to
start is what were Hassan's exact duties with the Army, why was he
being sent to Iraq, what were his duties going to be in Iraq, and did
his knowledge of Arabic, as well as his Islam faith have anything to
do with the mission the Army had in mind for him?
Though, unlike Alyssa Peterson, Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hassan was not
a trained career intelligence officer who specialized in
interrogations, could he have found himself in much the same
circumstances as a young Christian enlistee before him?
And, as one of Middle Eastern descent who strongly opposed the wars
in Iraq and Afghanistan, if called upon to participate in
interrogation sessions, using what to him might constitute dubious
interrogation techniques, what happened at Fort Hood today may well
have been a deranged response to a righteous concern.
The Iraq war may someday come to be known as the longest covert war
in history. Most wars have a secret component, but this war has been
doused with secrecy. There are contract mercenaries fighting side by
side with a volunteer civilian army, the press has been neutralized
by the Pentagon, and the broadcast media chooses to cherry pick which
videos to display that best spin their side of the story. The
decision to focus on the depraved acts of one individual, rather than
systemic failure, will someday be seen as the most deadly decision of all.
Jayne Lyn Stahl is a widely published poet, essayist, playwright, and
screenwriter, member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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