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A 'string of failures' by FBI, Defense in failing to discharge Hasan

From NBC's Ken Strickland
The Department of Defense and the FBI had enough information about the suspect in the 2009 Fort Hood massacre to have discharged him from the military before he killed 13 DOD employees and wounded 32 others, according to a new bipartisan Senate report.

The report on the Texas army base shooting, authored by Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman and top Republican Susan Collins, says that both agencies were aware of suspected gunman Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan's radicalization to violent Islamist extremism "but failed both to understand and to act on it."

"Although both the public and the private signs of Hasan's radicalization to violent Islamist extremism while on active duty were known to government officials, a string of failures prevented these officials from intervening against him prior to the attack," it says in its executive summary.

The senators say their investigation found "specific and systemic failures" in the government's handling of the case and cited additional concerns about possible broader systemic issues. "The FBI and DoD together failed to recognize and to link the information that they possessed about Hasan" they write.

Hasan's move toward violent Islamist extremism "was on full display to his superiors and colleagues during his military medical training,” according to the report’s findings. One instructor referred to Hasan as "a ticking time bomb."

"Not only was no action taken to discipline or discharge him, but also his Officer Evaluation Reports sanitized his obsession with violent Islamist extremism into praiseworthy research on counterterrorism."

In a stinging charge against the Defense Department's handling of the matter, the report added, "DOD possessed compelling evidence that Hasan embraced views so extreme that it should have disciplined him or discharged him from the military, but DoD failed to take action against him."

While the inquiry credited one FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force unit for initially flagging Hasan because he was communicating with a suspected terrorist, it criticized a second unit's follow-through. According to the report, the second JTTF unit "failed to identify the totality of Hasan's communications" and didn't inform Army security about them.

"Instead, the JTTF inquiry relied on Hasan's erroneous Officer Evaluation Reports and ultimately dismissed his communications as legitimate research," the senators write.

The report suggests that because the two FBI units had different views of the severity of other unit's findings, the matter was eventually dropped "rather than cause a bureaucratic confrontation."

"The JTTFs never raised the dispute to FBI headquarters for resolution, and entities in FBI headquarters responsible for coordination among field offices never acted. As a result, the FBI's inquiry into Hasan ended prematurely,” it reads.

*** UPDATE *** The FBI responded to the report in a written statement, which reads in part: "The FBI recognizes the value of congressional oversight and agrees with much in the report and many of its recommendations. During the internal FBI review undertaken immediately after the attack at Fort Hood, we identified several of the areas of concern outlined in the report, and, as noted in the report, have implemented changes to our systems and processes to address them. We will review each of the report's recommendations and adopt them, as appropriate."