Details were revealed last Thursday in a long-awaited report that looked into the FBI’s actions in the months before Maj. Nidal Hasan was accused of opening fire on Fort Hood soldiers on Nov. 5, 2009, killing 13 and wounding dozens.
The findings, released by former CIA and FBI Director William Webster after two years of research, and a separate one conducted by a Homeland Security Senate committee, clearly show that the November 2009 shooting could have been prevented. Investigators had already connected many of the dots relating to Maj. Hasan, but “political sensitivity” or outright political correctness in the U.S. Army gave him a hands-off approach.
The Webster report also shows there was a clear line between the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in San Diego, which was leading the investigation of Anwar Al-Awlaki, who was an imam in San Diego at the time of 9/11 and had contact with the hijackers there, and the Washington field office.
Seven months before the shooting took place, a San Diego agent whose job it was to track Al-Awlaki came across e-mail communications between the radical clerical and Maj. Hasan showing the Army psychiatrist express his support for suicide bombings and killing civilians, while al-Awlaki encouraged Hasan to stay in touch, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, told The Associated Press after he was briefed on the findings of a new review of the attack.
In one of Hasan’s emails to al-Awlaki, he was asking the American-born cleric his thoughts on American Muslim soldiers killing their non-Muslim counterparts, among other things.
“Would you consider them shaheeds (martyrs)?” Maj. Nidal Hasan asked in an intercepted email.
Sufficiently alarmed, the San Diego agent asked his colleagues in Washington, where Hasan was then stationed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, to talk to and investigate the army officer.
The FBI in Washington’s response was, basically, that “we don’t investigate every Muslim guy who visits extremist websites” and that pursuing Hasan, a Muslim Army officer, would be “politically sensitive.”
There also seems to have been a turf war between the two offices, according to the Webster report. Washington’s response was a clear hand-slap to investigators to not be aggressive in targeting Muslims as potential terrorists, even when there was clear evidence that further investigation was necessary.
The FBI in Washington then made the decision to not interview Maj. Hasan because they were worried about damaging his future career prospects in the military.
“In the army, you can lose your security clearance for having bad credit, but you cannot lose your security clearance for e-mailing a known terrorist,” one soldier who was shot during the terrorist attack at Fort Hood told Fox News.
So tepid was the Washington response to Hasan’s communications with al-Awlaki that agents in San Diego thought Hasan might be a confidential informant the FBI was trying to protect.
“It shows you the length of the political correctness stuff going on,” McCaul said after he was briefed on the findings of the independent review Wednesday.
To add further insult, instead of recognizing the Fort Hood shooting as a terrorist attack, the Obama administration categorized it as “work place violence” effectively denying soldiers who lost their lives that day the military medals they are due for their heroic service — specifically the Purple Heart.
Hasan, charged with killing 13 people and wounding 32 others in the November 2009 shooting rampage, faces the death penalty in a court-martial scheduled to begin at Fort Hood on Aug. 20.
Sen. Joe Lieberman said the Webster Report confirms many of the findings of his committee’s earlier review.
He said he is pleased “for the first time the report declassifies the communications between Hasan and Anwar al-Awlaki so that all Ameriicans, especially the families of the victims, can understand Hasan’s radicalization and the full scale of the tragedy for which he is responsible.”
Lieberman added, “We are concerned that the report fails to address the specific cause for the Fort Hood attack, which is violent Islamist extremism”