A Moment of Tense Consensus on Fort Hood, Islamic Extremism and Political Correctness
Togo West and Vernon Clark, the co-chairmen of Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s Fort Hood commission, have been beaten up all morning in the Senate Armed Services Committee for not focusing exclusively on the threat of Islamic extremist radicalization within the military. Acrimony is all around. West tried to make the case that he and Clark have to take a comprehensive approach. “This is our one shot at it, Adm. Clark and I, to look at the indicators [of] religious extremism, whatever its source,” he said. Clark, a former chief of Naval operations, was blunter: ”Someone accused me of being politically correct. I don’t care.”
Senators Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Clark Collins (R-Maine) *[sorry, long morning/fast typing] *pleaded with the two of them to put out at least some specific guidelines for the military services to recognize the warning signs of Islamic extremism, noting that when West was Army secretary in the 1990s, he approved a pamphlet on precisely those signs for what was then a danger from white-supremacist infiltration. West and Clark said they took the point, but reluctantly.
Enter panel chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who said such a “legitimate effort” needed to ensure that “Muslims be involved” in distinguishing the warning signs of Islamic extremism from the signs of legitimate religious expressing. “Excellent suggestion,” Lieberman replied, adding it would be a “real omission if Muslims weren’t involved.” Collins endorsed it as well.
“What we are tolerant of, and proud of it, are other people’s religious views,” said Levin. And the hearing went into closed session from there.