We agree with Army officials that an investigation into the case of Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin was merited. At the same time we wonder whether the Pentagon has considered the clear inconsistency in its treatment of Lakin, compared to that of another officer last year.
Lakin is being investigated for two reasons: First, he refused to report for duty in Afghanistan, as ordered. Second, he used the YouTube video sharing Web site to question whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States.
Again, an investigation is appropriate. The military simply cannot tolerate troops who refuse to follow orders.
But last year, it appears no serious thought was given to taking action against another officer, Maj. Nidal Hasan, when far more troubling concerns were raised about him. Hasan actively questioned U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. He corresponded with an Islamic terrorist leader regarding violence against other American soldiers. Concerns about whether he posed a threat were virtually ignored.
On Nov. 9, Hasan opened fire at Fort Hood, Texas, killing 13 people.
Lakin has been transferred from his regular job at a clinic in the Pentagon, to another post while the investigation proceeds. No such action was taken against Hasan.
Again, it appears that an investigation into Lakin is merited. But clearly, the Army should have had much more cause for concern about Hasan.
Perhaps the Hasan situation prompted the Army to take a closer look at anyone whose stability is in question. We certainly hope that is the explanation for the Lakin investigation.