Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Delaying congressional investigations of Hasan and the Fort Hood shootings

Why is the Obama administration blocking a congressional investigation of the Fort Hood shootings. First they refused to send administration officials to testify before a Senate hearing.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has released the witness list for its hearing "The Fort Hood Attack: A Preliminary Assessment," scheduled for Thursday at 10 a.m. ET. The list includes four experts on terrorism and intelligence issues: retired Gen. Jack Keane, the former U.S. Army vice chief of staff; Brian Jenkins, a senior advisor at the Rand Corp.; Mitchell Silber, the director of analysis for the New York City Police Department's Intelligence Division; and Juan Zarate, a senior advisor for the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

But the list does not include anyone actively involved in investigating the Fort Hood attack, or anyone who might have been responsible for decisions made by various government agencies before the attack about whether to investigate the shooting suspect, Nidal Hasan. The Senate committee source said HSGAC Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) had hoped to have witnesses from the FBI and the U.S. Army, but was rebuffed in his requests.
President Obama has said that he wants to wait while the investigation goes on. And in the House, the Select Committee on Intelligence is also postponing their hearing.
Rep. Silvestre Reyes, chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said that the NSC had taken over the briefings "due to the high visibility of the issues surrounding the tragic event at Fort Hood," and that Democratic leaders agreed to postpone any congressional action on the shootings.

"This is a somewhat complicated case," the Texas Democrat said of the Nov. 6 rampage, attributed to Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, that left 13 dead and 29 wounded on the country's largest Army post.

He said Congress should give "the guys who are charged with protecting this country, protecting our national security" time to do their work and "wait until all the facts are in."

But Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the ranking Republican on the intelligence committee, said the country cannot afford to wait to find out if failures in the intelligence community and the Pentagon are allowing other potential attackers to fester within the military.

"The prosecutor in this case is not assigned the responsibility to take a look into the process of how to keep America safe. That is the responsibility of Congress," he said. "It has to happen now. This is not something we should take weeks or months to wait on."
Does anyone think that either the House or Senate would delay an investigation if the Fort Hood shootings had taken place on President Bush's watch?

The committees are tasked with making sure that there isn't some flaw in our system that is allowing someone like Major Hasan to slip through the cracks. And the supposedly most transparent administration ever should be cooperating instead of postponing that investigation. This shouldn't be a partisan issue. After all, the ignoring of all the signals that Hasan was giving off happened during both the Bush and Obama presidencies. If there is a mindset within the Defense Department that put political correctness and fears of offending a man because he was a Muslim when there were quite a few indications that the guy had become radicalized and was endorsing jihadist thinking while trying to violate the confidentiality of his patients' discussions with him, then we should know about that mindset sooner rather than later and get to work on an attitude adjustment within our Defense Department and intelligence agencies.