TerrorismGiuliani says political correctness hampers fight against domestic terrorists

Published 15 July 2013

The Department of Defense initially described Army Major Nidal Hassan’s Fort Hood shooting spree as “terrorism,” but quickly changed that definition to “workplace violence.” Testifying before a congressional panel, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani criticized DoD’s decision, and political correctness more generally, saying that “You can’t fight an enemy you don’t acknowledge.”

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani last week told the House Homeland Security Committee  that “political correctness” is keeping law enforcement officials from confronting the threat of U.S.-based jihadists such as Army Major Nidal Hassan, who now stands trial  for the Fort Hood shooting spree.

Hassan was one of the topics discussed during the committee’s hearing on Assessing Attacks on the Homeland: From Fort Hood to Boston.

NBC reports that committee chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said that federal officials have failed to use the local knowledge and “street” awareness of local law enforcement agencies across the country to stop domestic terrorists.

McCaul added that federal counterterrorism officials should have told local police in Boston about the Russian government’s warning regarding Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s suspicious activities.

“Local law enforcement are the eyes and ears on the ground; you have 12,000 FBI agents… nationwide and you have 8,000,000 police officers nationwide…. So it seems to me they’re a great force multiplier,” McCaul told NBC. “But here we are 12 years after 9/11 and we still are not seeing that kind of coordination and communication taking place. 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.

Giuliani also criticized Defense Department officials for calling Hassan’s attack “workplace violence,” a label he believed was not only “preposterous,” but dangerous.

“You can’t fight an enemy you don’t acknowledge,” Giuliani told the panel. “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.”

Giuliani added that “the elevation of political correctness over sound investigative judgment and data collection, 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.”

Michael Leiter, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, who also testified at the hearing, warned the committee that data on potential domestic terrorists who have not committed any terrorist acts is sensitive information. “There are real civil liberties issues here,” he said, because intelligence-sharing implies that local police might conduct surveillance on someone who has not committed any crime or act of terrorism.