On CNN Saturday Morning News today, anchor Betty Nguyen interviewed a psychiatrist about Major Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 and wounded 30 others in a shooting spree Thursday in Fort Hood, Texas. She began by delving into possible reason for Hasan's actions:
NGUYEN: Dr. Paul Ragan, a psychiatrist who specializes in post-traumatic stress disorder joins me now from Nashville. Dr. Ragan, let me ask you this. Are the Ft. Hood shootings the action of someone who might have suffered from PTSD?
DR. PAUL RAGAN, SPECIALIZES IN POST-TRAUMATIC SYNDROME: I think actually that's fairly unlikely. Dr. Hasan just finished a two-year fellowship at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress and he had only been an independent Army psychiatrist for about four months. That is at an operational base. So for him to have been suffering from PTSD I think is highly unlikely.
NGUYEN: Doctor, let me ask you this, then. A lot of people find it awfully ironic too, he was a psychiatrist, someone to help people when they have issues, yet he's also accused of shooting of this magnitude. What would cause someone, especially with that kind of training and that kind of background to do something like this?
RAGAN: Well, that's the huge question before us. I don't have the exact answer. I can give a little guidance. To put it bluntly, the wheels came off many, many months or even years probably before he showed up at Ft. Hood. Usually, in the military after you finish your residency, you go and do your operational tour. That's what I did. Then, the Army allowed him to do a two-year fellowship. There's some evidence that he may have been trying to avoid deploying. And so where did he not identify with the military mission? He had been in the military as the soldier said earlier, over 10 years. What was it that happened that he couldn't fulfill his military obligations?
Nguyen then moved on to another potential reason for the massacre:
NGUYEN: Yeah. So, the question, too, is it the fact that he disagreed with the mission or was it taunting, was it teasing, was it harassment? Could these things have played a role as well?
RAGAN: They may have. I can tell you, in the medical community over 25 years I have been intermittently teased for being a psychiatrist. That, I don't think, was the tipping point for him. And clearly, there's a good deal of prejudice in certain areas of our society toward Muslims, but, again, as the soldier told us, the Army has been pretty strict about not engaging in that type of harassment. So again, I don't think that was the tipping point. I think it was earlier.
So who would taunt, tease or harasss a field grade Army officer? It's implausible that anyone lower than him in rank would be so foolish. People at his rank and above are probably astute enough in terms of political correctness to realize that their careers could easily be over with just one career ending utterance.
Moreover, earlier in her program Nguyen aired an interview of an Army sergeant who is Muslim conducted by correspondent Sean Callebs. When asked about harassment because of his religion, the sergeant responded:
The only experience that I did have was while I was in basic training and a friend, a battle buddy is my own -- basically the guy I room with, the guy who I have to look out for and he has to look out for me, just made a joke regarding my religion and my drill sergeant took that very seriously and had him disciplined from my entire company and he was punished for his actions, even though he was jokingly saying it to me.
Still, Nguyen wanted to explore that as a reason for what happened. With both PTSD and harassment effectively set aside, she moved on to one last reason:
NGUYEN: What about religious beliefs? Do you think that might have played a role because there were reports that he gave out the Koran the day of the shooting, also reports that he may have yelled Allah akbar right before the shootings. Could religion have played a role?
RAGAN: I think religion did play a role. Evidently he was counseled about proselytizing patients which was clearly a boundary violation. We have a report that he gave in his class at the fellowship, he was talking about endorsing suicide bombings. He was clearly engaging in some type of tunnel vision where this kind of radical view, which is not, as again the soldier said before, is not a part of mainstream Muslim religion. And so, he was -- there was something going on there, very much so.
Hasan's motivation may never be determined with absolute certainty. Still, it's interesting that some in the mainstream media look for other reasons - as remote as they may be - before considering a more obvious one.