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Entries in Ft. Hood (5)

Friday
May242013

DOD: Ft. Hood Massacre Likely 'Criminal Act of Single Individual,' Not International Terror

U.S. Government Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences via Getty Images(FORT HOOD, Texas) -- More than three years since a deadly domestic assault on American troops -- the 2009 Fort Hood massacre that claimed 13 lives, including that of a pregnant soldier -- a top Army attorney maintains that incident was likely a "criminal act of a single individual."

"...[T]he available evidence in this case does not, at this time, support a finding that the shooting at Fort Hood was an act of international terrorism," Lt. Gen. Dana Chipman said this week in a letter to Rep. Thomas Rooney (R-Fla.) on behalf of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

The letter, obtained by ABC News, was apparently written in response to an inquiry from Rooney, Rep. Chaka Fatta (D-Penn.), and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Virg.) sent to Hagel on May 6, which questioned whether concerns of "political correctness" informed the Army's decision to refer to the Fort Hood attack as an act of "workplace violence." Victims of the shooting have long maintained that calling the attack "workplace violence" instead of "combat related" or an act of terrorism has had a massive impact on the benefits and treatment they've received.

In the Fort Hood attack, Maj. Nidal Hasan stands accused of gunning down 13 soldiers and injuring 32 others in November 2009. After the assault, investigators uncovered evidence that Hasan was in communication with al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki prior to the attack. Al-Awlaki was apparently such a threat that he has been the only American citizen ever targeted for a drone strike -- though three others have been collateral damage, according to President Obama.

Witnesses reportedly said Hasan shouted "Allahu Akbar," "God is Great" in Arabic, amid the chaos.

As reflected in Chipman's letter, the Department of Defense has consistently said that in addition to a supposed lack of evidence, it would be irresponsible to call the Fort Hood attack "terrorism" because it "may have a negative impact on the ongoing judicial process" for Hasan.

The letter also denied that the Defense Department had made a decision to classify the attack as "workplace violence" and said, "[N]o benefit has been denied to any of the victims based on any such classification" -- two claims to which the survivors object stringently.

Kimberly Munley, a police officer who was hailed as a hero for her role in stopping the alleged Fort Hood shooter, told ABC News Chipman's letter is "disgraceful" and "another direct slap in the face." Attorneys for Munley and most of the other Fort Hood victims called the letter's claims "counterfactual" and an "insult."

An attorney for several of the victims, Reed Rubinstein, said the Army's new letter is "worse than word games."

"The 'workplace violence' classification has been out there for years, and [the Army] has never walked it back," he said.

In 2010, part of then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' response to the shooting was to "strengthen [the department's] policies, programs and procedures in... workplace violence." In October 2011, the Defense Department said it was reviewing the attack "in the context of a broader threat of workplace violence."

Rubinstein and his partner, Neil Sher, also said calling the attack "an alleged criminal act by a single individual" "rewrites history, consigning the government's admissions of Hasan's al-Qaeda ties… down a bureaucratic memory hole."

Munley said, "It is clear that the Army and the government will continue to not take responsibility for allowing a known terrorist to slip through the ranks while having multiple associations with the now-deceased Anwar al-Awlaki and has complete disregard for those injured on that horrifying day."

In Chipman's letter, she said the Army is willing to reconsider their classification of the event should "new, relevant evidence" arise.

"The Army's decision, in no way, diminishes the common goal of ensuring the victims are treated and cared for promptly and compassionately," the letter says. "Although we cannot undo the outcome of that day, taking care of those affected by the Fort Hood shooting... remains one of the Army's top priorities."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug012012

Ft. Hood Shooter Should Have Been Interviewed, FBI Official Says

U.S. Government Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A top FBI official testified Wednesday that Ft. Hood shooter Army Major Nidal Hasan should have been interviewed by FBI and Defense Department investigators before the deadly shooting, based on reports from a field office about the major’s activities.

Dressed in traditional Islamic garb, Hasan entered a facility filled with unarmed U.S. service members on November 5, 2009, reportedly screaming "Allahu Akbar" -- "God Is Great" in Arabic -- as he opened fire with a pair of pistols. He killed 13 people, including a pregnant soldier, and wounded dozens more before security personnel shot Hasan, rendering him paralyzed.

FBI Executive Assistant Director Mark Giuliano appeared before the House Appropriations Committee to testify about an investigative report by former FBI Director William Webster over how the FBI handled intelligence information and communications between Maj. Hasan and Anwar al Alawki, the now deceased American-Yemeni cleric who played an operational planning role for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

“It’s easy to go back and second guess. I believe an interview would have been prudent in this case,” Giuliano told Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., chairman of the Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee.

“I am concerned that there were warning signs, and that with more aggressive investigation, there is a chance that this incident could have been prevented.  I am further concerned that the reason for less-aggressive investigation may have been political sensitivities in the Washington Field Office, and maybe even the FBI’s own investigating guidelines,” Wolf said in his opening statement at the hearing.

The Webster report found shortcomings with FBI policies, technology and training in how FBI agents handled a review into Maj. Hasan before the Ft. Hood terror attack, which killed 13 and left 42 wounded.

Also revealed in Webster’s report were concerns from FBI Agents on the San Diego Joint Terrorism Task Force who were investigating Awlaki who passed leads onto the FBI Washington Field Office (WFO) about Hasan’s communications with the terrorist.

A task force agent wrote that, "… WFO doesn’t go out and interview every Muslim guy who visits extremist websites."  The report cited a paraphrased email from a Washington Field Office Agent to San Diego.

“Besides, this guy has a legitimate work related reasons to be going to these sites and engaging these extremists in dialogue. WFO did not assess this guy as a terrorism threat.” The email cited in the report noted about Maj. Hasan who was conducting research on Islamic beliefs and military service at Walter Reed Medical Center.

FBI agents in Washington only conducted a cursory records check of Maj. Hasan and saw that he had recently been promoted and that officials at Walter Reed believed his research was significant. The agents also believed that tipping off Hasan may have jeopardized the investigation into Awlaki.

Webster’s review also noted that agents in San Diego recalled that someone in the Washington Field Office noted that the inquiry into Hasan was “politically sensitive for WFO.”

“I personally do not believe political correctness had anything to do with this determination,” Giuliano testified before the committee.  ”I don’t believe political correctness -- nor does the report believe political correctness was the reason for that.”

Critics have claimed just the opposite, that Hasan's growing Islamic extremism wasn't a secret with his colleagues, but nobody was willing to report him for fear of appearing biased. Hasan made no secret of where his loyaties ultimately lay. His business cards made no mention of his military affiliation, but underneath his name he listed himself as SoA (SWT). SoA is commonly used on jihadist Web sites as the acronym for "Soldier of Allah" while "SWT" is commonly used to stand for "Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala," or "Glory to God."

“This was a judgment call. And unfortunately we make these judgment calls every single day, and we have to be right every single time,” Giuliano told the committee.  "As you look through it, an interview would have been prudent in this time. It’s hard to tell whether it would have changed things.”

Webster’s review ultimately concluded that no one was responsible for mistakes in how the Hasan case was handled, writing to FBI Director Robert Mueller: “We do not find, and do not believe, that anyone is solely responsible for mistakes in handling the information. We do not believe it would be fair to hold these dedicated personnel, who work in a context of constant threats and limited resources, responsible for the tragedy that occurred months later at Fort Hood.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun232011

Former Prisoners Planned Ft. Hood Style Assault, Feds Allege

info.lewis-mcchord.army.mil(SEATTLE) -- Two men who converted to Islam in prison have been arrested and charged by federal authorities with plotting a Ft. Hood-style assault on a Seattle military installation.

Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, born Joseph Anthony Davis, and Walli Mujahidh, born Frederick Domingue Jr., are accused of planning to attack the Military Entrance Processing Station in Seattle with grenades and machine guns. Abdul-Latif, 33, and Mujahidh, 32, allegedly purchased machine guns from undercover agents to use in the assault. Their alleged objective was to deter further American military action in Islamic countries.

The defendants allegedly planned to attack Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a sprawling Army and Air Force installation south of Seattle that houses almost 20,000 military personnel and family members, but then changed targets. The Military Entrance Processing Station on East Marginal Way in Seattle is where enlistees report.

According to officials, both men were monitored and their weapons rendered inoperable so that they posed no danger to the public.

"The complaint alleges these men intended to carry out a deadly attack against our military here at home. The Seattle building targeted is shared by civilians and a day care," said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. "This is a sobering reminder of our need to be vigilant and that our first line of defense is the people who live in our community. We were able to disrupt the plot because a citizen stepped forward and reported it to authorities. I commend the joint efforts of the FBI, the Seattle Police Department, the Joint Terrorism Task Force who quickly recognized the seriousness of the threat and ensured the safety of the community."

According to officials, Abdul-Latif, of Seattle, and Mujahidh, of Los Angeles, met while in prison for earlier offenses. Both converted to Islam while incarcerated.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb042011

Senators Say FBI & DOD Could Have Prevented Ft. Hood Shooting

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) - The FBI and Department of Defense Thursday reacted to a new Senate report that blames the two departments for failing to recognize or act on the extremist views of the 2009 Fort Hood shooter, Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan.

The report, from Senate Homeland Security Committee chairman Joe Lieberman and ranking Republican Susan Collins, says the FBI and DOD could have prevented the shooting if they had identified Hasan’s radical Islamist views and disciplined or discharged him before the attack occurred.

"Our report’s painful conclusion is that the Fort Hood massacre could have and should have been prevented," Lieberman said at a press conference.

"The Fort Hood massacre resulted because of what I would call a tragedy of errors – just one after another - by organizations that normally perform effectively. But in this case – for a host of various reasons and frankly some things that are hard to explain – just totally failed to act in a way that as you look back at the evidence with the clarity of hindsight just shouts out, ‘Stop this guy before he kills somebody!’ And he was not stopped," Lieberman said.

Both the FBI and the Department of Defense reacted to the report and pledged continued efforts to mitigate such threats in the future.

"We appreciate the committee's efforts to examine circumstances surrounding the Fort Hood shooting incident," the DOD said in a statement. "The Department places a high priority on implementing recommendations that will strengthen policies, programs and procedures that contribute to the safety and health of our military forces."

Among new prevention and education policies at the DOD include educating personnel of potentially destructive behavioral indicators and new, more accessible personnel records.

The FBI said it has already undertaken improvements that came as a result of an internal investigation immediately following the incident, but will adopt those changes recommended by the report that they deem appropriate.

"While concluding that the FBI’s transformation to an intelligence-driven organization remains a work in progress, the report recognizes the FBI’s substantial progress and many successes, led by Joint Terrorism Task Forces, in disrupting terrorist plots by homegrown extremists," the FBI said in a statement.

The November 2009 shooting killed 13 people and wounded 32 others.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct072010

National Counterterror Director Says Complaints Over Spying Declining Since Ft. Hood

Photo Courtesy - NCTC(WASHINGTON) -- The director of the National Counterterrorism Center expressed frustration Wednesday with critics of domestic spying and said that after recent violent incidents questions about government intrusiveness had turned into complaints that the government wasn't doing enough spying.

"In the months before Ft. Hood I was advocating for the extension of some aspects of the Patriot Act, and I think for very good reasons people have some concerns," said NCTC Director Michael Leiter. "I got a lot of, 'Why should we allow you to keep spying on Americans?"' Leiter was referring to the November 2009 attack at Fort Hood in Texas, which killed 13 people.

"Several weeks later in the wake of Ft. Hood," said Leiter, "I was back on [Capitol] Hill. I tell you a whole lot of fewer people were complaining about me spying on Americans and a whole lot more people were complaining that I wasn't spying enough. It's a tough line to walk." Leiter also said attitudes about terror watch lists had changed after alleged "underwear bomber" Umar Abdulmutallab, who was not placed on a watch list, was allowed to board Northwest flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit last Christmas. Abdulmutallab is charged with attempting to detonate a bomb on the plane.

Leiter and other top U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials discussed the balance between security and civil liberties at a conference Wednesday hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said he didn't believe there was "an inherent tension between protecting national security and preserving civil liberties....Yes, we have a right to privacy. But we also have a right to ride the subways without the threat of bombings. It is not a question of conflict; it is a question of balance."

Mueller said wiretap laws and phone and Internet providers have not kept pace with rapidly evolving technology, and that the government needs to improve the ability of law enforcement to monitor terrorist and criminal groups.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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