WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., Tuesday said they planned to work to close vulnerabilities at the Department of Defense (DoD) and the FBI that prevented the two agencies from averting the deadly Fort Hood massacre, which left 13 people murdered and 32 others wounded on November 5, 2009.
The Senators underscored the fact that they believe a major vulnerability is a failure to acknowledge the true enemy explicitly as violent Islamist extremism.
At a hearing to examine the findings and recommendations contained in the Senators’ investigatory report on the Fort Hood terrorist attack, Lieberman and Collins asked expert witnesses for their views on how to combat the ideology that fuels violent Islamist extremism and how to correct the negligence, missed communications, and failure to share information at the two federal agencies leading up to the attack.
“We’re going to stay on this until the gaps that were revealed in our report are closed and, to the best of our abilities, the problems are solved,” Lieberman said. “We want to send a clear message to everyone that Senator Collins and I did not just deposit the report and walk away. We need to be direct about who is the enemy and who is not, and lift the burden of suspicion from the vast majority of peace-loving, law-abiding Muslim Americans.”
Collins said: “Our report’s conclusion is alarming: DoD and the FBI collectively had sufficient information to have detected Major Hasan’s radicalization to violent Islamist extremism, but they failed to act effectively on the many red flags signaling that he had become a potential threat.”
The Senators’ report, entitled “A Ticking Time Bomb: Counterterrorism Lessons from the U.S. Government’s Failure to Prevent the Fort Hood Attack,” was released February 1, 2010, and detailed the opportunities lost by DoD to discipline or discharge accused killer Army Major Nidal Hasan, and the FBI’s failures to investigate Hasan thoroughly after he became known to the FBI but before the attack.
The report’s findings and recommendations were intended to improve policies and procedures to prevent homegrown terrorism in the future. One of those recommendations urges the federal government to be aware of the ideology that inspires violent Islamist extremism and to strengthen training and strategy to combat that ideology.
The witnesses were former FBI Deputy Director of National Security Philip Mudd; the Department of Homeland Security’s former top intelligence officer Charlie Allen; former four-star Army General Jack Keane; and Samuel Rascoff, a former intelligence analyst with the New York City Police Department.
Allen noted that the U.S. intelligence community doesn’t even have “minimum essential requirements” for how to collect information about violent Islamist extremism. The internet provides a virulent message to susceptible people all day, every day, Allen said, and “for us to not call it for what it is and deal with it directly will be more damaging in the long run.”
Keane – who was involved in an investigation of racial extremism in the Army – said that racial extremism has been brought under control because military commanders, officers, and enlisted men and women were trained how to recognize that particular brand of extremism and how to contend with it. “Take the burden off the soldiers and officers and make it a duty to report it,” he urged.
Mudd called homegrown terrorism a “metastasized threat” that requires more involvement by state and local law enforcers who can detect activity in their jurisdictions early on. “The police, the FBI, the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security should all be training together,” he said.