Surprise attack

Different stories are emerging about Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the U.S. Army psychiatrist who is alleged to have killed 13 people and wounded 30 others at Fort Hood, Texas, on Thursday.


Hasan's former imam recalled him as "a reserved guy with a nice personality." Fort Hood's Muslim chaplain "found him to be very pleasant."

But others recollect Hasan -- whose specialty was treating traumatized and distressed military -- as a poorly performing soldier who was increasingly emotional and critical about U.S. action in Afghanistan and Iraq. And he recently received orders to deploy overseas.

Hasan's aunt told The Washington Post he had been harassed about being Muslim in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism attacks.

Harassed? Really? It should be noted that, months ago, Hasan set off law enforcement's radar because of Internet postings about suicide bombings, "including posts that equated suicide bombers to soldiers who throw themselves on a grenade to save the lives of their comrades," the Associated Press said.

Hasan lives in the most religiously tolerant country on Earth. But if he was on the 'Net, degrading America and holding suicide bombers up for praise, he should expect to get bombarded with scorn.

But for sheer callousness, it would be hard to top President Obama in the wake of the deadliest killings at a U.S. military installation. A chief executive with any presence of mind about the gravity of the situation would have offered heartfelt, respectful and reassuring words to a shaken people.

But what did he do Thursday? He sandwiched in a couple minutes' worth of comments about the slayings among remarks he was giving at a conference hosted by the Interior Department's Bureau of Indian Affairs.

These are his uniformed people who were killed, but he seemed more emotionally engaged in thanking the organizers of this obscure conference than in showing genuine remorse for the fallen. The president either is detached from reality, or he simply doesn't care. What a cold fish.

Justice has yet to play out to determine the level of Hasan's guilt or innocence. But the pieces of the puzzle coming together are forming a portrait of a man who might have been helped -- or thwarted -- if those pieces were assembled and scrutinized sooner by the people around him.

Hasan gave every indication to superiors that he was a ticking time bomb leaning toward domestic jihad. That kind of anti-Americanism -- regardless of what race, religion or creed you are -- cannot be tolerated in the U.S. military. And if it's detected, it needs to be weeded out immediately.