Pentagon To Issue Fort Hood Review
DEBORAH AMOS, host:
Its MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Im Deborah Amos.
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
And Im Steve Inskeep. This is the day the Pentagon offers its view of what the military missed before a massacre at Ford Hood, Texas. People who know him say Major Nidal Hasan left many warning signs before opening fire last year. NPRs Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman has some details of what will be in the report. Hes with us live.
Tom, good morning.
TOM BOWMAN: Good morning, Steve.
INSKEEP: What did the government know?
BOWMAN: Well, its a lot like that failed bombing case in the plane that was heading to Detroit Christmas Day. The FBI had some troubling emails that Major Hasan sent to a radical cleric in Yemen. And the Army meanwhile had some complaints from his colleagues. For example, he was questioning whether Muslim soldiers should be forced to fight in Muslim countries.
And then there are also questions about his performance as an officer, that he was a substandard performer. So everyone had a piece but no government agency had the entire picture that he was a threat.
INSKEEP: This is reminding me of reporting at the time from our own Danny Zwerdling, that Major Hasans colleagues who worked with him in the Army hospitals had concerns about him, specifically at Walter Reed Medical Center.
BOWMAN: Thats right. Danny Zwerdling reported that some of Hasans supervisors had discussions more than a year before he went to Fort Hood. They were worried the might be psychotic.
The head psychiatric resident at Walter Reed, Scott Moran, tried in the spring of 2007 to kick Major Hasan out. But his superiors never acted on it. Moran wrote in a memo, which NPR obtained, denouncing Hasan for his, quote, "patterns of poor judgment and a lack of professionalism."
INSKEEP: Okay. So somebody wrote a memo. But then theres, of course, the question of who gets it. Was this kind of information available to superiors who not only left Hasan in the service but actually promoted him?
BOWMAN: Yes. Some of that, of course, was available. And thats what the Pentagon report will find today, that his evaluation reports were okay, but he did a minimum of work. At times he had weight problems. And again, Scott Morans memo that we have here. And also he failed to finish his residency on two occasions.
The report will find a fault with his supervisors for just moving him through the system. The reports going to say that they werent rigorous enough in making sure he was held to Army standards. And the report will say there has to be better oversight of officers throughout the Army, whether it's an officer -the officers a doctor at Walter Reed or an infantry combat leader in Afghanistan.
Now, Im also told as the Army goes through this report in the coming weeks and months, we expect to see some disciplinary action against some of Hasans supervisors, maybe as many as a half a dozen or so. And they could be disciplined by lets say letters of reprimand or something like that.
INSKEEP: All right. Letter of reprimand, maybe that seems appropriate for letting someone get promoted when the record didn't seem to show that they really deserved it. But isnt this a good deal more serious? I mean a lot of warning signs were missed leading up to a massacre here.
BOWMAN: No, absolutely. And of course the FBI is at fault here, because, again, they had these emails that Hasan sent to this cleric. And if you put that together with the problems that he had as an officer - what one officer told me, you know, if we had the entire picture of Hasan, the context with this radical cleric in Yemen, the substandard performance, so if you had all that together we would have seen him as a threat, and hopefully we would have tried to get him kicked out of the Army.
INSKEEP: Very briefly, Tom Bowman, what will this Pentagon report due out today recommend to prevent such problems in the future?
BOWMAN: Well, the important thing is more information sharing between government agencies on possible threats within the ranks. The Pentagons not done a good enough job about making sure, for example, they have personnel at the FBI run joint terrorism task force, where you could pick up some of these reports.
And the other thing is - this is more subjective - they want to make sure the commanders, that they have a responsibility, theyre going to tell them, to have a sense of who is serving under them, whether there are any complaints from colleagues and so forth.
BOWMAN: Just a better sense of who they are before any problems arise.
INSKEEP: Okay. Thanks very much. Thats NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman.