US official: Officers may get hit for base rampage
WASHINGTON (AP) – A Pentagon inquiry into the case of the alleged Fort Hood shooter could lead to punishment of up to eight Army officers, a U.S. official said late Thursday.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates was expected to refer findings on the officers to the Army for further inquiry and possible punishment. The report on what went wrong in the case of Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is accused in the shootings, is expected to be released Friday.
The official said a Pentagon inquiry finds fault with five to eight supervisors who knew or should have known about the shortcomings and erratic behavior of the shooting suspect. Hasan is accused of killing 13 people at the Texas Army base on Nov. 5.
The officers supervised Hasan when he was a medical student and during his early work as an Army psychiatrist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
The official described the confidential report on condition of anonymity because it has not been made public.
According to information gathered during the internal Pentagon review and obtained by The Associated Press last week, Hasan’s strident views on Islam became more pronounced as his training progressed. Worries about his competence also grew, yet his superiors continued to give him positive performance evaluations that kept him moving through the ranks. That led to his eventual assignment at Fort Hood.
Recent statistics show the Army rarely blocks junior officers from promotion, especially in the medical corps.
Hasan showed no signs of being violent or a threat. But parallels have been drawn between the missed signals in his case and those preceding the failed Christmas Day attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound U.S. airliner. President Barack Obama and his top national security aides have acknowledged they had intelligence about the alleged bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, but failed to connect the dots.
The Pentagon review is not intended to delve into allegations Hasan corresponded by e-mail with Yemen-based radical cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, before the Fort Hood shootings. Those issues are part of a separate criminal investigation by U.S. law enforcement officials.
Hasan has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. Authorities have not said whether they plan to seek the death penalty.
After the Fort Hood shootings, Gates appointed two former senior defense officials to examine the procedures and policies for identifying threats within the military services. The review was led by former Army Secretary Togo West and retired Navy Adm. Vernon Clark.
Associated Press writer Richard Lardner contributed to this report.