I’m going to dig into the question of motive and “crime” with regards to Ft. Hood. My heart goes out to the victims and their families of that awful day brought. Also, heads should roll over what sure looks like a runaway series of failures seemingly hampered by politically correct bureaucratic mechanization. But, I wish to make what I feel is an important, if ultimately academic, point: I don’t think Hasan’s massacre of his fellow soldiers at Ft. Hood qualifies as terrorism. Its a big deal in the right wing blogosphere to label him a terrorist and I sympathize with the point. However, we’ve devalued other important words (racist and fascist, to name two biggies) through overuse and the application of fluid definitions and I’d prefer we didn’t do so with the heinous act of terrorism. Hasan seems to have had jihadist motive or at least a jihadist rationalization, but I still don’t think it qualifies as “terrorism” as we commonly understand it.

  1. It was not a civilian target and therefore would not have been likely to effect daily behavior of the populace. This isn’t a cut and dry qualification but I think it is relevant here.
  2. There is no reasonable explanation for the massacre from a political standpoint. I doubt Hasan though the attack would get us out of Iraq or Afghanistan, but I could be giving him too much credit for rationalization. Attacking troops on American soil is not going to strike fear into Americans. It’ll likely have the opposite effect.

The FBI’s definition of terrorism hinges on these two basic tenants, though one could argue that a military base is a “government” facility. But, this was not just anybody attacking a military base. It was one of our own soldiers. Austin Bay brings up another “T” word: Treason. Or “traitor.” I think these terms fit perfectly and are vital to labeling this man for what he is. His flirtation with extremist jihadism, if media reports are to be believed, certainly should be evidence against the likely defense of insanity. But, still this man chose one thing, his religion, over that of his duty to his country. Furthermore, he took up arms against his fellow soldiers. He should receive a military trial and a military execution for the act of treason. He wanted to be a martyr it would seem. We should oblige.

UPDATE: I see Cliff May at the National Review basically said the same thing:

My two cents: The most widely accepted definition of a terrorist is someone who intentionally targets non-combatants with violence for political purposes. The shooter at Fort Hood, by contrast, was targeting uniformed combatants. In that sense, he was not a terrorist. So what was he? A traitor, a man who wore his country’s uniform, and killed his fellow countrymen in the service of his country’s enemies.

Is there a reason we no longer use the word “traitor”? Maybe it’s time to reintroduce it into our vocabulary?