Fort Hood blame game


Maj. Nidal Malik was known in certain circles to say inflammatory things that made even fellow Muslims uncomfortable. He was also known to have contacted an imam overseas who is considered hostile to the United States. The FBI and other U.S. intelligence agencies had picked up on some of this and were conducting a probe. But apparently their probe wasn’t fast, hard or deep enough, because they did not stop him.

Nidal was a psychiatrist who seemed unbalanced to some, a man who listened to the nightmares of traumatized soldiers. Though that put him at risk of emotional trauma himself, the Army didn’t seem to heed his agitated state, not even when he repeatedly asked for an exception that would keep Muslim soldiers from having to serve in a war against other Muslims. They did not stop him.

He emptied his apartment, gave things away — a classic sign that he planned to commit suicide, whether by his own hand or someone else’s, who can say? Neighbors noticed, but it didn’t set off any alarm bells with them. They did not stop him.

Now 13 people are dead. Officials say no one saw the horror unfolding inside Malik’s mind until he opened fire. And yet there were so many warning signs.

Now federal officials are pointing fingers. The FBI is pointing at Army brass.

The army is pointing at the FBI. But there is failure enough to go around.

Let’s hope the focus on Malik’s religion doesn’t detract from getting to the bottom of why a man with so many serious problems, whose activities were enough to warrant FBI suspicion, who’d all but screamed out loud that he wasn’t fit to serve, was allowed to remain in the military.

Bad headline causes havoc

The Zombie Security Advisory System threat condition was upgraded to Vermillion for a short period of time on Tuesday, Nov. 10, when AFP reported, “Man shoots dead woman, himself.” It seemed for a time that the dreaded zombie apocalypse had finally overtaken us and that we would all need to arm ourselves against the living dead, or risk having our brains become dinner. But that wasn’t the case at all.

Instead, it was an instance of shoddy headline writing. What actually happened was that an Oregon man had shot a woman dead, before turning his weapon on himself. But someone on the copy desk put the adjective in the wrong place, no doubt sending fearful thousands scrambling for their shotguns and their zombie-proof shelters.

Once the truth was learned, the threat condition was downgraded to Burnt Sienna, where it remains. No need to grab the shotgun, but please don’t leave your brains unattended.

The right priorities

Local law enforcement regularly takes criticism, and sometimes deservedly so, most recently in the case of how Boulder police handled the possibility of a revived Mall Crawl.

But District Attorney Stan Garnett and Cmdr. Tommy Sloan of the Boulder County Drug Task Force deserve some credit for the restraint they have shown in not going after local medical marijuana dispensaries in a time when the legal landscape has been uneven, to say the least.

Law enforcement in more conservative counties and municipalities that have enacted more stringent regulations on medical marijuana may be tempted to crack down on dispensaries now, given the recent Colorado Court of Appeals ruling that caregivers need to be providing additional services.

But if their comments to Boulder Weekly are sincere, Garnett and Sloan are taking a wait-and-see approach, which seems to be prudent, considering the legal uncertainty of the current situation and the left-leaning politics of Boulder County. They say they will continue to work with dispensaries rather than against them, which, if true, is commendable.

Garnett and Sloan seem to realize that there are much bigger things to worry about than the upsurge in medicinal marijuana use and marijuana dispensaries.