Well, if you were wondering what paranoiac smear artist would be the first to step out and attempt to name President Barack Obama as the man who guided Nidal Malik Hasan to his murderous rampage at Fort Hood yesterday, the answer -- naturally! -- is Jerome Corsi. Corsi has a long history of lunatic, fact-averse ravings and he fails to disappoint on that regard on the pages of World Net Daily, today, in a piece entitled "Shooter advised Obama transition." Except, of course, he didn't do any such thing.
Corsi hangs his entire allegation on a document produced on May 19, 2009 by The George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute entitled "Thinking Anew, Security Priorities For The Next Administration." In that document, Nidal Hasan is listed, on page 29, as a "Task Force Event Participant." He was one of hundreds of people listed as a "participant." Significantly, Nidal was not the author of the document. He was not a member of the HSPI's "Presidential Transition Task Force." Nor was he a member of the HSPI's "Task Force Staff." He was not a member of the HSPI's Steering Committee or a briefer to the task force.
Also, the activities of the HSPI here do not in anyway constitute official transition advice to the White House, despite the fact that a committee got named the "Presidential Transition Task Force" and the HSPI's activities involved identifying homeland security priorities and offering advice. Here is what the HSPI does:
Founded in 2003, The George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute (HSPI) is a nonpartisan "think and do" tank whose mission is to build bridges between theory and practice to advance homeland security through an interdisciplinary approach. By convening domestic and international policymakers and practitioners at all levels of government, the private and non-profit sectors, and academia, HSPI creates innovative strategies and solutions to current and future threats to the nation.
The task force gave itself the following mission: "to further policy discussions of the top strategic priorities in the area of security in order to generate actionable recommendations, for the Administration taking office in January 2009, designed to effectively meet the most vexing challenges the United States faces today."
Essentially, what the HSPI did (and all of this is spelled out explicitly in this document's executive summary) is convene a giant group of security wonks and academics, heard some briefings, made some "internal deliberations," and generated a set of priorities and recommendations. Then those recommendations got published, and maybe someone at the White House read them, but it's more likely that the content ended up as material to cite in the middle of further security-wonk discussions.
And at some point in the process, Nidal Hasan might have sat in a room while this was happening, with a few hundred other people.
But none of this constitutes formal advice given to the president on homeland security during the transition of power. This was a university panel that has sod all to do with the White House, generating ideas, and calling it "advice" for the president. If two or three of you wanted to meet up with me at the Au Bon Pain on Pennsylvania Avenue this afternoon and chat today, we will have accomplished basically the same thing.
Corsi, in fact, knows this. He writes:
While the GWU task force participants included several members of government, including representatives of the Department of Justice and the U.S Department of Homeland Security, there is no indication in the document that the group played any formal role in the official Obama transition, other than to serve in a university-based advisory capacity.
In short, the facts Corsi obtained torpedo the premise of his piece, which, I remind you, is that the "shooter advised [the] Obama transition." Were this being written for a responsible journalistic entity, some creature called an "editor" would have stepped in and said, "Hey, Jerome, you realize that by your own findings, you article is complete horseshit, right?" But this is World Net Daily, written by and for complete charlatans.
UPDATE: I contacted Frank Cilluffo, the director of the HSPI at George Washington University, who tells me that Nidal Hasan has no affiliation with the HSPI or with George Washington University, at all. "[Hasan] has no role on the task force, other than the fact that he attended these meetings as an audience member, as did hundreds of others." Hasan's name appears on the list of participants only because he provided the HSPI with an RSVP, indicating his attendance. Cilluffo told me, "We always record RSVPs and publish them as a matter of transparency, and will continue to do so."
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