Monday, November 16, 2009

FBI data on Fort Hood suspect scrutinized

FBI data on Fort Hood suspect scrutinized: "WASHINGTON — The FBIs effort after 9/11 to improve terrorism investigations will face sharp scrutiny this week as Congress begins probing whether authorities missed or ignored warning signs about the Army major charged with murdering 13 people at Fort Hood in Texas.Inquiries will focus on FBI-led terrorism task forces that were expanded after 9/11 to unite federal and local authorities in 100 cities.

The Joint Terrorism Task Force is 'our nations front line on terrorism,' the FBI says on its Web site.Yet lawmakers are questioning the task force that investigated Maj. Nidal Hasan in December and did not tell the Pentagon that he had exchanged 10 to 20 e-mails with a radical Muslim cleric.'A lot of the dots were not connected,' Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said Sunday on CBSs Face the Nation.

Leahys committee will question Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday. The Senate homeland security committee opens its probe Thursday.The FBI has defended its actions, and former security officials say the case illustrates constraints on exchanging investigative results.'There are limits on sharing information on U.S. persons,' said former Department of Homeland Security intelligence chief Charles Allen. 'There are issues of privacy, civil rights and civil liberties, and those are taken very seriously.'The terrorism task force did not share information about Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, because it found his e-mails were 'consistent with research' being done by Hasan, who 'was not involved in terrorist activities or planning,' the FBI said last week.

Task forces cannot give records to other agencies unless an agency requests them and the task force approves, the FBI said in its statement. No one asked for information about Hasan, the FBI said.Former White House homeland security adviser Frances Townsend said in an interview that investigators need to probe both the task force and how the military dealt with information about Hasan. 'Even if the FBI handled it correctly, the second level of inquiry is, What did the Defense Department do with it?' Townsend said.Michigan Rep. Peter Hoekstra, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said Sunday on Face the Nation, 'We had a lot of information on Hasan, but Im not sure that we put all these things in place so that we would have been in a position to perhaps stop what happened.

'Melissa Ngo, publisher of the Privacy Lives newsletter, said she worries lawmakers will take aim at privacy laws cited by the FBI in explaining restrictions on its ability to share information on Hasan.'The focus should not be on privacy laws,' Ngo said. 'The investigator decided that there is no potential threat, which prevented evidence-sharing. The focus should be on the investigation.'Related stories* 13 premeditated murder charges for Hasan* President Obama’s remarks at Hood memorial* Hospital: Hood shooting suspect awake, talking* Chaplain asks for prayers for accused shooter* Casey cautions on backlash against Muslims* Suspect off ventilator, breathing on own* Obama praises those who stopped shooter* Cleric: ‘Something wrong’ with Hasan* Work deeply affect Hood suspect, uncle says* George, Laura Bush visit wounded Hood soldiers* Hood community gathers to mourn victims* Suspect in Hood shootings remains in coma* Soldiers say carnage could have been worse* Shooting suspect said goodbyes before attack* Suspect was to deploy to Afghanistan* Online support follows Hood shootings* Tragedy assistance group was at Hood during shootings* Muslim group condemns Hood shootings* Shooting suspect was set to deploy* Hasan among May 2009 officer promotions"

(Via Air Force Times - News.)

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