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Joe Lieberman, Meet Gen. Casey

Despite the appalling argumentative tactic of implying that Muslim American soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen are future Nidal Hasans, the Army’s chief of staff, Gen. George Casey, made this argument eloquently on the Sunday shows:

General George Casey Jr., the Army chief of staff, said on Sunday that he was concerned that speculation about the religious beliefs of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, accused of killing 12 fellow soldiers and one civilian and wounding dozens of others in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, could “cause a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers.”

“I’ve asked our Army leaders to be on the lookout for that,” General Casey said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union. “It would be a shame — as great a tragedy as this was — it would be a shame if our diversity became a casualty as well.”

But, as if Casey never said it, here’s the independent senator from Connecticut:

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” labeled the shooting spree “the most destructive terrorist act to be committed on American soil since 9/11” and said that as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee he intended to investigate Major Hasan’s suspected motives and whether the Army “missed warning signs that should have led them to essentially discharge him.”

“If Hasan was showing signs, saying to people that he had become an Islamist extremist, the U.S. Army has to have zero tolerance,” Senator Lieberman said. “He should have been gone.”

It’s important to ask the question of whether Hasan acted alone. The early evidence is that he did. But the question is appropriate, because the stakes are people’s lives.

But that’s the stake in Lieberman’s investigation, too. Inquiries like the one he described have an awful tendency to build the conclusion into the premise — turning constitutionally protected speech or religious behavior or dissent into troubling “signs,” when the person exercising his freedoms worships in a mosque and not a church or a synagogue. The soldiers who died at Ft. Hood did not serve their country to see it devolve into witchhunting.

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