Looking at the Fort Hood tragedy, I have to ask: Can it happen within law enforcement's ranks? Can one of our own lay siege to his or her fellow workers and department?
Murders of law enforcement personnel by their brethren are not without precedent. Lovers' triangles have resulted in murder-suicides; subordinates have shot superiors; ex-cops-cum-felons have killed lawmen.
Given the disparate personalities one encounters on the job, it isn't difficult to envision a large-scale assault being committed by an officer. At one time I planned to end a novel I'd been writing with a disgruntled deputy appropriating an AK-47 from an evidence locker and opening up on his peers. At the time, I thought the idea novel, too. Two intervening decades of workplace shootings and school massacres have since disabused me of the notion. These days, such an ending would be dismissed as hackneyed and clichéd.
One doesn't know what will set a person off. They may be emotionally disturbed or predisposed to violent outbursts. One thing that can certainly push them over the edge is the thought of getting terminated, or prosecuted. To that end, law enforcement has done a fairly good job in relieving officers of their firearms incident to some red flag indicator. Indeed, it's one of the most disconcerting things a supervisor can do, particularly if he knows and likes the involved officer.
Unfortunately, much that could have been done to protect our soldiers at Fort Hood wasn't done. The political soft sell - replete with that idiot Rep. Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) euphemistically aborted "passed away" in describing the fate of the victims, and President Obama's "shout-out" prior to speaking about the tragedy - only add insult to injury. It's amazing how the government can warm of one-man terrorist cells, then shy away from acknowledging them as such when they manifest themselves.
But while Obama can't fake sympathy like Bill Clinton and Nancy Pelosi is a parasitical cretin, it's a sadder reality that the military must have at some point considered the prospect of such an incident, if for no other reason than for precedents:
In 1998, a 19-year-old Russian sailor went on a rampage, murdering eight fellow sailors and threatening to blow up the submarine on which he was serving.
In our own military, the concept of fratricide by militant Muslim was seen in the deserts of Kuwait when Sgt. Hasan Akbar killed two fellow soldiers and wounded 14 more with a grenade in 2003.
And while we're discussing Muslim threats, Michelle Malkin offers other examples in this column.
Perhaps understanding the conundrum facing non-Muslims in America as we face the question of who is and isn't militant, some high-profile Muslims have even invited more intense scrutiny.
Zuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, even said of the prospect: "I don't take offense...It's better to find out...and discover (a possible Muslim threat) before he becomes a major and kills 13 brave soldiers"
Unfortunately, any practical approach to such dilemmas would entail acknowledging that some things are readily divorceable from politically correct dogma-namely, reality. So it's not likely to happen.
Without a doubt, the military could have done a better job protecting its own. Hopefully, they will now take action to resolve this problem.
And so should we.
We in law enforcement shouldn't have to wait for such an incident to improve our threat prevention methods.
Yes, we do psychological screening during the hiring process. But people change, evolve, and some who straddle the fence today will take a side tomorrow. Do they need to be constantly evaluated? No.
But something can be done to identify those who would hurt our own.
One way is through state-of-the-art lie detection technology. It's out there, and getting better all the time. Surely, the military-and we-are in a position to ask the tough questions:
"Are you inclined to undermine your fellow soldier/officer?"
"Are you predisposed to undermine the federal government/your department?"
If it all smacks of an Orwellian nightmare, I suppose it is. But I'm betting that the 40 some-odd families forever impacted by this tragedy wish such steps had been taken.
Instead, I suppose we'll stick with what we've been doing. Adhere to the politically correct script that inclusivity is good for all. Put a blind eye to the red flags that scream out for intervention. Spend our money making our officers piss into sample cups (despite the remarkably low percentage of numbers testing positive) I remember a time when one simply recognized a fellow officer was dirty or under the influence and chased him down.
To identify our internal threats, we need to take a very simple action, one that can be summed up in a variant of another military posture.
Do ask. Do tell.
I'm indebted to G. Alan Ferguson for forwarding Ralph Peters' excellent editorial on the matter. I hope you read it.