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None Dare Call it Terror

by Karen McKay, LTC US Army (ret) [Asheville Tribune]

The Fort Hood massacre. Terrorism? Act of War? Treason? Crime of mass murder? Why all the public agonizing over what to call it? It seems complicated, but it's not. Words have meanings, and meanings have consequences.

Some have declared the Fort Hood attack [5 November 2009] to be an Act of War. No. An Act of War, i.e. a casus belli is an action taken by one country against another with which it is supposedly at peace with the intention of starting a war – or an action which is taken by a state to be cause for war. Pearl Harbor was a casus belli. 9/11 was a casus belli. Al Qaeda is not another country, but for all intents and purposes, it is acting as a virtual state. It had been at war with us for more than ten years before 9/11, but the United States had not acknowledged any previous attack as casus belli.

Treason? Well, yes, the man did take an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same. The label of traitor, however, has lost its sting. Treason is so common since the publication of the Pentagon Papers that it has achieved banality.

There are more than 100 official definitions of terror. In the early 1980s, this writer was instrumental in the official US Congress' definition of terrorism that would not sweep up legitimate, guerrilla, resistance, and freedom fighters in the same broad brush stroke. The cynical cliché that one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist is uninformed idiocy.

Narrowly defined, terrorism is a violent act publicly perpetrated against civilian targets for the purpose of political gains. Guerrilla warfare is a violent act against a legitimate military target in support of war aims. In practicality, there can be a gray area between the two.

Major Nidal Malik Hasan's attack on unarmed military personnel on a military installation could come under the heading of guerrilla warfare. Under a broader definition, it could be categorized as terrorism because Fort Hood is not, technically, a combat zone, and he knew that his targets would be unarmed because nobody other than law enforcement [personnel] at a military base is permitted to carry arms outside of a training [or deployment] situation.

Nonetheless, the FBI's own website states: In accordance with U.S. counterterrorism policy, the FBI considers terrorists to be criminals. ( That is the crime here. What Hasan's assault most emphatically IS NOT is a crime. Whether a terrorist attack or a guerrilla action, this was not simply a crime of mass murder.

Was Hasan a radical already when he first enlisted in the Army, and then had his [professional] education all the way through his MD specialty paid for by the Army? Was he planning for this all along? Or did he become radicalized by Islamist recruiters at the mosque where he prayed beside the future 9/11 hijackers, preached to by an al-Qaeda imam? Or was he a lone wolf?

It matters not to this discussion. He was a sleeper cell, and he acted. Whether he was a one-man cell, self- or other-actuated, or part of a group, may be learned in the course of [further] investigation. Bottom line: Nidal Malik Hasan is an enemy agent operating inside our military. As such, he falls under the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) and the Geneva Conventions (Law of Land Warfare). He is not subject to US or Texas criminal law.

What is crucially important is that he was permitted by the system to be a sleeper cell. He was known to be an Islamist – outspokenly anti-American and pro-terrorist – and those who said they were watching him were restrained apparently by political correctness.

Niccolo Machiavelli in The Prince warned that moral decay so weakens a country that it will collapse from a determined push. The fall of the Mede empire to Cyrus. The fall of Rome to barbarians. The capitulation of France to the Nazis. The disintegration of the Soviet Union under Reagan's relentless pressure.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin in his 1999 book, America's Real War, posits that Liberalism and Political Correctness are greater threats to the survival of our nation than any outside enemy. It is this corrosive philosophy that permitted an officer of the US Army to operate openly as, at minimum, a terrorist sympathizer without restraint.

In psychological warfare, semantics is all; facts are irrelevant. Political correctness sprang fully grown from the forehead of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's gifted propagandist and specialist in mind control. His attentive students find easy prey still in the gullible, the mentally lazy, the well-intentioned, the fearful and the ignorant in America and Europe.

Political correctness is itself a form of terrorism enforcing group-think. Americans are terrified of being accused of bigotry, racism, Fascism, warmongering, sexism, (fill in the blank) if they do not conform to the Liberal world view. Even Army Chief of Staff General George W. Casey worries that the Fort Hood massacre might harm diversity in the service.

It's intellectual cowardice, and the outcome is the paralysis of Political Correctness. Its iron grip is evident every day in the language of news. Euphemisms avoid the unpleasantness of calling a spade a spade. Terrorists are called militants or extremists. President Barack Obama has banished the term terror. We make war no more; we engage in overseas contingencies. Obama's Agenda for Defense, issued by the White House on January 22, 2009, swears to deter and defeat any conventional competitors. Competitors, not enemies. The Fort Hood shooter becomes the alleged or suspected shooter. The attack becomes a tragedy. Tragedy it was for the victims and their loved ones, but the act was an atrocity.

Media pundits and politicians cannot look reality in the eye. The PC Iron Maidens they wear dictate that the alleged shooter, Major Malik Nidal Hasan, is disturbed, suffering from Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder, even a nut. He was hazed for his religious views, he is excused and understood for his Islamist statements, his sympathetic admiration of suicide bombers was merely medical research.

The Fort Hood massacre should be recognized as casus belli to declare war on the Political Correctness that allowed Hasan to skate through the system. The Political Correctness that denies both the act of terrorism and the Islamist identity of attackers in Arkansas, New Jersey, Los Angeles, DC Metro area, North Carolina and other places in recent years. The Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil monkeys must die, and the clear-eyed Bald Eagle be restored, unpinioned and blindfold removed, if our nation is to survive.

[editorial note: "Terror, like treason, never prospers; if it prosper, none dare call it terror ...."; "Terror never triumphs. Where's the error? If it triumphs, none dare call it terror." paraphrase of John Harington]