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Lieberman’s Investigation Into the Fort Hood ‘Terrorist’ Attack

Jesselyn Radack at Daily Kos has a nice roundup of yesterday’s Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing, called and led by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who opened the morning session with an announcement that the shootings of 13 soldiers on the U.S. Army base was a “terrorist” attack as opposed to a mass-murder. Never mind that the military and the FBI are just starting their own investigations of the shooting, and are far from having unearthed enough facts to draw any conclusions just yet.

Here’s Radack’s take on how Lieberman is using the incident to scare the American populace into suspecting more Muslims are home-grown terrorists.

What struck me about the hearing yesterday was how often Lieberman and others kept calling Nidal Hassan a “lone wolf” terrorist, suggesting not so subtly that the controversial “lone wolf” provision of the USA Patriot Act ought to be re-authorized. A recent House markup of the bill removed that provision, which allows the FBI to eavesdrop and otherwise target so-called “lone wolves” who allegedly plan all on their own, without any help from known foreign terrorist organizations, to launch a terrorist attack on the United States. One reason the provision was removed is because it’s never actually been used, and the Justice Department has had a hard time making the case that it’s actually necessary and not prone to abuse.

Judging from the comments at the Lieberman-led hearing yesterday, you would have thought that the Hasan case now offers the perfect argument for why that piece of the law is needed. What none of the senators mentioned, however, was that the “lone wolf” provision of the Patriot Act wouldn’t actually apply to Hasan.

For one thing, the government’s already said that Hasan did have communications with a foreign al-Qaeda operative, and so it could have already been monitoring him under other legal authorities. The second point overlooked at the hearing is that Hasan is a U.S. citizen, and the “lone wolf” provision only applies to a “non-U.S. person.”

It will be interesting to see how the “lone wolf” idea fares at the next Senate markup session of the bill.

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