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Fort Hood killings and the red flags for violence

The Pentagon can learn from post-Columbine schools and from gang-ridden cities how to see warning signs for would-be killers.

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The Fort Hood massacre has opened a nationwide debate over the motives of the shooting suspect, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. Was he traumatized by tales of wounded soldiers? Was he a Muslim fanatic? Or was he simply a disgruntled employee who went "postal"?

By determining motives for the killings, the military might be better able to train its people to discern the red flags for similar homicidal behavior among soldiers.

Should Hasan's gun purchases have been noticed? Could his e-mails and Web readings on Islam been better detected? What else might have connected the dots?

Even Congress may act to push the Pentagon to improve its ability to detect potentially dangerous individuals. Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut independent who chairs a Senate panel on homeland security, plans to investigate how the Army "missed the warning signs."

Before the Pentagon moves too quickly, however, it needs to learn lessons from US schools, which have made big changes since the 1999 Columbine killings and the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre in preventing child-on-child violence. And it can also learn from US cities on successful ways to prevent youth killings.

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