A familiar pattern emerges after every treacherous assault on this country. The surprise attack is dissected not just to learn who wreaked all the havoc, but who was responsible for missing the clues that it was coming.
It happened after
The country's lack of preparedness became more than just another campaign issue in the presidential election of 1944. It inspired accusations of criminal negligence, if not outright treason. A small industry of conspiracy theorists sprouted. To this day, such accusations pop up not just in the smudgy pamphlets of fringe groups but in weighty tomes of revisionist history.
It happened again after
Predictably enough, high-ranking officials responsible for counter-terrorism operations that failed to counter terrorism wrote self-justifying memoirs casting the blame on higher-ups. Congressional investigations verged on witch hunts. The partisan search for villains soon went all the way to the
Now it's still happening again. All the clues leading to that murderous attack at Fort Hood aren't just being investigated and laid out for the public, as they should be, but arranged in a pattern that points the finger at those who, we can now see in perfect hindsight, should have seen it coming.
The bloody rampage has already been blamed on everything from American Muslims in general to the
How long before the lunatic fringe, which has a way of becoming the lunatic warp-and-woof at such times, finds a way to blame the massacre at Fort Hood on the current occupant of the
By all means, let's note all the clues that were missed. But let us remember that they appear evident only now, after they culminated in the massacre at Fort Hood. Leave out that one, culminating piece of the bloody puzzle, and it's easier to understand how the others were ignored.
Yes, the suspect may or may not have talked about leaving the
Yes, the suspect had communicated with a radical imam -- but he was engaged in writing a research paper at the time, which was the reason officials concluded he didn't warrant further investigation.
Yes, the suspect had criticized the wars in
And how take action on the basis of a soldier's comments without inviting a lawsuit from the
There was a time when such matters were handled by the military courts -- with a dispatch, justice and finality unknown today.
This isn't General Washington's continental army any more, in which serious offenses could be tried promptly by military commission and the verdict carried out with exemplary dispatch. See the case of the gallant British officer who conspired with
The bravery of
To quote an aide to General Washington, a colonel by the name of
Imagine how many years
Today the whole idea of trial by military commissions is under fire, the military prison at Guantanamo is due to be shut down by the end of the year, and some of the bloodiest, most dangerous and self-confessed terrorists now imprisoned there could wind up in extended trials with no prompt or certain result.
For that growing possibility, this administration does bear a heavy responsibility. Its promise to close Guantanamo, and transfer case after case to
The most heartening aspect of the developing case of U.S. v.
- Terror Trials Are Our Defining Moment
- Trying Terrorists in U.S. is Dangerous
- Civilian Courts Fight Terrorists, Too
- It's No Way to Fight a War on Terror
- What, No Ticker-Tape Parade?
- The Politics of Fort Hood
- Isolated Incident at Fort Hood
- Same Old, Same Old at Fort Hood
- Tale of Two Journalists
- U.S. is Striking Back in the Global Cyberwar
- U.S. Civil Rights Commission Investigates College Admission Bias
- Public Transportation and Fast Commutes: Harder to Find Than You Might Think
- Cities for People Who Hate Driving and Long Commutes
- Moves to Seize Mosques Spark Outrage
- Supreme Court Weighs Juvenile Life Sentences
(C) 2009 Paul Greenberg