Revealed: How the FBI and DoD missed Nidal Hasan

posted at 4:51 pm on August 27, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

In the aftermath of the terrorist attack conducted by Army Major Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood in November 2009, news surfaced that Hasan had conducted correspondence by e-mail with Anwar al-Awlaki, the American leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.  At the time, the FBI insisted that the e-mail contacts were “fairly benign.” As late as last week, FBI Director Robert Mueller insisted that investigators “took appropriate steps” in dealing with the correspondence. According to an internal report obtained by Mother Jones, though, the correspondence alarmed investigators enough to demand action — which the Defense Department declined out of concern for its political sensitivity.

It’s impossible to excerpt this and do justice to it, so be sure to follow the link to Mother Jones and read it all. A few paragraphs stand out, though:

Meanwhile, Hasan kept writing Awlaki. Between January and May 2009, he sent the radical cleric more than a dozen emails, and received two relatively benign responses. In one message, ostensibly about Palestinians firing unguided rockets into Israel, Hasan asked Awlaki whether “indiscriminately killing civilians” was acceptable. Two days later, he sent another message answering his own question: “Hamas and the Muslims hate to hurt the innocent but they have no choice if their going to have a chance to survive, flourish, and deter the zionist enemy. The recompense for an evil is an evil.” (Hasan’s emails contained a number of typos.)

The San Diego field office intercepted these missives, too. But the database where the FBI stored intercepted emails didn’t automatically link messages from the same sender, so the staff didn’t realize that Hasan’s early 2009 emails were from the person who had set off alarms the previous December. Meanwhile, the Washington-based DCIS agent assigned to investigate Hasan put off his inquiry for another 90 days, the maximum allowed under joint task force rules, before conducting a cursory investigation. Over the course of four hours on May 27, 2009, he ran Hasan’s name through several databases to see if the psychiatrist had been targeted in previous counterterrorism probes. He also reviewed Hasan’s Pentagon personnel file. Hasan’s officer evaluations were mostly positive, and the chair of psychiatry at Walter Reed had written that Hasan’s research on Islamic beliefs regarding military service had “extraordinary potential to inform national policy and military strategy.”

After the string of e-mails continued, other agents caught wind of Hasan’s activities. However, in an outcome that has echoes of 9/11, few people seemed to be talking with each other, and even fewer taking it seriously.  One agent came in at the tail end and even without the context of the earlier messages quickly came to the conclusion that this needed more attention than it was getting.

An FBI agent in the San Diego field office, whom the Webster report identifies as “SD-Agent,” reviewed this email, but again failed to link it to the Hasan case. He ultimately determined it was “Not a Product of Interest.” On June 11, the same agent read the Washington task force’s report on the Hasan investigation. While he still didn’t connect the dots with the message he read, the agent was dismayed that the investigation hadn’t gone deeper and considered the justification for not interviewing Hasan “weak excuses.” His colleagues in San Diego agreed. In fact, according to the Webster Commission, one of them believed Hasan must have been a confidential source—why else would the Washington office conduct such a perfunctory investigation?

At this point, SD-Agent asked the DCIS investigator on his team to press his Washington counterpart to dig deeper, after which the San Diego DCIS agent sent Washington an email asking why the investigation was so “slim.” In a follow-up phone call, he explained that San Diego would have at least interviewed Hasan. According to the Webster Commission, the Washington DCIS agent dismissed these concerns, saying the Washington field office “doesn’t go out and interview every Muslim guy who visits extremist websites” and stressing that the subject was “politically sensitive.” (The Webster report notes that the quotes are not verbatim).

You know what else was “politically sensitive”? These e-mails that clearly pointed out the failures to connect the dots on Hasan.  The FBI initially resisted releasing their findings publicly, but eventually published the Webster Commission report on their website in July of last year … without apparently letting anyone know about it.  Kudos to Mother Jones’ Mariah Blake for publicizing it.

This now makes the question about the Obama administration’s classification of the Fort Hood massacre even more urgent. There is no doubt at all of the motive behind Hasan’s actions — it was clearly intended as a terrorist attack. Why won’t the White House acknowledge it?  Perhaps that, too, is “politically sensitive.”


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

They didn’t “miss” him; they deliberately ignored him.

davidk on August 27, 2013 at 4:54 PM

All the dough and surveillance…total duds with Hasan, Boston and at least 5 more, since 9/11/01.

Schadenfreude on August 27, 2013 at 4:55 PM

I hope this guy gets to meet them soon, very soon.

Schadenfreude on August 27, 2013 at 4:55 PM

Revealed: How the FBI and DoD missed Nidal Hasan…

…he wasn’t at any Tea Party rallies or in communication with any wingnuts.

Flange on August 27, 2013 at 4:55 PM

How the FBI and DoD missed Nidal Hasan

muslims are a protected class.

Pork-Chop on August 27, 2013 at 4:58 PM

If he’d have been a veteran they’d have gotten him, or the IRS would have.

Same for what Flange said.

Schadenfreude on August 27, 2013 at 4:58 PM

They missed the mosque he visited too.

Schadenfreude on August 27, 2013 at 4:58 PM

obama looks out for his bros, always. Wake up world and America!

The classification of “work related” is an insult to humanity.

Schadenfreude on August 27, 2013 at 4:59 PM

Obama masked rodeo clown got more scrutiny than Hasan! Heck, even Plumber Joe.

Deano1952 on August 27, 2013 at 4:59 PM

He wasn’t a threat to the right people.

vityas on August 27, 2013 at 5:00 PM

The war is over. The terrorists won.

PC will kill all. I’ll laugh as some heads get cut off. YOU know who you are.

Schadenfreude on August 27, 2013 at 5:01 PM

This now makes the question about the Obama administration’s classification of the Fort Hood massacre even more urgent. There is no doubt at all of the motive behind Hasan’s actions — it was clearly intended as a terrorist attack. Why won’t the White House acknowledge it? Perhaps that, too, is “politically sensitive.”

Of course it is politically sensitive for the White House. They claim that there hasn’t been a domestic terrorist attack since the 9/11/01 atrocities even though there have been many. To admit that the position they have held for years is untrue is more than a slap at their credibility, it means that the mythological perfect streak of thwarting domestic terrorism comes to an end.

And BTW, not one of the domestic terror attacks was prevented by NSA snooping or good investigative work by any of the other alphabet agencies.

Happy Nomad on August 27, 2013 at 5:03 PM

Remember the general who said that the real tragedy of Hasan killing Americans would be if it hurt the diversity efforts of the military.

Everything is now political.

gwelf on August 27, 2013 at 5:04 PM

obama looks out for his bros, always. Wake up world and America!

Schadenfreude on August 27, 2013 at 4:59 PM

Libya has been delivered to Al Qaeda by Obama.

Obama orchestrated Al Qaeda to come to power in Egypt but something went terribly wrong and it is going to take some time to engineer a new attempt.

Syria is about to get their Al Qaeda leadership.

I don’t think it a coincidence that Barak Hussein Obama seems to be surrounding Israel with Al Qaeda affiliates and nations with an affinity to brutal bloodshed of one’s enemies.

Happy Nomad on August 27, 2013 at 5:07 PM

Say what you will about progressives and the like, but Mother Jones has always had a well-deserved reputation for getting good journalists to do their jobs very well. Might not agree with their stories…but the research and sources are there.

Why was hassan missed?

He wasn’t.

He was ignored, because that is what was demanded.

Hassan was providing interesting insights into the Moslem psyche…or some such nonsense…and when you have groups such as CAIR telling the US government how to deal with Moslems…no matter what the facts on the ground are telling you…and obviously no non-Moslem could ever ever in a million years fathom the mystique of Islam/Mohammedism…well, better to not make waves.

Meanwhile, others, non-Moslem, have had careers truncated because of being outspoken about Islam in the US military I am certain.

Who’d sacrifice their career, assignment, rank, to point out to a government not willing to listen that one of their military officers was a jihadi?

Hell, the judge in Hassan’s trial made sure to prevent the prosecution presenting any evidence showing that Hassan was a jihadi…might prejudice the case, you know, and that was just a week ago.

We’ve learned nothing.

coldwarrior on August 27, 2013 at 5:08 PM

But the NSA knows who I emailed….more unconnected dots..just like the Boston people. At what point do we start calling a spade a spade and going after those people hell bent on doing us harm

jaywemm on August 27, 2013 at 5:08 PM

The best investigative blogging by far on the the Ft. Hood Massacre was by AJ Strata, back in 2009.

http://strata-sphere.com/blog/index.php/archives/11404

It’s worthwhile to read his latest and go back through his collected archive of postings on Ft. Hood. He’s nutty on other issues, referring to himself as a Radical Centrist, which evokes an image of a heavily-bearded Larry Kudlow sporting a green Hezbollah bandana wagging his finger and shouting about Todd Akin while waving a copy of Cruchy Cons by Rod Dreher in a cheaply-made YouTube video, but he deserves an award for his work on Ft Hood.

sartana on August 27, 2013 at 5:09 PM

They didn’t “miss” him; they deliberately ignored him.

davidk on August 27, 2013 at 4:54 PM

Remember the general who said that the real tragedy of Hasan killing Americans would be if it hurt the diversity efforts of the military.

Everything is now political.

gwelf on August 27, 2013 at 5:04 PM

This, and this. Hey Ed — friends don’t let friends help fascists. I know you didn’t mean to but you should know by now that there is no rational discussion possible about Muslims. If you try, it signals weakness. Tom Jefferson would easily recognize this aspect of today’s political scenery.

platypus on August 27, 2013 at 5:09 PM

And what was the NSA doing at this time?

What is the point of collecting data if they are too gutless to even use it?

sharrukin on August 27, 2013 at 5:11 PM

How the FBI and DoD missed Nidal Hasan

He wasn’t a Christian, white or a member of a group that loves America.

HotAirian on August 27, 2013 at 5:11 PM

So once again, the whole thing comes down to the toxic political correctness that infects our government from the lowest levels to the highest. Americans are dying because of this poisonous political belief. When will we stop it?

RebeccaH on August 27, 2013 at 5:11 PM

They missed him because of their “See no Islam, hear no Islam, speak no Islam, known no Islam” policy. They missed him as they are part and parcel of The Three Monkeys Of Oblivion.

VorDaj on August 27, 2013 at 5:12 PM

Hey! At least they were able to stop The Tea Party after the results of the 2010 elections came out!

GarandFan on August 27, 2013 at 5:14 PM

Hasan’s officer evaluations were mostly positive, and the chair of psychiatry at Walter Reed had written that Hasan’s research on Islamic beliefs regarding military service had “extraordinary potential to inform national policy and military strategy.”

Just proves that most FITREPs are total BS.

NavyMustang on August 27, 2013 at 5:17 PM

They didn’t “miss” him; they deliberately ignored him.

davidk on August 27, 2013 at 4:54 PM

They did, and this is why:

They missed him because of their “See no Islam, hear no Islam, speak no Islam, known no Islam” policy. They missed him as they are part and parcel of The Three Monkeys Of Oblivion.

VorDaj on August 27, 2013 at 5:12 PM

dogsoldier on August 27, 2013 at 5:18 PM

Happy Nomad on August 27, 2013 at 5:07 PM

Iran
Iraq
Afghanistan
Pakistan
Yemen
Turkey
Tunisia

…it’s not Al Qauida he wants, it’s his MB.

Schadenfreude on August 27, 2013 at 5:19 PM

There is no doubt at all of the motive behind Hasan’s actions — it was clearly intended as a terrorist attack. Why won’t the White House acknowledge it?

Because it doesn’t fit with the Obama policy of appeasing Muslim terrorists and pretending that all Muslims, and especially American Muslims, are brilliant, hard-working, law-abiding, peaceful types who make great American citizens (despite their rejection of every fundamental American value).

What else did American voters think would happen when they elected a self-proclaimed “citizen of the world” who disdains the United States and had openly promised to “side with the Muslims” in a clash of civilizations?

Elections have consequences. Especially elections that put fools like Obama into powerful offices.

AZCoyote on August 27, 2013 at 5:20 PM

I’m surprised this pro-Islamist administration actually let him be tried.

darwin on August 27, 2013 at 5:30 PM

Odd. If an Iraqi Muslim soldier on base with Americans walks into the mess hall and blows himself up, along with some Americans, it’s a terrorist attack. If an American Muslim solider guns down a few of his fellow Americans while yelling “Praise Allah,” it’s workplace violence.

Amazing how labels can work.

Wonder what you call saying something that you know it’s true?

IndieDogg on August 27, 2013 at 5:40 PM

Why won’t the White House acknowledge it? Perhaps that, too, is “politically sensitive.”

If they acknowledge it, they would not be able to say there have been no AQ terrorist attacks in the US since Obama took office. Because AQ is on the run and “decimated”. Remember the Boston Marathon attacks were carried out by a lone wolf(s) and they were not a real terrorist attack, just some lonely Tea Partier guy(s) who looked at right wing websites and got the idea to kill people from Sarah Palin.

Johnnyreb on August 27, 2013 at 5:44 PM

The different commands he was assigned to knew he was a bad apple.They all did what the Army always does.CYA,promote,give good ratings,and transfer to another unsuspecting unit.

docflash on August 27, 2013 at 6:09 PM

They all did what the Army always does.CYA,promote,give good ratings,and transfer to another unsuspecting unit.

docflash on August 27, 2013 at 6:09 PM

No, the Army did what it will do when it has a Muslim officer who is a bad apple. Dempsey’s comment about not jumping to conclusions reflects the Army culture when it comes to adherents of the religion of peace. Had the officers over Hasan been honest they would have moved for dismissal from the service. Had the officers over Hasan cared about the troops they would never have been willing to deploy a radical Islamist to the middle east with soldiers. Had the Army system possessed some integrity, Hasan would not have been the only one facing court martial for their actions (or inaction).

Same holds true, BTW, in the Manning case. A PFC isn’t able to steal 700K classified records without his superiors dereliction of duty. These higher-ups should also have been held to account. But in both cases the Army has decided to make it a single perp acting as a lone wolf instead of prosecuting the systemic corruption that leads a worthless armchair general to declare that we must not jump to conclusions when a Muslim is screaming Allah Akbar while gunning down scores of soldiers.

Happy Nomad on August 27, 2013 at 6:26 PM

The last three years of the Obama admin will be everyone else picking up the pieces from his bad decisions. And after that, hopefully a new president to try to rebuild, to salvage what’s left.

Paul-Cincy on August 27, 2013 at 6:33 PM

Why won’t the White House acknowledge it? Perhaps that, too, is “politically sensitive.”

No, it was a minor case of “workplace violence”. Or, as Whoopie would say, it wasn’t terrorism terrorism.

TXUS on August 27, 2013 at 6:35 PM

So, in light of this gross level of negligence can the families of the victims file multiple massive lawsuits against the FBI and DoD?

wkh on August 27, 2013 at 6:44 PM

From the beginning, the only word I’ve had for this case was “sad.” The original incident was a tragedy, the events leading up to it – and the missed opportunities to prevent it – were terrible and the end of this trial was just … sad.

factsonlypls on August 27, 2013 at 7:01 PM

The Muslim Whisperer told the FBI and DoD how to handle it…

albill on August 27, 2013 at 7:20 PM

What’s the big deal anyway. He just killed a few grunts. After all that’s much safer than having somebody call you racist and accuse you of profiling. It’s just work place violence anyway and that could happen anywhere. If you think I need a sarc tag for this post there’s something seriously wrong with you.

Oldnuke on August 27, 2013 at 7:26 PM

The original incident was a tragedy, the events leading up to it – and the missed opportunities to prevent it – were terrible and the end of this trial was just … sad.

factsonlypls on August 27, 2013 at 7:01 PM

What I find sad is that he won’t be force fed pork BBQ, shot in the head with a bullet coated in pig grease then thrown into a pig pen to be disposed of by hogs.

Oldnuke on August 27, 2013 at 7:31 PM

the Washington field office “doesn’t go out and interview every Muslim guy who visits extremist websites”

Are there so many of them on our military bases that they can’t spare the time?

Socratease on August 27, 2013 at 7:34 PM

I fully expect the nut job at DHS to go full Hasan any day now. And then they will be just, oh, appalled at this work place violence!

PattyJ on August 27, 2013 at 10:11 PM

Hilarious that this is in Mother Jones. They would be the first to paint a radical Muslim terrorist as a good guy because he’s non-white and not Christian.

fleiter on August 27, 2013 at 10:27 PM

This just in: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/28/us-usa-crime-forthood-idUSBRE97Q11A20130828

Nidal gets the death sentence.

Can the commutation be be far behind?

virgo on August 29, 2013 at 12:28 AM