Back in 1969, when Richard Nixon was trying to conscript me, part of the process accompanying physical examinations and aptitude testing was a lengthy background form.
The US Military was extremely conservative, since in 1969 it was still seeking assurances that prospective draftees were not members or associates of such examples of pre-WWII history as the German American Bund and the Black Dragon Society.
I was in a cranky mood that day, and being tickled at encountering such historical references in a contemporary document, I affirmed my own membership in the KokuryÅ«kai (Black Dragon Society).
I was perfectly confident that, if I got into any kind of trouble over this, I could easily prove that the society in question no longer existed and actually had not existed during my own lifetime, and I even gleefully scrawled some patriotic Japanese slogan like HakkÅ ichiu (All the world under one roof!) or Tenno Heika Banzai (Serve the Emperor for Ten Thousand Years!) sarcastically in the form’s margin.
I was a trifle disappointed that no one noticed or ever mentioned my alleged sinister Oriental associations.
Presumably today, the contemporary version of the same form asks if you belong to, or subscribe to publications by, or sympathize with the goals of unsavory Islamic groups like al Qaeda and the Order of Assassins.
And clearly, today, just like back in 1969, the US Army does not look terribly closely into the sinister associations of potential inductees.
Take Nidal Malik Hasan, for example.
It turns out that he attended the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Great Falls, Virginia, presided over by none other than Anwar al-Awlaki, author of 44 Ways to Support Jihad and spiritual advisor to 9/11 hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi.
Anwar al-Awlaki, currently a resident of Yemen, has since endorsed his former congregant’s actions in a posting titled Nidal Hasan Did the Right Thing.
The army was even warned about Hasan’s views by fellow doctors.
A fellow Army doctor who studied with Hasan, Val Finell, told ABC News, “We would frequently say he was a Muslim first and an American second. And that came out in just about everything he did at the University.
Finell said he and other Army doctors complained to superiors about Hasan’s statements.
“And we questioned how somebody could take an oath of officeâ€¦be an officer in the military and swear allegiance to the constitution and to defend America against all enemies, foreign and domestic and have that type of conflict,” Finell told ABC News.
US Intelligence services were monitoring Hasan’s attempts to communicate with al Qaeda.
U.S. intelligence agencies were aware months ago that Army Major Nidal Hasan was attempting to make contact with people associated with al Qaeda, two American officials briefed on classified material in the case told ABC News.
Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan tried to make contact with people linked to al Qaeda.
It is not known whether the intelligence agencies informed the Army that one of its officers was seeking to connect with suspected al Qaeda figures, the officials said.
During WWII, the issue of potential conflicting loyalties on the part of Japanese-Americans was taken very seriously. Japanese served in segregated units and were deliberately deployed only in the European theater. Today, the principal focus of concern is completely different.
Army Chief of Staff General George Casey has ordered his officers to be on the lookout to prevent “a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers.â€ â€œIt would be a shame,” the general said, “As great a tragedy as this was â€” it would be a shame if our diversity became a casualty as well.â€
Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano is working to prevent “a wave of anti-Muslim sentiment.”