Lieberman: Obama Administration Needs to Start Talking About Islamic Extremism

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 15 2011 1:10 PM

Lieberman: Obama Administration Needs to Start Talking About Islamic Extremism

The 2009 killings at Fort Hood got their first and possibly only hearing in this Congress today. It followed the release of a report from the Senate's Homeland Security report on Fort Hood, in which researchers argued what conservatives have been arguing -- political correctness might be costing the military the ability to react to Islamic extremism in its midst. That, said witnesses today, is what happened with Nidal Hassan.

"What should have Hasan's military superiors done?" said Gen. Jack Keane, ret. "They should have been able to put the information together and conclude that Hasan believed the same thing that the violent Islamist extremist enemies of this country believe, and that meant he should have been out of the military."

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Nearly a dozen survivors (including Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford ) or members of victims' families were in the room for this. They didn't hear much in terms of next steps. Lieberman made multiple references to "members of the administration" who were at fault, but didn't name them; he ended the hearing when a vote began, so he did not answer more questions. But his thinking was expressed well in an exchange about terrorism with security consultant J. Philip Mudd.

"As somebody who wants to kill the ideology," said Mudd, "I think we ought to call them what they hate to be called. They like to be called terrorists. They like to be called Islamic radicals. They hate to be called murderers, and that is what they are."

"I'm unconvinced," said Lieberman. "I'm going to call them all of those things, because that's what they are. They're violent Islamist extremists, and they're murderers, and they're terrorists."

"I agree that's what they are," said Mudd, "but I'm saying, don't give them what they want."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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