FBI orders independent review after Fort Hood shooting
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - FBI Director Robert Mueller ordered an independent review on Tuesday of how the agency handled information that the military psychiatrist charged in the Fort Hood shooting had communicated with an anti-American cleric in Yemen.
Mueller asked William Webster, the former head of the FBI and CIA as well as a former judge, to conduct the review of the domestic law enforcement agency's actions and policies before the November 5 shooting that killed 13 people.
Questions have been raised about the handling of e-mails the accused shooter, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, sent to the cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, who has been sympathetic to al Qaeda. They were intercepted by U.S. intelligence agencies and examined by U.S. joint terrorism task forces.
Investigators said last month that Hasan's correspondence, which began in late 2008, was reviewed but did not merit a full investigation because it appeared to be largely consistent with his academic work and offered no hints that he was planning an attack or was following orders from anyone.
The review could be another potential embarrassment for the FBI which, along with U.S. intelligence agencies, took heavy criticism for failing to detect and thwart the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.
"Judge Webster is uniquely qualified to undertake this task and look at the procedures and actions involved in this matter," Mueller said in a statement. "It is essential to determine whether there are improvements to our current practices or other authorities that could make us all safer in the future."
The Defense Department has announced its own review of the November 5 shooting on the Texas base where soldiers were preparing to deploy to Afghanistan. Hasan has been charged with 13 counts of murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.
The FBI said that Webster will coordinate his review with the Defense Department. No timeline was given for Webster's review.
President Barack Obama has said he would accountable those who missed warning signs about Hasan and he was given an initial report about how U.S. intelligence agencies handled information about Hasan last week.
Hasan, a U.S.-born Muslim of Palestinian descent, was paralyzed by gunshots used to subdue him and he is being held at a military hospital in Texas. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
(Editing by Doina Chiacu)
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