A new report examining the FBI’s handling of the 2009 Fort Hood terrorist attack that killed thirteen and wounded 32 other includes evidence that the FBI missed important warning signs before the massacre and includes several recommendations for changes to the agency’s procedures.
On Wednesday, Rep. Michael McCaul, (R-Texas) criticized the FBI after a briefing on the independent report findings:
“It shows you the length of the political correctness stuff going on,” McCaul said.
In February, 2011, a seperate report by the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs titled “A Ticking Time Bomb: Counterterrorism Lessons from the U.S. Government’s Failure to Prevent the Fort Hood Attack” revealed that the massacre by Army Maj. Nidal Nasan could have been prevented.
However, according to FOX News, the new report, which follows a two year investigation by former FBI Director William Webster concluded that despite several warning signs that were ignored by the FBI in the lead-up to the massacre, no disciplinary actions are warranted.
One major FBI “misstep” was revealed in the months following the Fort Hood massacre. Members of two FBI anti-terrorism task forces saw emails between the Army psychiatrist and American born Muslim cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki beginning in December 2008.
Anwar Al-Awlaki, the head of the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen was described in 2010 as the “next bin-Laden” by CIA officials, and the first American citizen to make the U.S. Government’s War on Terror “hit list.” Al-Awlaki was believed to be the mastermind in other key terrorist plots, including the “underwear bomber” before he was killed in a drone strike in Yemen last Fall.
After reviewing the e-mail exchanges, FBI agents decided the conversions between the two men were part of Maj. Nidal Hasan’s research on the effects of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Additionally, the new report evidences that FBI agents were concerned about investigating an American Muslim in the military, and that is why an investigation was not pursued.
Neither the FBI nor Webster has commented on the specifics of the report. However, the FBI and Defense Department have said that several counter-terrorism policy changes have been implemented since the 2009 attack to prevent future attacks.
The 18 recommendations will be revealed in the unclassified version of the report later this week.
One significant change that the U.S. government continues to struggle with is defining acts of terrorism. For instance, in her first appearance before the House Homeland Security Committee in 2009, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was careful not to use the word ‘terrorist’ or “terrorism.”
During her testimony before the House Homeland Security committee in 2011, Chairman Peter King pointed out that she used the terms more than 60 times and asked Secretary Napolitano to explain the change in tone. Napolitano responded by stating that in her first testimony, it just happened to be the one that didn’t use the word terrorism.
Rep. King stated during the February, 2011 hearing that the Fort Hood shooting fit the definition of terrorism. However, it was not until Jan. 15, 2010 during a background briefing with reporters that hesitant officials finally referred to the act as terrorism.