Fort Hood and Benghazi parallels

The tenure of outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller began one week prior to 9/11/01. He will officially step down twelve years later (to the day), on September 4, 2013. Two things of serious import happened on Mueller’s watch. First, Anwar al-Awlaki was let go in 2002, despite their being a warrant for his arrest. Second, Fort Hood jihadist Nidal Malik Hasan, who corresponded with al-Awlaki via emails that should have sounded alarm bells, later murdered 14 and injured 32 in 2009 at Fort Hood, TX.

FBI Director on handling Fort Hood attack: My guys did great.

FBI Director on handling Fort Hood attack: My guys did great.

It’s not often that we credit Mother Jones with excellent journalism but when it comes to Mariah Blake’s article on How the FBI Blew Fort Hood, they get an A+ from us. One thing is clear after reading it. The outrage many Americans have about no one being held accountable for what happened in Benghazi last year should also be directed at Fort Hood because the same problem appears to exist.

Throughout Blake’s article, ineptitude and incompetence is shown to have abounded when it came to Hasan. However, none of the individuals who participated in this incompetence are identified by name. Former FBI Director Robert Mueller is the only one whose name is brought forward and he’s defending the FBI’s actions.

After a December 2008 email from Fort Hood jihadist Nidal Malik Hasan to Anwar al-Awlaki about martyrdom got the FBI’s attention, Blake writes:

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in San Diego, which was tracking Awlaki, intercepted Hasan’s December email, along with another sent in January. A search of the Pentagon’s personnel database turned up a man named Nidal Hasan who was on active military duty and was listed as a “Comm Officer” at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC.

Normally, when the FBI unearths this kind of raw intelligence, it issues an Intelligence Information Report (IIR), which is shared with law enforcement agencies and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. (This system was designed to prevent the kind of information bottlenecks that allowed the 9/11 plot to go undetected.) But the San Diego agents misinterpreted the “Comm Officer” label in Hasan’s file to mean “communications officer” (in fact, it meant “commissioned officer”) and believed that a person in this role might have access to IIRs. To avoid tipping him off, they skipped the report and sent a detailed memo requesting an investigation directly to the Washington, DC, Joint Terrorism Task Force, a multiagency team overseen by the FBI that investigates terrorism cases in the capital. The message noted that Hasan’s “contact with [Awlaki] would be of concern if the writer is actually the individual identified above.” {emphasis ours}

As Blake points out, nothing happened for five months after being handed off to the Defense Criminal Investigative Services (DCIS) which, according to Blake, was “ill-equipped” to do the job of investigating Hasan. The San Diego field office remained involved in the case. No one’s identity is revealed in this bungled chain of events, beginning in February of 2009:

“…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.”

Who made up “the staff”? Who was the DCIS agent? Who conducted Hasan’s officer evaluations? Who was the chair of psychiatry that’s clueless about Islam? Who is accountable? Was anyone fired? If no names are made public out of concern for cover being blown, doesn’t that mean that no one was fired if no names are made public? We are talking about decisions and inaction that led to mass murder. The captain of the Exxon Valdez was publicly skewered for far less.

Another nameless figure appears to have some culpability in the Hasan case. Blake continued:

…the DCIS investigator concluded, based on Hasan’s file, that the Army psychiatrist had contacted Awlaki in connection with his academic research and “was not involved in terrorist activity.” The DCIS investigator and a supervisory agent in the Washington field office debated interviewing Hasan or his superiors. They ultimately decided doing so could jeopardize the Awlaki investigation or harm Hasan’s career.

The Awlaki investigation? Let’s go back to 2002 again. In February of that year, Awlaki was a guest at a plush Pentagon luncheon, despite having ties to at least two of the 9/11 hijackers. Why? Well, according to Fox News’ Catherine Herridge…

According to the documents, obtained as part of an ongoing investigation by the specials unit “Fox News Reporting,” there was a push within the Defense Department to reach out to the Muslim community.

“At that period in time, the secretary of the Army (redacted) was eager to have a presentation from a moderate Muslim.” {emphasis ours}

Why would the name of the secretary of the Army at the time of this luncheon be redacted? It’s rather easy to find. Thomas E. White, Jr. served as secretary of the Army from May 31, 2001 – April 25, 2003. Al-Awlaki’s luncheon at the pentagon was in February of 2002, during White’s tenure.

Thomas_E_White

Three days after the Fort Hood shooting, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey, whose immediate superior was one of White’s successors, appeared on the Sunday talk shows and talked about the Army’s precious diversity being a “greater casualty” than any of those lost or wounded at Fort Hood:

The sick irony is that Hasan’s victims epitomized diversity and diversity is what Hasan was attempting to eliminate. Diversity was a casualty, Gen. Casey.

Victims of Fort Hood: How is this for diversity, Gen. Casey?

Victims of Fort Hood: How is this for diversity, Gen. Casey?

Alonzo Lunsford: Fort Hood survivor

Alonzo Lunsford: Fort Hood survivor

Back to Blake’s article. Check out what she writes about the FBI office’s reaction to an email Hasan wrote to Awlaki that sought advice on suicide bombing. Again, no one named:

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?

Go figure, incompetence was mistaken for high-minded investigative techniques, which doesn’t appear to be all that dissimilar from what happened with Awlaki.

The Webster Commission report, which Blake cites throughout, perhaps offered the most truthful two words about how all of this incompetence is allowed to happen. The Washington DCIS agent, who probably should be fired and identified by name, allegedly rejected calls to interview Hasan by…

“…stressing that the subject was ‘politically sensitive.'”

Evidence against claims that demanding accountability is just Monday morning quarterbacking comes a short time later:

According to the congressional investigation, SD-Agent immediately pegged Hasan as the culprit. “You know who that is?” he asked one of his analysts. “That’s our boy.”

It is at this point that similarities between how the FBI – headed by Mueller – acted and how the State Department – headed by Hillary Clinton – has been acting after Benghazi:

On November 8, 2009, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee launched its investigation. According to a former Senate staffer who was involved in the inquiry, the committee struggled to get information from the FBI, which was reluctant to hand over the Awlaki emails and refused to let congressional investigators interview the agents involved. “The FBI insisted that it would have a chilling effect on the people making front-line decisions if they had to worry constantly about Congress calling them in to explain their actions,” the staffer said.

Typical inverted, bureaucratic logic. If people are held accountable, they may not do their jobs.

Compare that with the charges levied by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who sits on the House Oversight Committee, about what’s going on with the Benghazi witnesses.

Via The Blaze:

The Obama administration is “changing names” of the Benghazi survivors and “creating aliases” to keep them hidden from congressional investigators and the American people, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) told Greta Van Susteren on Thursday night. He also said the administration is “dispersing them around the country” to keep them out of sight.

Unlike the FBI in the Fort Hood investigation, individuals at State were named in connection with security breakdowns at Benghazi; four of them. Yet, all four essentially received eight months of paid vacation before being allowed to return to work. In the Accountability Review Board (ARB) report, the only one charged the price of accountability for security lapses that enabled the attack at Benghazi – in addition to the price of his own life – was Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

At Fort Hood – save for Hasan himself – accountability for lapses is in short supply as well and the victims are denied benefits and purple hearts because the Obama administration has decided that lies are the better course. Those purple hearts are right now sitting in the hands of liars instead of on the chests of victims of an act of war.

When it comes to Benghazi and Fort Hood, lies are in abundance and accountability is AWOL. Two videos, via Fort Hood Heroes:

Part 1

Part 2

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  • rich

    We have a lot of corrupt and/or incompetent people in our government. Sometimes I think the corrupt may even outnumber the incompetent.