Senate subpoenas Obama WH over Fort Hood shootings

Over five months have passed since Army Major Nidal Hasan massacred fourteen people at Fort Hood, and Congress has lost patience with President Obama.  The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has gotten few answers from the Pentagon and the Obama administration about how Hasan was allowed to remain in a position to commit that murder spree despite multiple requests.  In a rare show of bipartisanship, Senators Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins issued subpoenas to force the White House and the DoD to start providing answers:

Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) issued the first congressional subpoenas of the Obama administration Monday after accusing the White House of stonewalling their requests for information about the Fort Hood shootings.

In a letter with the subpoenas, the chairman and ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said the FBI and Defense Department had ignored their requests for five months. The Nov. 5 shootings at the Texas base, the largest Army post in the United States, left 13 people dead.

Lieberman and Collins said they sought witnesses and documents about what the government previously knew about the alleged gunman, Army psychiatrist Nidal M. Hasan, and whether it had adequately investigated his pre-shooting communications with Yemeni cleric and suspected terrorist Anwar al-Aulaqi.

The White House has pushed off the requests, saying that testimony will interfere with Hasan’s prosecution and the internal disciplinary actions resulting from the incident.  That may have made sense in the first few weeks, but it’s now over five months since the shootings.  The foundation for Hasan’s prosecution should be fairly well established by now; it’s not exactly a whodunit anyway.  And if the DoD hasn’t gotten around to its internal discipline over the failure to recognize the danger Hasan presented, maybe Congress needs to know about that, too.

Previously, the FBI and the DoD have appeared in camera with select members of the committee, but that doesn’t allow the committee to address the problems openly.  That approach works on an ad hoc, informal basis, but these agencies have to have public accountability to Congress.  The White House has dragged its heels on that accountability, and it’s about time Congress demanded it.  More lives could be at stake, and we need to solve the defects in the system that allowed Hasan to remain in position despite the knowledge that he was communicating with a known AQ recruiter and had a track record of Islamist statements.