Last night, the popular blog Gawker and a few other sources reported that Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, participated in advising the White House on the transition via a George Washington University think tank on homeland security.
It turns out, it was all wrong. Last night, I spoke with Frank Cilluffo, the director of G.W.'s Homeland Security Policy Institute and a Foreign Policy contributor, who explained the errors.
The Institute had authored an advisory paper -- not because the White House commissioned it, but because that's what think tanks do.
How was Hasan "affiliated"? Cilluffo notes that G.W. lists everyone who RSVPs to Institute events in the meeting booklets (common practice in D.C. think tanks). Hasan was just a member of the public who attended a HSPI event. He never had any affiliation at all.
Cilluffo remembered calling on Hasan during a Q&A session. The Institute director recalled cutting Hasan off when he wouldn't stop talking, and recognized him when the television started broadcasting his picture yesterday. But, that was it. They have no relationship; the think tank has no relationship with Hasan.
Gawker has since corrected its post, which is good to see; other blogs (see Spencer Ackerman, for one) have debunked the rumor. But the lie peppered the Internet last night, and continues to today. The media and the public, of course, want answers about this senseless crime. I hope the media waits until it really has them to publish.