[News] Black Ops and Fort Hood

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Nov 6 16:45:32 EST 2009


http://www.counterpunch.org/stahl11062009.html
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 
intelligence capacity.

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.




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