Could the FBI have Prevented the Fort Hood Attack?
by Steven Emerson
Interview on Fox News
November 11, 2009
Multimedia for this item
JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO: As you just heard a short while ago, a memorial was held at Fort Hood for the 13 people killed and more than two dozen wounded in last week's attacks.
This, as we learn more about the suspect in the massacre, Major Nidal Hasan, and his ties to radical Muslims and beliefs. Major Hasan was on the FBI's radar – and the Pentagon's as well – as recently as last year, but they deemed he was not a threat.
What does that say about U.S. intelligence?
Steve Emerson is the Executive Director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism. Steve, welcome to the Glenn Beck program.
Did somebody in the government – the FBI, the intelligence community, military intelligence – have reason to know that this Major was a ticking time bomb who had publicly articulated statements fiercely at odds with the military's mission?
STEVEN EMERSON: Judge, that's a great question, and we're going to find out, I hope, in the next couple of weeks with Senate hearings and maybe some House hearings. Senator Joe Lieberman is going to be holding hearings next week. And I think that question about whether, in fact, there was evidence that he was a ticking time bomb is the quintessential question because colleagues of his heard him talk about suicide bombings, praise them, talk about the notion that he loves death more than Americans love life. So there was ample evidence – probably more than half a dozen pieces of evidence that were collected, or at least heard from – heard by – his colleagues over the previous 3 years that would have clearly indicated this guy had problems and was a menace to the United States – the United States government itself, not just to the military.
So the question remains: what did the FBI know and when did they know it? What did the Army CID (Criminal Investigation Command) know and when did they know it? And did the fact that the U.S. FBI become such a – has it become transformed into such an intelligence agency now that it waited so long to act on the evidence that it basically lost the law enforcement component of its mandate?
NAPOLITANO: Alright, well do these agencies talk to each other? Does the FBI talk to the CIA? Does the CIA talk to military intelligence? Does military intelligence talk to the CIA and the FBI? In other words, was there a legal or even a moral obligation on the part of whoever knew about this stuff about Major Hasan to report it to his superiors in the Army at Fort Hood?
EMERSON: You're asking another good question, and I don't know the answer to that question – whether, in fact, the information was shared by the multiple agencies that have jurisdiction – that had jurisdiction over this case. Clearly, the walls that had existed prior to 9/11 that had prevented intelligence sharing had been shredded by the 9/11 Commission and by the Patriot Act. So there should have been sharing of intelligence. Now was there? I don't know.
But clearly in the press release issued by the FBI last night, it said that the joint terrorism task force was aware of communications between Hasan and the criminal terrorist mastermind who is now living in Yemen, Anwar Al-Awlaki, but it deemed it to be innocent and not relevant to anything pertinent to national security. I wonder whether that was the prudent judgment or not.
NAPOLITANO: Right. Steve Emerson, thanks very much.
Reader comments on this item
Former FBI CT manager comments--this has been coming since before 2006
Submitted by Harlen Bell, Nov 12, 2009 22:04
Steve, I stepped down from manging a JTTF and retired in March of 2009 because, when I was a supervisor, I tired of telling my agents to be aggressive, curious, and diligent when I knew that the Bureau itself was set to persecute and, maybe, prosecute them if they did as I told them. The investigative techniques we had properly used, in accordance with Attorney General Guidelines, were being increasing questioned by DOJ, FBIHQ Legal, and others as the political winds changed from about 2006 onward. I could no longer justify putting these agents and taskforce officers in jeopardy from their organization as the Bureau hastened to cater to the new Congress and its antipathy to a "War On Terror". What was done in good faith in accordance with the guidelines would get you a team of lawyers from DOJ/FBIHQ to review your files and threaten you with OPR investigations or worse. Chilling to one's curiousity about jihad minded Muslims. This seems to have started with the attacks on the use of National Security Letters and expanded to every aspect of our operations. The risk averse attitude prevailed. I am only surprised that this hasn't happend before now. I don't think that the killing of the Army recruiter in Little Rock in June 2009 by Bledsoe and Major Hassan's jihad in Texas are unrelated.