NPR logo Sen. Lieberman Defends Congress' Role In Nidal Hasan Probe

Sen. Lieberman Defends Congress' Role In Nidal Hasan Probe

Senators Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins are moving forward with their Fort Hood hearing despite the Obama Administration's stated concerns about Congress interfering with the criminal probe and trial. Alex Brandon/AP Photo hide caption

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Alex Brandon/AP Photo

Senators Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins are moving forward with their Fort Hood hearing despite the Obama Administration's stated concerns about Congress interfering with the criminal probe and trial.

Alex Brandon/AP Photo

Obama Administration officials, including President Barack Obama himself, have asked Congress to refrain from launching its own investigations of Maj. Nidal Hasan's alleged murders of 13 people and wounding of dozens more at Fort Hood Army Base in Texas so as not to interfere with the criminal prove and trial.

But Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the Connecticut independent, plans to proceed with a Thursday hearing on Hasan. Lieberman, who chairs the Senate's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee told All Things Considered host Melissa Block that he's confident the Senate can conduct its own investigation without compromising the prosecution.

That's because the Senate committee will be seeking answers to different questions than the prosecution will be trying to answer, Lieberman said.

For instance, Lieberman wants to learn why Army or civilian government employees didn't do more to derail Hasan's career given what was known about his contacts with an extremist Islamic religious leader and his reputedly weak job performance as an Army psychiatrist.

Here's a snippet of his conversation with Melissa:

MELISSA: Wouldn't there be overlap though between those same people you're interested in talking to who might also be used in any prosecution whether to speak to motive or to be used by the defense potentially?

LIEBERMAN: Well that's the gray area. I think It's pretty clear for instance, if we talked to somebody who reviewed those emails that the FBI has disclosed they have transcripts of, they're not going to be, in all probability, called in the criminal case.

To talk to people in the Army for instance who might help us understand what the rules of the Army are with regard to, for instance, the obligation of individual soldiers to report up the chain of command any behavior by a fellow soldier that leads them to worry about his or her ability to carry out their responsibilities or worse, that would lead them to feel that there was a threat.

We're going to figure out how to do this because again and his is like 9-11. Look, I remember the Bush Administration resisted the creation of a commission. This is a classic legislative-executive moment.

But each of us has a responsibility. And I can tell you on behalf of Sen. (Susan) Collins (of Maine), my Republican ranking member, and I that we're going to be persistent in pursuing what we think is our responsibility to get to the bottom of not the criminal case but the civil case, our responsibility to determine whether employees of the federal government did their best to stop this from ever having happened.