Thursday, November 19, 2009

What the military knew about Nidal Hasan

NPR has obtained a memo that was written about Nidal Hasan two years ago by a top psychiatrist at Walter Reed who worried about Hasan's professional abilities.
Two years ago, a top psychiatrist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center was so concerned about what he saw as Nidal Hasan's incompetence and reckless behavior that he put those concerns in writing. NPR has obtained a copy of the memo, the first evaluation that has surfaced from Hasan's file.

Officials at Walter Reed sent that memo to Fort Hood this year when Hasan was transferred there.

Nevertheless, commanders still assigned Hasan — accused of killing 13 people in a mass shooting at Fort Hood on Nov. 5 — to work with some of the Army's most troubled and vulnerable soldiers.
Usually a memo like this in someone's professional file would have been a career-killer.
More than a page long, the document warns that: "The Faculty has serious concerns about CPT Hasan's professionalism and work ethic. ... He demonstrates a pattern of poor judgment and a lack of professionalism." It is signed by the chief of psychiatric residents at Walter Reed, Maj. Scott Moran.

When shown the memo, two leading psychiatrists said it was so damning, it might have sunk Hasan's career if he had applied for a job outside the Army.
Here are some of the points made in that memo.
The memo ticks off numerous problems over the course of Hasan's training, including proselytizing to his patients. It says he mistreated a homicidal patient and allowed her to escape from the emergency room, and that he blew off an important exam.

According to the memo, Hasan hardly did any work: He saw only 30 patients in 38 weeks. Sources at Walter Reed say most psychiatrists see at least 10 times that many patients. When Hasan was supposed to be on call for emergencies, he didn't even answer the phone.

An undated handout photo of Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, earlier this month.
An undated handout photo of Maj. Nidal Hasan
U.S. Government Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences/Getty Images

An undated handout photo of Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, earlier this month.

Sharfstein says the memo doesn't suggest that Hasan would end up shooting people, but it warns that Hasan was "somebody who could potentially put patients in danger."

"There are all kinds of warning signs, flashing red lights, that, in terms of just this paragraph, you'd say, 'Oh, no, this is not somebody that we would take a chance on.' "

Sharfstein says that in the 25 years he has been supervising and hiring psychiatrists, he has seen only a half-dozen evaluations this bad.
So the guy was clearly not professionally qualified to treat troubled patients. So what did the military do? They shipped him off to Fort Hood, but sent the damning memo along with him?

This needs a thorough investigation as to why this guy was kept around. The White House needs to stop stonewalling a true investigation of why this guy was kept around and allowed to interact with troubled soldiers.