Just As CNN Begins to Implicate Young Gang-Bangers in Fort Hood Mass Slayings, a 39-Year-Old Army Major is ID'd as Killer

A funny moment--not funny ha-ha but funny nonetheless--happened during CNN's live coverage of the Fort Hood slayings this afternoon.

For anyone who was in a cave, at Disneyland or on the road at the time, 12 people were shot dead and 31 others were wounded in a shooting rampage at the U.S. Army base in Texas, a prime point of deployment for U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The lone gunman, who was originally reported to be among the soldiers killed, was being treated for four gunshot wounds, according to Army brass.

After a CNN reporter had just mentioned on air how fears have been expressed that lower enlistment standards have allowed people with criminal records to join the armed forces, Situation Room anchorman Wolf Blitzer wondered aloud to CNN consultant and retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark if the gunman could have been a young gang-banger plucked from the worst streets in America.

As Clark began to answer, Blitzer interrupted to inform that the gunman had just been identified. At least one viewer repeated to himself, "don't be a young gang-banger, don't be a young gang-banger . . ." Of course, he wasn't.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer
CNN's Wolf Blitzer

Blitzer identified him as 39-year-old Army Major Malik Nidal Hasan of Virginia. (Surely, another viewer somewhere had just been repeating to himself, "don't have an Arab last name, don't have an Arab last name . . .")

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The Army later said Hasan was a psychiatrist who was facing an upcoming deployment to Iraq. The Washington Post reported Hasan had previously lived near D.C. and had worked at Walter Reed. U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) told Fox News, "I do know that he has been known to have told people that he was upset about going (to Iraq)."

Fort Hood, which is home to the Army's 1st Calvary Division, is familiar to anyone who attended the January 2007 Laguna Beach Film Society screening of the documentary Sir! No Sir!, which featured an appearance by filmmaker David Zeiger.

Sir! No Sir! deals with in-uniform dissent ranging from street protests to refusing to serve, and from defying battlefield orders to blowing up military superiors through a practice called "fragging."

Zeiger was a civilian peace activist operating in the early 1970s out of the Oleo Strut coffeehouse in Killeen, Texas, where soldiers from Fort Hood would go to decompress from the horrors of Vietnam. This year, the Oleo Strut tradition was resurrected with the opening of Under the Hood Cafe, a Killeen outreach center for antiwar activists to reach out to area soldiers and provide them with support.

Zeiger said that night in Laguna Beach that his film, which he'd sat on for several years, was only possible for release because of the Iraq War and soldiers' opposition to it.


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