WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., said Thursday that they would issue subpoenas to the Administration if it does not provide by April 19, 2010, critical information and access to witnesses the Senators have sought for five months in their investigation into the Fort Hood shootings.
The Senators said the Administration’s arguments against providing the information were without merit and counter to previous Executive Branch precedent.
“I regret to say our efforts to investigate this terrorist act have been met with much foot dragging, very limited assistance, and changing reasons why the Administration cannot provide us with the information we have requested,” Lieberman said. “In short, the response of the Executive Branch has been inadequate and unreasonable.
“The Administration claims that this information could compromise its prosecution of Major Hasan and that Congressional interviews of front-line agents would chill the conduct of intelligence and law enforcement activities. We strenuously disagree.
“Shortly after the November 5 murders, President Obama said that he not only welcomed a Congressional investigation but that Congress should investigate. After five months of trying to obtain the information necessary to do so, we conclude that people within the Administration didn’t hear the President’s words or they have been overturned.”
Said Senator Collins said: “Sadly, for the past five months, we have been stymied by this Administration in our attempt to gain access to the documents and people that we need to interview in order to better understand what the government knew about Major Hasan prior to the attack. We have taken step after step, made offer after offer, to accommodate any legitimate concerns expressed by the Administration. Unfortunately, what we’re dealing with are not legitimate concerns, but rather what seems to be an inexplicable determination to stalemate and slow-walk our investigation.”
She added that Congress has a duty to investigate the attack, saying: “Congress must fully understand this example of home-based terrorism in order to find ways to help prevent it from occurring in the future. And in order to perform our vital oversight function, we must have the cooperation of Administration officials. As the President initially recognized, Congress has an obligation to the American people to conduct an independent, fact-finding investigation. And that’s why we are very concerned about the Administration’s approach of just ‘spoon-feeding’ us selected facts rather than giving us access to the data and individuals that we need.”
The critical information sought by the Senators includes the FBI and DOD documents and witnesses related to information those agencies had about alleged shooter Major Nidal Hasan before the shootings and his personnel file and performance evaluations. Hasan killed 13 Americans and wounded 31 others in a shooting at the Fort Hood military base in Texas.
Lieberman and Collins cited previous Congressional investigations in which FBI agents had testified, despite ongoing criminal prosecutions, including the House-Senate Joint Inquiry into the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and an investigation into the 1992 Ruby Ridge shoot-out between Randy Weaver and the U.S. Marshals Service.
Additional background on the Committee’s efforts to obtain documents and witnesses can be read here: http://hsgac.senate.gov/public/?FuseAction=home.FortHoodInvestigation