WASHINGTON, D.C. (KXAN) - The inability to rapidly share information, poorly trained FBI threat analysts, and the failure to exhaust all intelligence-sharing options led to the November 2009 terrorist attack at Fort Hood, according to testimony presented at a Homeland Security Oversight and Investigations hearing held Friday.
Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is soon to go to trial for the killing of 13 people and injury of 32 others.
The former director of the National Counterterrorism Center and the deputy chairman of the Webster Commission outlined the shortcomings at a hearing in Washington, D.C. They said it was these errors that allowed Hasan to slip through the cracks without a formal investigation.
"The legal landscape is a myriad of conflicting statutes and it is extremely difficult to know how information can be shared," testified former NCTC director Mike Leiter.
While he praised great improvements within the intelligence community and many success stories since 9/11, Leiter said "the pace at which (intelligence sharing) discussions occur borders on the biblical."
The NCTC classified the mass shooting as a terrorist attack one week after it took place.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Washington Field Office , which was warned of red flags, including email exchanges between Hasan and al Qaeda leader Anwar al Awlaki months prior to the shooting, elected not to launch an investigation into Hasan. Most of the 18 emails were not shared within the FBI.
The Webster Report concluded FBI Washington waited until its deadline, 90 days, to analyze evidence.
Leiter testified it was ultimately analyzed by "an officer who did not have a strong understanding of the signs of radicalization."
"There was no FBI policy on the assignment of these types of leads or taking action on these types of leads," testified Douglas Winters, deputy chairman of the Webster Commission, which conducted an independent investigation into the Fort Hood shooting.
Once the FBI's San Diego Field Office, which initiated the Washington inquiry, was told there would be no investigation, San Diego failed to pursue other avenues including directly warning the Department of Defense of a possible threat.
"They have DOD employees on these (FBI) task forces. Why didn't one of those at least contact Fort Hood?" Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, asked the witnesses. "Why didn't anybody contact Fort Hood and say, 'You know what, there's an issue here. You've got a problem. There's a guy that could actually kill somebody.' And I don't think any of you really have the answer to that. I don't know the answer to that."
The Webster Report outlined several missed opportunities by the Army to report Hassan as a threat, even though he was described by fellow soldiers as a "ticking time bomb."
Professor Irshad Manji, director of the Moral Courage Project at New York University and a self-proclaimed reformist Muslim, testified she is skeptical as to why neither the Army nor the FBI was willing to report Hassan and share information.
"I think it would be fair to ask if political correctness also crept into the FBI. Why did the San Diego officer not stand up when it became clear to him or her that an obviously unsettling lead was not going to be acted upon?" Manji asked.
Hasan court martial
Meanwhile, efforts to begin the Army court martial trial have been stalled for weeks while the court and attorneys jockey about the issue of Hasan now sporting a beard, which is against Army regulations. His trial was to begin on Aug. 20, and the jury selection process was under way.
A ruling on Sept. 6 by trial judge Col. Gregory Gross said Hasan must be clean-shaven for the trial or he is to be forcibly shaved.
Hasan claimed his beard was grown because of his Islamic religious beliefs. In his ruling, Gross said that his attorneys failed to prove that was the case.
Hasan abided by Army regulations while on active duty and was clean-shaven when he allegedly went on the murderous rampage at Fort Hood.
Pfc. Naser Abdo
Since that time, another soldier, Army Pfc. Naser Abdo, 22, who was absent without leave from a post in Kentucky, was making plans to carry out another shooting, claiming he wanted to duplicate what Hasan had done.
However, Abdo was caught in July 2011 before he had a chance to do any harm when an astute gun shop employee in Killeen alerted law enforcement to purchases Abdo was making.
In a recorded police interview, Abdo said he wanted to carry out the attack "because I don't appreciate what my unit did in Afghanistan." He intended to place a bomb in a busy restaurant filled with soldiers, wait outside and shoot anyone who survived — and become a martyr after police killed him.
Abdo pleaded guilty on six counts in August and was sentenced to life in prison. He acted as his own attorney in the case.
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