Sen. Susan Collins on Wednesday blasted the Defense Department for classifying the Fort Hood massacre as workplace violence and suggested political correctness is being placed above the security of the nation’s Armed Forces at home.
During a joint session of the Senate and House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday, the Maine Republican referenced a letter from the Defense Department depicting the Fort Hood shootings as workplace violence. She criticized the Obama administration for failing to identify the threat as radical Islam.
April 9, 2010: FILE – This file photo provided by the Bell County Sheriff’s Department shows U.S. Major Nidal Hasan at the Bell County Jail in Belton, Texas. Hasan was charged in the Fort Hood shooting rampage.
Thirteen people were killed and dozens more wounded at Fort Hood in 2009, and the number of alleged plots targeting the military has grown significantly since then. Lawmakers said there have been 33 plots against the U.S. military since Sept. 11, 2001, and 70 percent of those threats have been since mid-2009. Major Nidal Hasan, a former Army psychiatrist, who is being held for the attacks, allegedly was inspired by radical U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in late September. The two men exchanged as many as 20 emails, according to U.S. officials, and Awlaki declared Hasan a hero.
The chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Connecticut independent Sen. Joe Lieberman, said the military has become a “direct target of violent Islamist extremism” within the United States.
“The stark reality is that the American service member is increasingly in the terrorists’ scope and not just overseas in a traditional war setting,” Lieberman told Fox News before the start of Wednesday’s hearing.
In June, two men allegedly plotted to attack a Seattle, Wash., military installation using guns and grenades. In July, Army Pvt. Naser Abdo was accused of planning a second attack on Fort Hood. And in November, New York police arrested Jose Pimentel, who alleged sought to kill service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Both Pimentel and Abdo also allegedly drew inspiration from al-Awlaki and the online jihadist magazine Inspire, which includes a spread on how to “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.”
Rep. Peter King of New York, the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said military service members are “symbols of America’s power, symbols of America’s might.”
“And if they (military personnel) can be killed, then that is a great propaganda victory for al Qaeda,” King told Fox News.
King said there is also evidence that extremists have joined the services.
“There is a serious threat within the military from people who have enlisted who are radical jihadists,” King said. “The Defense Department is very concerned about them. They feel they’re a threat to the military both for what they can do within the military itself and also because of the weapons skills they acquire while they’re in the military.”
The witnesses testifying before the joint session include Paul N. Stockton, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense; Jim Stuteville, U.S. Army senior adviser for counterintelligence operations and liaison to the FBI; Lt. Col. Reid L. Sawyer, director of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, and Darius Long, whose son, Army Pvt. William Andrew Long, was shot and killed at an Arkansas military recruitment center in 2009.
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