On Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer tried to provide some perspective on the Fort Hood shooting, committed by an Islamic extremist: “It’s looking more and more like he was just, sort of, a religious nut. And you know Islam doesn’t have a majority – or the Christian religion has its full, you know, full helping of nuts too.”
Schieffer made the comments while speaking to Senator Lindsey Graham, who agreed that Muslims do not have “a corner” on extremism. Schieffer went on to wonder what role political correctness played in the shooter, Major Nidal Hasan, not being held accountable for radical comments he made prior to the attack: “Do you think the fact that he was a Muslim may have caused the military to kind of step back and be reluctant to challenge him on some of this stuff for fear that they’d be accused of discrimination or something like that?”
Graham replied: “I hope not. I hope – I hope that’s not the case....his actions do not reflect on the Islamic – Muslim faith” Schieffer added: “Well, I’m not suggesting that they do.” Promoting the very political correctness that Schieffer asked about, Graham argued: “But some people are. Some people are, and I want to say, as a United States Senator, that I reject that....Let’s don’t accuse people of basically giving him a pass because he’s a Muslim. Because I don’t think there’s any evidence of that.”
After discussing the issue with Graham, Schieffer turned to Congressman Ike Skelton about another cause for the shooting: “The irony also is that why did he wind up there in that particular job [as an Army psychiatrist]? Do you think this is a sign that the military is simply overextended, Congressman Skelton?” Skelton responded: “The Army is strained. I’ve been saying that for some time.”
Here is a full transcript of the segment:
BOB SCHIEFFER: Alright. Well, we’re going to shift now to the situation and this awful thing that happened down at Fort Hood. Congressman Skelton, you’re chairman of the Armed Services Committee. I’ve got to ask you. Here we have a man who was trying to get out of the Army, who had ranted about the U.S. war on terrorism, whose contemporaries had reported him to their superiors as, what is going on here? And yet somehow he winds up being the doctor that’s sent down to Fort Hood to counsel our soldiers going to Iraq and Afghanistan and coming back. Who dropped the ball here?
IKE SKELTON: Well, it’s very difficult to say. We had a briefing two days ago by the Army, and they went through all that they knew at the time. And they did say to us that they are investigating it. As you know, the Army has its investigators. The FBI is investigating. And, Bob, the truth will out.
SCHIEFFER: But shouldn’t someone have caught this, Congressman?
SKELTON: That’s – that could very well be true. But let’s wait until the investigation is over. If that is the case, they’ll be front and center. But right now, let’s give them a few days to find out just where the ball was dropped, if that’s the case.
SCHIEFFER: Do you plan to investigate?
SKELTON: I’m going to wait and see what they do. If they are not thorough – we will, of course, have additional hearings, briefings on this. It’s a tragedy of the first order. It’s a tragedy not just for the soldiers and their families that were there. It’s a tragedy for all of the families that wear the uniform. You see, it was not just a – a fellow soldier that did this. It was a fellow soldier whose job it was to help people. And I can imagine how traumatized the average military family must be.
SCHIEFFER: Well, I don’t think there’s any question about that. Let me go to the Senators now. Senator Lieberman – I mean, this broadcast seems to be talking a lot about Senator Lieberman and what he thinks about things. But he said this morning on Fox there should have been a zero tolerance for the kinds of things that – that were being said. And as chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, he says he is going to open an investigation. Do you think that’s the right way to go, Senator Reed?
JACK REED: Well, I think we do have to look closely at what the Army has done, what the whole armed services has done. But Chairman Skeleton has put it in the right context. We have to wait for their careful deliberations. There’s a criminal investigation going on. But we have to look at the broader issues, not just this incident, but are we taking adequate care of these soldiers? Are we providing the adequate support systems for the families? Are we also – have appropriate command responsibilities for all of our soldiers, including our medical personnel? And these are issues that go beyond this incident, and responsible for the Congress to look at them.
SKELTON: It brings to the top of the table the issue of the post- traumatic system disorder. And we in our committee, we in Congress, have addressed this now for three years. And the bill we just passed, it increases the mental health providers. It also requires additional research into this. But that is being dragged to the front and center because of this incident.
SCHIEFFER: Well, let me go now to Senator Graham. Senator Graham, I think all of that – that is true. But after all, this doctor had not gone to Afghanistan. I mean, he hadn’t gone to Iraq. He was fighting to not go there. The question I have is, what happened here that this man who had a very poor performance record at Walter Reed was somehow shuttled off down to Fort Hood, and he winds up being the one talking to these soldiers? It’s not clear to me how this could have happened. And, clearly, it should not have happened. Senator?
LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, Bob, I’ll be – yes, sir. I’ll be honest with you. I think, as Ike said, we’re doing a lot. I’m on the personnel subcommittee to address post-traumatic syndrome, the wounded warrior program. We’ve thrown a lot of money; we’ve put more medical personnel on the front lines of evaluating people. But, about this case, you know, it’s easy to second-guess. And I want to – you know, I`m not going to go down that road yet. I mean, does every soldier who shows discontent with the war and every soldier that has a bad performance report – what are we going to do with those folks? So, at the end of the day, let’s see what the evidence trail suggests here and not overreact. Because we live in a free and open society. You can be in the military and disagree with policy.
What did his co-workers say about his behavior? How strong were the warning signals? At the end of the day, maybe this is just about him. It’s certainly not about his religion, Islam. It’s not about the Army; it’s not about the war. At the end of the day, I think it’s going to be about him. And if we missed some signals, some clear signals, we’ve got to fix that. And I trust the Army to want to fix it, because it means more to them than any politician because it happened within their ranks.
SCHIEFFER: Well – Senator Graham, let me just, kind of, cut to the chase here.
GRAHAM: Yes sir.
SCHIEFFER: Do you think that the fact that this man was a Muslim – obviously he was either part of some terrorist plot – and I think most suggestions are that he wasn’t. It’s looking more and more like he was just, sort of, a religious nut. And you know-
SCHIEFFER: Islam doesn’t have a majority-
GRAHAM: A corner on that-
SCHIEFFER: -or the Christian religion has its full, you know, full helping of nuts too. But do you think the fact that he was a Muslim may have caused the military to kind of step back and be reluctant to challenge him on some of this stuff for fear that they’d be accused of discrimination or something like that?
GRAHAM: I hope not. I hope – I hope that’s not the case. But to those members of the United States military who are Muslims, thank you for protecting our nation, thank you for standing up against people who are trying to hijack your religion. I hope that’s not the case, Bob. But we need – his actions do not reflect on the Islamic – Muslim faith any more than burning a cross-
SCHIEFFER: Well, I’m not suggesting that they do.
GRAHAM: I know.
SCHIEFFER: I’m just suggesting-
GRAHAM: But some people are. Some people are, and I want to say, as a United States Senator, that I reject that. This man’s actions reflect on him. And if we missed some signals about him that we should have known, great. But let’s don’t take this to a level that we should not. Let’s don’t accuse people of basically giving him a pass because he’s a Muslim. Because I don’t think there’s any evidence of that.
SCHIEFFER: Alright. Senator Reed, what’s your thought on that?
REED: Well, there are approximately 3,000 Americans, men and women of the Muslim faith who are serving in the Army. They’ve been wounded. Some, I’ve been told, have been killed in action. Their record is one of service and dedication to the nation and selfless service. So I agree entirely with Senator Graham. This is not about theology. This is about doing your duty as a soldier.
And also, I think we have to be careful not to leap beyond the current investigation. And I think, again, what we will find is that someone who has deep psychiatric problems. They’re not unique to the Army. We’ve had terrible shootings in college campuses and office buildings, and those things are the result of ultimately of one person’s psychological, psychiatric difficulties. The irony here is, is he was a psychiatrist. The irony here is he joined the Army as ROTC, at Virginia Tech, came through the Army. He was not sort of just here as a transient-
SCHIEFFER: Well, let me just interrupt you, because I want to get one final comment. The irony also is that why did he wind up there in that particular job? Do you think this is a sign that the military is simply overextended, Congressman Skelton?
SKELTON: The Army is strained. I’ve been saying that for some time. That’s why we increased the size of the Army this year. But let me say this, Bob. We should not rush to judgment. I’m an old prosecuting attorney and I know that it takes time to investigate. We have excellent Army investigators. We have the FBI, and they’re as good as they come in investigating this whole issue. The truth will out. We will soon find out answers to the very questions that you’re asking. And the chips will fall where they may. Right now, I think our sole concern should be those families, the military families, the Army families, and those that suffered injuries and death.
SCHIEFFER: Well, gentlemen, I want to thank all of you for being here to talk about this, this morning.