- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Saying they feared a possible government cover-up, two senators issued subpoenas Monday to two of President Obama’s Cabinet secretaries, ordering them to turn over documents related to the fatal shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, last year.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Sen. Susan Collins, the ranking Republican, said five months of requests have produced nothing, so the subpoenas were necessary to force the Justice and Defense departments to comply.

“Unfortunately, it is impossible for us to avoid reaching the conclusion that the departments simply do not want to cooperate with our investigation,” the senators wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

They set an April 26 deadline for the department to turn over the documents they are seeking.

The senators are looking into how government officials handled their jobs and whether they missed signs. They said they are not looking into the criminal case against Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who is accused of killing 13 people at the Texas military base.

The Defense Department has said it is afraid the committee’s investigation could jeopardize the case against him.

“The reality is that your requests seek information that is relevant and important to the criminal case,” Elizabeth L. King, assistant defense secretary in the Office of Legislative Affairs, wrote last week in a letter to the senators.

She said continuing the committee’s investigation could raise fears that the prosecution of Maj. Hasan “is subject to political pressure or influence.”

Mr. Lieberman, Connecticut independent, and Miss Collins of Maine said the administration’s reasons for denying access to information or witnesses have changed over time, which the senators said makes them skeptical. They also said that some information the departments agreed to make available has still not been turned over.

Maj. Hasan, who was wounded by police during the Nov. 5 shooting, has been charged with 13 counts of murder and faces the death penalty if convicted. He is awaiting a court-martial.

Internal e-mails exchanged by his superiors say Maj. Hasan was too fat and “chronically” unprofessional during his psychiatric training. The communications are part of a series of early signs that showed officers had reason to suspend Maj. Hasan’s training, and perhaps re-evaluate his suitability as a military physician, but failed to do so.

The FBI and other intelligence agencies learned that Maj. Hasan had sent e-mail messages to Anwar al-Awlaki, a suspected al Qaeda-affiliated radical imam in Yemen who reportedly urged followers to join the terrorist group and kill Americans.

However, the FBI said in a statement that it dismissed the e-mails as apparently part of Maj. Hasan’s work as a psychiatric counselor. The bureau did not share the intercepted comunications with the military people who could have stopped Maj. Hasan, nor did the FBI question the major.

An Army inquiry released in January recommended the service branch look at disciplining Maj. Hasan’s medical superiors who failed to raise red flags about his conduct, and instead passed him along to the next program and command. The e-mails reviewed by The Washington Times were among the report’s restricted annex material not released to the public.

In May 2007, as a then-Capt. Hasan approached a June 30 date to complete his residency in psychiatry, his direct supervisor warned higher-ups he had failed a physical by being overweight.

“He is a chronically somewhat unprofessional officer with a somewhat poor work ethic,” Maj. Scott Moran, residency director, wrote in e-mail to a superior.

Maj. Moran said he was preparing to put Maj. Hasan on probation and extend his residency.

But the superior rejected the idea, saying it would prompt a total re-evaluation of Maj. Hasan.

In addition to the weight issue, another development could have slowed or stopped Maj. Hasan’s advancement.

“There is another twist,” Maj. Moran wrote on May 11, 2007. He told a second superior that Maj. Hasan did not have sufficient months in a psychiatric clinic to complete his residency.

This superior dismissed Maj. Moran’s concerns. “We discussed his situation or one like it at the time and decided that the distinction between year levels was arbitrary as long as he got the requisite number of months doing the necessary things,” the superior wrote.

Rowan Scarborough contributed to this report.

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