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Obama Fort Hood shooting review: need better tracking of "disaffected" individuals

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THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

_______________________________________________________________________________________

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 15, 2010


Public Summary of the Inventory of Files Related to Fort Hood Shooting


BACKGROUND


On November 5, 2009, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, U.S. Army, entered the Army Base at Fort Hood, TX, and opened fire on a group of fellow soldiers. Before he could be stopped by law enforcement officers, Hasan fatally shot 13 members of the U.S. Army and injured 32 others, most of them military personnel. Hasan has been charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) with 13 specifications of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. He is currently awaiting trial.


Following the tragic shooting at Fort Hood, on November 6, 2009, the President convened a meeting of his national security team to discuss what was known to the Government about this incident. During that meeting, upon learning what was known at the time about the shooting and the individual believed to be responsible, the President immediately directed an immediate inventory be conducted of all information in United States Government files that existed prior to November 5, 2009, relevant to the shooting and the alleged shooter, Major Nidal Malik Hasan. In addition, the President directed that a review be initiated to determine how any such information was handled, shared, and acted upon within and across departments and agencies. The relevant agencies and departments were directed to report their findings to the President by November 30. Following is a summary of what was learned as a result of this inquiry, as well as the recommendations for improvements going forward.

It is important to point out that this review is just one part of this story. Two additional reviews are being conducted to determine whether additional lessons can be learned as to how the U.S. Government can better protect the American people, including our brave men and women in uniform. First, the Secretary of Defense ordered an independent review of Department of Defense (DOD) policies and procedures to identify potential security threats within the military. The initial findings of that review, which was conducted by former Admiral Vernon Clark and former Army Secretary Togo West, were made public today, January 15, 2010. Second, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) asked Judge William Webster to conduct a broad review of the FBI's handling of information relative to Major Hasan, including looking at laws and policies that govern the FBI's actions.

In the days and weeks following the shooting, all agencies and departments of the United States Government conducted a thorough search of their files to determine whether they were in possession of information about the shooting by Major Hasan. The results of those searches were reported to the President on December 1 and have already been briefed to appropriate Members and Committees of Congress. Because of the sensitivity of the information, and the concern that disclosure could jeopardize the ongoing criminal investigation and prosecution by the military, some of the information uncovered during those searches cannot be shared publicly at this time.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS


In addition to gathering the facts, the President ordered this review to determine whether there are ways in which the U.S. Government could enhance its ability to protect the American people. We must always look critically at the events leading up to any tragic event like this in order to determine whether things should be done differently in the future. To that end, the departments and agencies involved in this review took a careful look to see whether systemic changes could enhance their ability to keep Americans safe from violent attacks. They have made several recommendations that have been endorsed by the President.


· Processes and Protocols: Though information sharing between agencies and departments has improved dramatically since September 2001, there is still room for improvement in certain areas. Communication protocols between DOD and the Department of Justice regarding disaffected individuals, in particular, need to be improved, and the policies governing information sharing and cooperation between the two departments on investigative matters require additional clarification and re-calibration.


· Intelligence and Law Enforcement Analysis: A more thorough and layered analysis of certain information available to intelligence and law enforcement personnel must be conducted, along with ensuring the appropriate allocation of resources to accomplish that goal.


· Information Technology: The United States Government must continue to enhance its information technology in order to better and more readily identify relevant data.


· Training: The Joint Terrorism Task Forces should improve their personnel training, including of detailees from other departments and agencies, to ensure that those assigned are both adequately equipped and fully aware of all available tools to perform the critical tasks they are called upon to complete.


This review was conducted on an accelerated timeline to identify issues of concern or potential vulnerabilities in our systems and to immediately take appropriate corrective measures. The preliminary report was provided to the President weeks ago, and several steps have already been taken to implement the specific recommendations. It is critical that we act quickly to put them into place to strengthen our ability to ensure the safety and security of the American people going forward, particularly those who serve in our Armed Forces. However, as we have no doubt learned through our experience, taking these steps does not allow us to claim that the work is done. This inventory and review, as well as the reviews taking place within DOD and the Intelligence Community, is part of an ongoing process to constantly evaluate and improve upon the tools and defenses we have in place to protect the American people against all forms of violence.


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2 Comments

The significance of Major Hasan's contacts with the imam in Yemen have not been clearly demonstrated. As we cannot classify this as organized terrorism, it certainly resembles "going postal" with unsurprisingly a cultural framework that should be examined but not declared to be causative.

The call to profile disaffected individuals may be understandable but clear, non politicized guidelines need to be in play. But how? It is not wrong or bad to be disaffected, especially given some of the injustices in the world. Going after the disaffected should not lead to targeting all dissenters. Many other factors besides culture or ideology may be

Law enforcement use force as well as violence at times. That role is granted to them by the people but if abused it will be contested and anti state militancy justified in people's minds. Therefore the authorities must be cautious. And prevention of attacks is not just a law enforcement role -- though lacking in resources granted to police and military, community leaders --including Muslims--have a crucial role to play.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on January 16, 2010 5:00 AM.

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