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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Born in the USA: Preventing the next Fort Hood

<st week’s massacre at Fort Hood last week left 13 American soldiers dead and another 29 injured. What made the attack even more shocking was the fact that it occurred on American soil, where our soldiers should feel safe from war, and that another U.S. soldier committed this terrible crime. So what can we learn from this attack and bring with us into the future as the U.S. continues to fight terrorism around the world?

The only positive news that came out of the shooting was that U.S. intelligence agencies intercepted 10 to 20 e-mails between the shooter, Major Hasan, and a radical imam in Yemen who is sympathetic to Al Qaeda. The dynamics of our intelligence system works to some extent, as we were able to pick up communications involving someone who was not even thought to have been associated with Al Qaeda.

However, beyond this lies the bad news, which is that somewhere along the way there was a breakdown. Someone saw this information and did not know how to handle it or to whom to show it. Understandably, Americans across the country and especially the families of the Fort Hood victims are outraged that this tragedy could have been prevented. These families will never be the same, their lives are shattered, and this didn’t have to happen.

Some analysts have suggested that the reason why this intelligence was not properly used was because of the constant battles that have been waged in Washington regarding (among others) the Patriot Act, Guantanamo Bay and waterboarding. Intelligence officials don’t want to be caught up in this debate, and for the sake of political correctness they might have been looking the other way, hoping nothing would happen.

Others claim the main issue is that our intelligence officials are confused. In the midst of all this public debate over counter-terrorism policies, what should you do when you need to make a decision based on instinct or your gut? In these instances, instead of acting, you pause and hesitate. Our political culture has made these officials whose job it is to keep us safe unsure. We have been hotly debating how to define a terrorist, what their legal standing is and how and where we can fight these enemies. Instead of looking at the big picture, which is protecting American lives and interests, we are getting bogged down in minutiae.

The attack last week reaffirms one thing: while we are debating how to fight these terrorists without breaking our laws and compromising our “ideals”, the terrorists are not having any such conversation among themselves. They are still trying to kill us whenever and wherever we are.

In order to prove that we have learned something from this brutal attack and thus improve our ability to protect American lives, we need to find out why this intelligence wasn’t managed better and which governmental agencies were aware of it. After that, we need to look at all of the protocols within the intelligence community and streamline communication between and within agencies.

Even if these changes force us to change the way we look at and fight terrorists, it is necessary. The President and other politicians can’t worry about sacrificing political correctness and changing a few laws in order to keep this country safe.

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