- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 16, 2010

The U.S. military is stuck in a Cold War-era mentality and ill-equipped to spot internal threats like the gunman who killed 13 soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, according to a Pentagon review of the shooting released Friday that has lawmakers demanding changes.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said government officials never wrote down their concerns about Maj. Nisal Malik Hasan, the Army doctor charged with the killings, and instead focused on his academic record, which allowed him to be promoted.

It’s the second time in recent weeks the government has had to admit it failed to connect the dots and head off an attack, following the Christmas Day airplane bombing attempt in Detroit.

Stressing that the Pentagon can only “deal with internal threats if we can rely on the quality of the information reported in our official records,” the review urged Defense Department officials to develop new guidelines that would consider the full range of possible indicators that someone has become radicalized or capable of violent acts.

Mr. Hasan reportedly had contact with a radical cleric in Yemen prior to the Nov. 5 shooting, which also injured 43 people. He had also prepared a PowerPoint presentation on Islam that highlighted possible feelings of conflict among Muslim soldiers, arguing that they should be given the option of release as conscientious objectors to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“It is clear that as a department, we have not done enough to adapt to the evolving domestic internal security threat to American troops and military facilities that has emerged over the past decade,” Mr. Gates said. “In this area, as in so many others, this department is burdened by 20th-century processes and attitudes, mostly rooted in the Cold War. Our counterintelligence procedures are mostly designed to combat an external threat such as a foreign intelligence service.”

The administration refrained from commenting in detail its handling of the Hasan case, citing pending criminal charges. One senior official, however, called the shooting “an act of terrorism.”

The report said the military currently remains unable to handle similar threats in the future, particularly simultaneous attacks: “We are fortunate that we faced only one incident at one location. We cannot assume that this will remain the case in the future.”

Mr. Gates said he hopes to “fix this problem” by March, and ordered aides to review the report’s recommendations in order to implement them “as quickly as appropriate.” Congressional leaders demanded immediate action.

It is unacceptable that a number of red flags and performance deficiencies were identified but not reflected in Major Hasans official record, and we need to do everything we can to close these gaps in our system,” said House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, Missouri Democrat.

“It is clear that federal agencies must do a better job of sharing information. The Fort Hood tragedy, much like the Christmas Day bombing attempt over Detroit, clearly demonstrates shortcomings,” said Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Separately, the FBI is conducting a review of federal law enforcement agents’ handling of information related to Maj. Hasan.

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