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.
The disclosure Tuesday of the defense investigator's role indicated that the U.S. military was aware of worrisome behavior by the massacre suspect long before the attack. Just hours later, a senior defense official, also demanding anonymity, directly contradicted that notion.
Guess I was wrong about Nidal Hasan motivations for this slaughter being linked to rising frustration over being deployed again overseas. More and more info is coming out linking Hasan to Al Qaeda and some of the 9/11 hijackers. How Barry deals with this very troubling prospect will be very interesting.