Suspected Fort Hood Shooter Believed to Be Self-RadicalizedBy CAM SIMPSON and SIOBHAN GORMAN
Wall Street Journal
November 18, 2009
Some lawmakers briefed Tuesday on the Fort Hood shooting said the suspect, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, was most likely a self-radicalized extremist.
The briefing for select members of Congress came as Republicans with oversight of national-security issues called on Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to open a full congressional inquiry into alleged government miscues in the case of Maj. Hasan. He is charged with murdering 13 people Nov. 5 on the sprawling U.S. Army base where he served as a psychiatrist.
Military and FBI investigators cautioned lawmakers Tuesday their probe is still in its early stages, according to people familiar with the briefings.
But there didn't appear to be any new information about alleged connections between Maj. Hasan and foreign or domestic extremists, cementing the early view that he acted alone, officials said.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D., Texas) said that declaring Maj. Hasan a homegrown radical would be premature. "It's dangerous to speculate at this point when we know we don't have all the facts," he said in an interview.
Intelligence officials last year secretly intercepted communications between Maj. Hasan and a radical Yemeni cleric, but a subsequent probe by an FBI-led task force determined the psychiatrist, who treated emotionally wounded warriors, didn't pose a terrorism threat.
In a letter to Ms. Pelosi Tuesday all nine Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee said they believe the evidence available thus far "strongly indicates that the circumstances surrounding the shootings at Fort Hood require immediate and thorough investigation."
The letter also said there appears to be significant "intelligence sharing failures that must be reviewed and addressed immediately" in order to safeguard against potential attacks. Michigan Rep. Pete Hoekstra, the top Republican on the panel, said there was "a systemic failure" by government agencies to detect the threat posed by Maj. Hasan, who Mr. Hoekstra said appears to have been "self-radicalized."
Others Republican lawmakers said their existing views about such mistakes were bolstered by what they heard in briefings Tuesday. "I believe more strongly than before that steps have to be taken to improve communications and sharing of information between the various agencies in the federal government," said Rep. Peter King, a member of the intelligence panel and the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee.
Democrats responded coolly to the proposal for a full, congressional probe. A spokesman for Ms. Pelosi said the intelligence committee would continue its oversight of the matter.
The case is creating friction between Democrats and Republicans, as well as between the White House and some members of Congress. The Obama administration has called on lawmakers to hold off on any Congressional inquiries until after a criminal probe by FBI and U.S. Army investigators is finished. The administration is also conducting internal reviews, as is the Army.
Attorney General Eric Holder is set to appear for an oversight hearing Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Senate aides say lawmakers are planning to ask about the Fort Hood probe and the Guantanamo detainee trials.
The Senate Homeland Security Committee will launch its investigation of the attacks at a hearing Thursday, but administration officials have declined to participate.