Warning signs missed in Fort Hood killings

WASHINGTON Thu Feb 3, 2011 3:41pm EST

Major Nidal Malik Hasan in an undated photo. REUTERS/Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Major Nidal Malik Hasan in an undated photo.

Credit: Reuters/Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Federal authorities ignored warnings that could have prevented a 2009 massacre at an Army base, two U.S. senators said in a report on Thursday that outlined intelligence failures similar to those in the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Major Nidal Malik Hasan -- an Army psychiatrist who had been dubbed by two colleagues as "a ticking time bomb" -- was charged with murder in the shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas that killed 13 and wounded 32.

Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, and Susan Collins, the panel's top Republican, said in the probe that authorities had information indicating that Hasan, a Muslim born in the United States to immigrant parents, was a threat before the November 5, 2009, shootings.

"Although neither DoD (the Department of Defense) nor the FBI had specific information concerning the time, place or nature of the attack, they collectively had sufficient information to have detected Hasan's radicalization to violent Islamist extremism but failed both to understand and to act on it," they wrote.

The Army has received an assessment from experts on Hasan's mental health and is considering whether he should face court martial and potentially the death penalty.

Intelligence agencies learned that Hasan had contacts with an Islamist sympathetic to al Qaeda and relayed the information to law enforcement, but no action was taken, the report noted.

The report identified the Islamist only as "Suspected Terrorist" and several portions of the report were redacted.

U.S. officials have said Hasan had exchanged e-mails with Anwar al-Awlaki, an al Qaeda figure based in Yemen.


The report said evidence of Hasan's "radicalization to violent Islamist extremism" was on display to his colleagues during his military medical training and he was referred to as a "ticking time bomb" by two of them.

"Not only was no action taken to discharge him, but also his Officer Evaluation Reports sanitized his obsession with violent Islamist extremism into praiseworthy research on counterterrorism," the report said.

The senators' investigation found specific and systemic failures in the government's handling of the case, and they recommended a number of corrective steps.

The FBI, in a statement, said it "recognizes the value of congressional oversight and agrees with much in the report and many of its recommendations."

The senators said their investigation shows that despite improvements over the past decade, U.S. authorities still need to do a better in sharing and acting on information regarding possible terrorists.

"A lot of progress has been made in connecting the dots," Lieberman, an independent, told a Capitol Hill news conference. "But this case, the Hasan case, shows the work is unfinished."

Intelligence failures were blamed, in part, for the September 11 hijacked plane attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.

Investigations uncovered a number of instances when U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies inadequately shared information.

In the wake of the September 11 attacks, a crush of federal actions were taken to better track suspected terrorists, including creation of the Department of Homeland Security.

(Additional reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky; Editing by Deborah Charles and Cynthia Osterman)

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Comments (3)
This is a frightening conclusion because it could lead to harassment for anyone who is different. “Warning signs” are always obvious in retrospect. The problem is that “warning signs” are not legally or officially defined, and exhibiting “warning signs” is not illegal. So it would be harassment for an employer to take action based upon legal behaviors that someone believes warns of some impending crime. Employers are simply not liable for the actions of a lunatic employee. It would be a really frightening situation to be fired for just seeming different, weird, or religious because a supervisor believes it is “warning sign” that you will go on a murderous rampage. Half the homeless people I see exhibit “warning signs” that they are going to do something violent, but we cannot lock them up as a precaution.

There are 300 millions people in this country. If only one in fifteen million people are murderous lunatics and will inevitably go nuts between the ages of 15 and 55, then that works out to one rampage every six months. Which is basically what we’ve seen for the past several years. We don’t need new scary laws every time this happens. We could outlaw guns and all wear GPS trackers and it would simply not prevent the total lunatics from periodically rampaging. We should focus on the preventable causes of death, such as car accidents, gang murders, and obesity, which dwarf the murderous rampages in magnitude.

Feb 03, 2011 1:34pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Well, at least they stopped Cat Stevens! The system works!

If the system is meant to shut down our own freedoms while instigating more terrorism.

And now, the moronic conservative response . . .

Feb 03, 2011 1:48pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Lemmy wrote:
No body missed anything, they just turned a blind eye.

Feb 03, 2011 1:48pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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