February 19, 2010

Fort Jackson Five update

Twenty-four hours after this story first broke and we're starting to get a better picture of exactly what happened two months ago at the Army base in Fort Jackson, SC. Erick Stakelbeck has an update on the story:

This morning, I spoke to Army CID spokesman Christopher Gray and learned more details about a possible poisoning plot that I first reported here yesterday after CBN confirmed with Patrick Jones of Fort Jackson's Public Affairs Office and a reliable source with intimate knowledge of the investigation. Here is the latest on what we do know.

According to Gray, the Army is investigating allegations that a group of soldiers from the 09 Lima program (more on that later in this post) at Fort Jackson--which is based in South Carolina--had talked about poisoning food in the base's mess hall. The men were questioned about two months ago, around Christmas. Gray said that to protect the integrity of the investigation, he could not comment further. He stressed that the investigation is "open and continuing."

CBN News also spoke to a Department of Homeland Security official with knowledge of the investigation who wished to remain anonymous. The official confirmed that the investigation was ongoing and said that someone in the Lima 09 program overheard five Muslim colleagues talking about poisoning food at the base. The person then reported the men, who were brought in for questioning.

The DHS official stressed that after the terrorist massacre at Fort Hood, the Army is taking a zero tolerance policy towards any potential threatening statements and is now extremely sensitive about any allegations in that regard.

Rusty has his take on the matter up at Pajamas Media today.

The "nothing to see here, move along" crowd have tried to pick this story apart to claim its not credible. The first item they point to is that both the CBN and Fox News reports last night said that the five guys had been arrested, not just questioned. But in both cases, that's what the Army told them. It took a while for the Army to get its story straight.

The second complaint they make is that the Pentagon is saying that there is "no credible information to support the allegations", which people have taken to mean that there is nothing to the story. But in fact, if you read the Associated Press report this morning, what there was "no credible information" was that they had not actually attempted to poison the food. There had only been some kind of discussions or communications about it, which someone had overheard and reported and which the Army spokesperson said they are taking seriously.

What isn't in dispute, and which all the reports appear to confirm, is that two months after the fact the investigation is still open and ongoing. [UPDATE: CBS is reporting that three of the five have been cleared, but two are still under investigation, making our point again. Report at Breitbart.] Seems to be more here than your standard assclown standing in line at the airport joking about bombing the plane. And except for the initial reports that the guys had been arrested, which is the official statement that both CBN and Fox initially received from the military, the story is holding up. No doubt we'll learn more in the days ahead.

The upside of this story is that the Army acted swiftly when the allegations were reported and appears to be taking a zero tolerance policy on this kind of stuff. That is a very welcome change after the Ft Hood massacre. But as we noted last night, the open question is why this information has taken two months to get out. If these guys had been neo-Nazis or evangelical Christians, the media would have been all over from the very start. When the investigation first opened, the Pentagon was still working on the Ft Hood report and would have seriously undercut their "see no Islam" approach. And after the murder of two US soldiers in Afghanistan last month by an interpreter, the information about the Ft Jackson incident would have raised even greater concerns about the integrity of the DOD's interpreter program at a time that the Pentagon and White House would not have wanted more scrutiny.

So until all the facts are known, a caution about making more out of this than what is known is certainly reasonable. But to dismiss the whole thing out-of-hand and claim that there is nothing to see here flies in the face of the fact that two months after this incident, there is still an open investigation. Bravo to CBN and Fox for making this investigation public and let's see what investigators actually turn up in this case.

By Barbarossa at 09:25 PM | Comments |