Army Maj. Nidal Hasan was exactly the kind of man many people knew him to be. And that’s why they continually promoted him and sent him some place else. Because nobody, apparently, was willing to intervene despite many warning signs about his behavior.
Those are the findings from the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. They found that the massacre allegedly carried out by Nidal Hasan could have have been prevented.
Had just one person acted on the information many different people had, the tragedy that occurred at Fort Hood on November 5, 2009 may have been prevented.
“The officers who kept Hasan in the military and moved him steadily along knew full well of his problematic behavior,” the report found. “As the officer who assigned Hasan to Fort Hood (and later decided to deploy Hasan to Afghanistan) admitted to an officer at Fort Hood, ‘you’re getting our worst.’ “
Even the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) knew about Hasan, because he came to their attention due to his constant emailing back and forth with radical Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. But did the FBI tell the Army? Apparently not:
The FBI conducted an “all too cursory” investigation into Hasan’s activities and left unresolved a disputed assessment between Joint Terrorism Task Forces in San Diego and in Washington, D.C., over the potential threat that he may have posed. The report found repeated delays in the FBI inquiry into Hasan that ended when an analyst mistakenly relied on Hasan’s “sanitized officer evaluation reports” to concluded that he posed no danger.
This is yet another example of many signs being there, but nobody having access to all the information in order to put it together into a coherent picture. For instance, Hasan’s officer evaluation reports didn’t go into the details about his problematic behavior, because that’s how most officer evaluations are (just like in the real world). The real knowledge was locked away informally in individual commanding officers’ heads, and only communicated between them when Hasan was being transferred.
The Senate committee’s 89-page report urged the Pentagon to develop new policies to help better warn superiors about extremism amongst their fellow soldiers. However, this wasn’t really the issue with Hasan — his superiors largely already knew of his problems. They just didn’t do anything about it.
Had the FBI also done a better job bringing Hasan’s suspicious behavior to Hasan’s superiors, you’d like to think someone would’ve taken notice. But given how Hasan’s entire problematic behavior while in the military was swept under the rug, I’m not convinced that would’ve helped either.
Hasan will likely stand trial in the upcoming months for the massacre he allegedly committed.
Meanwhile, we are still looking for a way to coordinate information about a person’s behavior among disparate entities. Universities, the police, and mental health professionals. Commanding officers, soldiers, the FBI. I don’t think the entities matter as much as the fact that here it is 2011 and we still don’t seem able to do this very basic thing. A thing that may be able to save future lives.
Read the full article: Report: Fort Hood massacre could have been prevented