The FBI had information on Nidal Hasan as far back as 2008, when they intercepted emails between Hasan and radical cleric and terrorist mastermind, Anwar al-Awlaki. Hasan told Awlaki that he wanted to kill soldiers to protect the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The FBI intercepted more than a dozen emails between January and May of 2009. Despite the radical talk contained within them, no real investigation took place.
It started with a misinterpretation in Hasan’s file. The file stated that he was a “comm officer” at Ft Hood. The agent took that to mean he was a communications officer at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC.who might have access to IIR reports. (Intelligence Information Report) It actually stood for commissioned officer. Had the IIR report have been filed, other agents would have had more complete information when investigating Hasan.
Excerpts from Hasan’s emails is startling. For instance, Hasan wrote that suicide bombers were heros.
For example, he reported a recent incident were an American Soldier jumped on a grenade that was thrown at a group of soldiers. In doing so he saved 7 soldiers but killed himself…So, he says this proves that suicide is permissible in this example because he is a hero. Then he compares this to a soldier who sneaks into an enemy camp during dinner and detonates his suicide vest to prevent an attack that is know to be planned the following day.
“I would assume that suicide bomber whose aim is to kill enemy soldiers or their helpers but also kill innocents in the process is acceptable.”
An FBI agent in the San Diego office read it but didn’t connect it to the previous emails because there was no IIR filed. He ultimately labeled it as “Not a Product of Interest.” Then on June 11th, the same agent read the Washington Task Force report and although he still had not connected Hasan to both investigations, the agent in San Diego was worried that the investigation was so sparse.
He contacted the Washington Field Office (WFO) and inquired on the emails and why Hasan was never interviewed. The Washington DCIS agent dismissed the agents concern, saying the WFO “doesn’t go out and interview every Muslim guy who visits extremist websites” and adding that the subject was “politically sensitive.” (Not word for word but meaning is intact) So they didn’t investigate because Hasan was a Muslim and it would be “politically awkward”?
Now, normally in a case where there is a difference of opinion, the problem is supposed to be reported a link higher in the chain of command, but the San Diego officer didn’t do that. Another major error was that none of the agents bothered to check the database of intercepted communications, which would have immediately sent up red flags.
In November, Hasan whipped out two pistols and killed 13 and wounded another 42 people. When congress proceeded to investigate, the FBI withheld the emails and refused to let the agents who let the information slip through their fingers. The FBI maintained that if congress were to question the agents, it would have a chilling effect on other agents. It might, but it also might keep the agents more on their toes and help them spot possible terrorist actions, politically sensitive or not.
Sen Joe Lieberman placed the blame of the Ft Hood shootings on the FBI and the Pentagon for failing to act on information that, “with the clarity of hindsight just shouts out, ‘Stop this guy before he kills somebody!'”
In an era where an administration makes the argument that by spying on all 320 million Americans is necessary, you have to wonder, if they could let something so obvious slip by, as it had in the Boston Marathon bomber case, why is it necessary?