Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani told a hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee Wednesday that a regime of “political correctness” was keeping law enforcement officials from adequately confronting the threat of U.S.-based jihadists such as Army Major Nidal Hassan who went on a shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas in 2009, killing 13 people and wounding dozens. Hassan is now being tried in a military court at Fort Hood.
He criticized Defense Department officials for describing Hassan’s killing spree as “workplace violence” – a label that he said was not only “preposterous,” but dangerous as well.
Hassan was one focus of the House hearing Wednesday on the topic of “Assessing Attacks on the Homeland: From Fort Hood to Boston.”
“You can’t fight an enemy you don’t acknowledge,” Giuliani said. “If the party line is to never use the words ‘Islamic extremist terrorists,’ if there’s a reluctance to label something a jihadist act, then the result is… a bureaucracy that is paralyzed by a greater fear of being wrong – that they’re going to identify someone as an Islamic extremist terrorist – than they’re going to be wrong about preventing a bombing.”
The former New York City mayor decried “the elevation of political correctness over sound investigative judgment and data collection” which he said “explains the failure to identify Major Hassan as a terrorist despite repeated indications of his jihadist views. Not only did political correctness fail to identify him as a terrorist, it led to his being promoted in the United States Army.”
Committee chairman Rep. Michael McCaul, R- Texas, said federal officials are failing to use the local knowledge and “street” awareness of police departments around the country to find and deter domestic jihadists.
Federal counter-terrorism officials, he said, should have given Boston-area police some notice of the Russian government’s warning about the Tsarnaev brothers and the travel of Tamerlan Tsarnaev to Russia last year.
“Local law enforcement are the eyes and ears on the ground; you have 12,000 FBI agents… nationwide and you have 8000,000 police officers nationwide…. So it seems to me they’re a great force multiplier,” McCaul said. “But here we are 12 years after 9/11 and we still are not seeing that kind of coordination and communication taking place” between federal officials and local police. “They want to help – the Boston Police wanted to be a part of this, they wanted to be at the table” before the attack took place.
Another witness, Michael Leiter, former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, cautioned the committee that intelligence data about potential jihadists who haven’t yet acted is sensitive information. “There are real civil liberties issues here” since intelligence-sharing implied that local police might conduct surveillance of someone who has not committed any crime or act of terrorism.