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Crime & Punishment

Did Faith Play A Role In The Ft. Hood Shootings?

The Muslim Community Center, a mosque once attended by Army Maj. Nidal M. Hasan, is seen in Silver Spring, Md. Hasan is suspected to have shot and killed at least 12 people at Ft. Hood, Texas on Thursday. Jacquelyn Martin/AP hide caption

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Jacquelyn Martin/AP

We are sorry we didn't get to BackTalk, our letters segment, again today. A last minute interview came through that we really thought added value.

We were able to track down James Yee, the former Muslim chaplain at Guantanamo for his take on last week's deadly shooting at Ft. Hood. Yee is attending a conference in India and we were interested in his views about what happened, and how religion may or may not play into it all. Obviously, there's been some conversation about whether Army Maj. Nidal Hasan's (the suspected shooter) religious identity played a role in what happened. We also heard from a former National Guard medic and a former Marine, both Muslim-Americans, who had a different perspective than Yee.

Why are we focusing on Hasan's Muslim identity, as opposed to his psychiatric background or his identity as a suburbanite? ... As a man? A single man?

Those are legitimate questions.

Let me tell you where we're coming from on this. We feel there are other people who are already addressing some of these stories. The New York Times, for example, had a very interesting piece over the weekend about military psychiatrists.

And it's no secret, if you listen to the program, that we're interested in the way life is lived right now. We're interested in identity, we're interested in how people see themselves within the context of the changing American story. That's part of our mission and I, personally, was very interested to hear three different perspectives from three different service members about how that particular part of their identity played out for them.

I know that some have no patience for these kinds of stories and discussions, and I understand that. But please know that some people have no interest in sports or science, or cars or any number of other things that NPR produces programs about.

This is some people's story. And I, for one, am very interested.

Also: Some of you were nice enough to send us some questions for Obama for America campaign manager David Plouffe who was with us Friday to talk about his new book, The Audacity to Win. We did not get to most of them — mainly about some of the issues Obama is facing now. But I just wanted to let people know that we really appreciated them but we wound up reconfiguring the program because of the Ft. Hood shootings. We had planned a pretty long segment with Plouffe and because of the shooting we felt we had to cut down the time quite a bit. We also did not want to sacrifice coverage of the Native American tribal leaders meeting (an historic event that we just felt a responsibility to cover). ... Don't want you to think we didn't appreciate or value the time spent sending us your thoughts. Thanks again.