Finger-pointing erupted between federal agencies Tuesday over Fort Hood shooting suspect Nidal Hasan. Government officials said a Defense Department terrorism investigator looked into Hasan’s contacts with a radical imam months ago, but a military official denied prior knowledge of the Army psychiatrist’s contacts with any Muslim extremists.
The two government officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case on the record, said the Washington-based joint terrorism task force overseen by the FBI was notified of communications between Hasan and a radical imam overseas, and the information was turned over to a Defense Criminal Investigative Service employee assigned to the task force. The communications were gathered by investigators beginning in December 2008 and continuing into early this year.
That Defense investigator wrote up an assessment of Hasan after reviewing the communications and the Army major’s personnel file, according to these officials. The assessment concluded Hasan did not merit further investigation — in large part because his communications with the imam were centered on a research paper about the effects of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan and the investigator determined that Hasan was in fact working on such a paper, the officials said.
The disclosure came as questions swirled about whether opportunities were missed to head off the massacre in which 13 died and 29 were wounded last Thursday — a familiar, early stage in the investigation of headline-grabbing crimes when public officials involved in a case often speak anonymously as they try to shift any blame to rivals in other agencies.
This is entirely predictable. People who haven’t been doing their jobs right, and know that they haven’t, suddenly try to shift the blame to someone else when the fecal matter impacts the rotating blades. Of course, it never occurs to any of these folks (perhaps because they’re gubment drones) that if they’d do the job right in the first place, there’d be no need to shift the blame later.
The next stage is probably for lower-level functionaries to be blamed when it was really The Powers That Be at the various agencies that created the policies that the lower-level folks followed.
Unfortunately, real changes that would prevent something like Fort Hood from occurring again are probably not going to happen, because The Powers That Be won’t take the responsibility.