Page last updated at 21:25 GMT, Friday, 15 January 2010

US officers face investigation over Fort Hood suspect


'We have not done enough'

Several US army officers should face an investigation into their failure to supervise the Fort Hood massacre suspect, an official report says.

Thirteen people died when psychiatrist Major Nidal Hasan opened fire at the army base in Texas last November.

Unnamed officials earlier said up to eight officers would face action as his behaviour should have caused concern.

Defence secretary Robert Gates said army superiors must be "attuned to personnel who may pose a danger".

"Failure to do so, or kicking the problem to the next unit, may lead to damaging or even devastating consequences," he warned, after reading the Pentagon report on the incident.

'Evolving security threat'

Mr Gates did not comment directly on the reports of officers facing discipline over the case, but he did admit that the incident raised "serious questions" about the defence department's ability to address internal, as well as external, threats.

Nidal Malik Hasan in 2007 (Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences)
Maj Hasan will be tried in a military court

"We have not done enough to adapt to the evolving security threat that has emerged over the past decade.

"The department is burdened by 20th Century attitudes rooted in the Cold War," he said.

He added that there had been no well-integrated means of gathering and disseminating the wide range of behavioural indicators that could help identify a threat.

In a statement on the report, the White House said that information sharing between the departments of defence and justice on investigative matters should be improved.

'Act quickly'

It said one of the report's key recommendations was that a "more thorough and layered analysis" of information available to intelligence and law enforcement officials be carried out.

Adam Brookes
Adam Brookes, BBC News, Washington

The shootings at Fort Hood have unnerved the US military. And now the Pentagon investigation has found flaws in the way the military weeds out unstable or dangerous individuals.

The details concerning Maj Hasan have not been released, but leaks suggest that his supervisors knew he was unstable and held extremist views, but did nothing.

The Pentagon fears that this process - self radicalisation - was what led Maj Hasan to commit mass murder, rather than, for example, mental illness.

Two former officers who led the investigation told reporters there were differences between Maj Hasan's performance and his personnel records and that his top-level security had not been properly investigated.

Mr Gates announced that the investigation's immediate findings would be implemented by March.

The White House said several steps had already been put into place as a result of investigations into the incident.

"It is critical that we act quickly to [...] strengthen our ability to ensure the safety and security of the American people going forward, particularly those who serve in our Armed Forces," it said.

Maj Hasan, a 39-year-old American-born Muslim, will be tried in a military court, but it has not yet been confirmed whether military authorities are seeking the death penalty in the case.

Promotion and praise

According to the earlier reports published in the Los Angeles Times and by the Associated Press, Maj Hasan had shown lax work habits and a fixation on religion, was overweight and physically unfit.

He was also something of a loner, failing to socialise with work colleagues, and developed ever more strident views on Islam.

Yet he had been repeatedly promoted, and was awarded a military fellowship to continue his studies.

The army, the Los Angeles Times reported, seemed to overlook his behaviour because they were delighted to have found a doctor with a good undergraduate record, previous service in the infantry and Islamic faith.

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Yahoo! via Wap Pentagon: Mistakes by officers over Ft. Hood shooter - 9 hrs ago
Houston Chronicle Fort Hood massacre review finds Army unprepared - 28 hrs ago
Xinhua News Agency U.S. military not prepared for internal security threat - 39 hrs ago
Financial TimesAgencies ill-equipped for US-based terrorists - 41 hrs ago US army told to overhaul its protocols after Fort Hood gun rampage - 43 hrs ago
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