Army Missed Many Opportunities to Stop Hasan

Army Missed Many Opportunities to Stop Hasan

The victims and survivors of the November 2009 Fort Hood massacre filed a lawsuit against federal and Pentagon officials because they believe the shooting was preventable. The New York Times received two emails sent by the accused shooter, Maj. Nidal Hasan, sent prior to his attack and provides additional evidence suggesting the Army missed many opportunities to investigate him before the rampage.

Hasan, a military psychiatrist, emailed his supervisors 13 days before the attack about three cases he found disturbing. Hasan requested the release of the emails to the Times through his lawyer, John P. Galligan. The Times reports:

In one case, a soldier reported to him that American troops had poured 50 gallons of fuel into the Iraqi water supply as revenge; the second case involved another soldier who told him about a mercy killing of a severely injured insurgent by medics; and in the third, a soldier spoke of killing an Iraqi woman because he was following orders to shoot anything that approached a specific site.

Hasan’s superiors never followed up on those communications. Hasan said he opened fire on soldiers on November 9, 2009, to protect Muslims and members of the Taliban from American troops. The NYT provided more examples when the Army could have stopped Hasan:

In 2007, when Major Hasan was a resident in the psychiatric program at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, the academic presentation he made that was required for graduation – known as his grand rounds presentation – stated that a risk of having Muslim Americans in the military was the possibility that they would murder their fellow troops.

He had also asked a supervisor at Walter Reed whether he qualified for conscientious objector status, told classmates during a fellowship that his religion took precedence over the Constitution and in an academic paper defended Osama bin Laden.

Soon after making the grand rounds presentation in 2007, Major Hasan made another presentation in which he argued that the United States’ war on terrorism was a war on Islam, and the class was so offended that the instructor stopped him before he finished. Despite those episodes, Major Hasan was promoted from captain to major in May 2009 and assigned to Fort Hood that July, and his officer evaluation reports referred to him as a star officer.

Judge Col. Tara Osborn threw out this evidence in Hasan’s military trial, including the emails he exchanged with Anwar al-Awlaki. In February 2011, The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee released their report “A Ticking Timebomb: Counterterrorism Lessons from the U.S. Government’s Failure to Prevent the Fort Hood Attack” and found government officials had plenty of information to stop Hasan. However, Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) were disappointed the report did not state the root cause of the attack, which they argued was violent Islamist extremism.

The prosecution rested their case against Hasan on Tuesday afternoon; the defense is expected to present their case on Wednesday.