WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., reacted Friday to the Defense Department’s review of its failure to detect and deter the alleged terrorist plot by Army Major Nidal Hasan that resulted in the deaths of 13 people at Fort Hood on Nov. 5, 2009.
Lieberman said: “I appreciate the Defense Department’s willingness to examine itself critically with regard to the missed signals that led to the tragic shooting deaths of 13 Americans at Fort Hood last November. I am also grateful to former Army Secretary Togo West and former Naval Operations Chief Admiral Vern Clark for their lifelong service to country and particularly their leadership in guiding the Department’s Fort Hood examination.
“I am encouraged that the Department recognizes the need to update its policies to protect servicemembers and welcome the Department’s intention to hold accountable those who failed to take necessary protective action.
“I am disappointed, however, that the report does not adequately recognize the specific threat posed by violent Islamist extremism to our military, a threat directly addressed by Senator Collins and me in a January 13 letter to Secretary Gates. I believe firmly that if DoD educates its personnel about violent Islamist extremism – and how terrorists distort the Islamic faith to promote violence – we will increase trust between the thousands of Muslim-Americans serving honorably in the military and their colleagues.
“This omission underscores the need for our Committee’s independent investigation. Unfortunately, the Department of Defense has been less than forthcoming in providing us access to the documents and witnesses we require. Now that the DoD review is public, the Department must cooperate fully with our Committee so that we can fulfill our constitutional duty to determine our vulnerabilities and correct them.”
Collins said: “The report of Secretary West and Admiral Clark identifies some needed changes in DoD policies governing potential internal threats. I also agree that the Pentagon should increase its cooperation with and commitment of resources to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces.
“More needs to be done, however, to address the threat of violence driven by ideology. During the 1990s, the military squarely faced up to the issue of violence driven by white supremacist ideology. We should be just as forthright now in addressing the threat of violence driven by other ideologies, including violent Islamist extremism. We have an obligation to our troops and their families to help ensure that a similar incident does not occur in the future.
“It is also imperative that Congress continue its own investigation. In that regard, I call upon the Administration to be more cooperative in providing our Committee with full access to key witnesses and documents.”
Lieberman and Collins preliminarily recommended, in a letter to DoD Secretary Gates dated January 13, that the military strengthen its policies relating to the recognition and reporting of violent Islamist extremism among servicemembers.