The more we learn about Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the thinner the line stretches between ideology and mental illness, and the more troubling is the question of why, surrounded by psychiatrists, his potential for violence was not sufficiently recognized to remove him from his position as a healer of trauma victims.
Today brings a report that "military superiors repeatedly ignored or rebuffed his efforts to open criminal prosecutions of soldiers he claimed had confessed to 'war crimes' during psychiatric counseling," an unmistakable sign, if true, of Hasan's own disturbance, an eagerness to breach doctor-patient confidentiality to serve his own pathology.
“If there was a failure to take appropriate action before the shootings, there must be accountability,” President Obama has said, and there is increasing evidence that Hasan's erratic behavior was noted and then disregarded as far back as his service at Walter Reed Hospital.
A psychiatrist who worked with him there gave this account to a reporter: "From the beginning--and Hasan was there for four years--the medical staff was very worried about this guy...He did not do a good job as a psychiatrist in training, was repeatedly warned, you better shape up, or, you know, you're going to be in trouble. Did badly in his classes, seemed disinterested...
"(H)e was very proud and upfront about being Muslim...and nobody minded that. But he seemed almost belligerent about being Muslim, and he gave a lecture one day that really freaked a lot of doctors out."
The picture that is emerging of Nidal Malik Hasan is that of a deeply troubled, sexually repressed loner who was seen frequenting a local strip club for $50 lap dances rather than an Islamic martyr hoping to be rewarded with 72 virgins for his actions.
Why didn't the mental-health experts all around him do something about it?