An investigation of the FBI's handling of the events leading up to the shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, in November 2009, concludes that agents made a series of mistakes, failing to follow up on important questions and to share information widely enough.
"We do not find, and we do not suggest, that these mistakes resulted from intentional misconduct or the disregard of duties," concluded William Webster, the FBI's former director who led the investigation. "Indeed, we find that each special agent, intelligence analyst, and task force officer who handled the information acted with good intent."
Most of the shortcomings have been previously disclosed, and some resulted from a lack of training and of understanding military nomenclature. For example, agents in San Diego, who were investigating al-Qaida propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki, noticed on December 17, 2008, that Nidal Hasan, who would become the Fort Hood shooter, sent al-Awlaki an e-mail asking about soldiers who kill fellow military personnel with the aim of "helping muslims fighting jihad."
The San Diego agents decided against sending out a broadly disseminated message that would have alerted the system that a member of the US military was communicating with a known al-Qaida terrorist. The agents noticed that a summary of his military records said Hasan was a "Comm Officer," and they assumed it meant he was a communications officer and might have access to the system that would contain such an alert message. In fact, the abbreviation meant Hasan was a commissioned officer.
The report also says agents in the FBI's Washington field office failed to follow through more aggressively to the leads developed in San Diego. Part of the problem, the report said, was that the FBI received only glowing accounts from the Department of Defense about Hasan's career. Agents were never told that he was actually considered a poor performer who was often on probation.
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