As many as 8 army officers could face disciplinary action for failure to do anything about  Major Hasan who went on a rampage  and killed 13 soldiers at Fort Hood last November.  Defense Secretary Gates is expected to turn over findings to the Army for further consideration today.  The officers who could find themselves in trouble were those who supervised Hasan at Walter Reed during his training and who promoted him on down the line.  Those supervisors are being questioned why red flags were not thrown up over this soldier’s competence and behavior. 

According to Yahoo News:

The official said Thursday that a Pentagon inquiry finds fault with five to eight supervisors who knew or should have known about the shortcomings and erratic behavior of Hasan, who’s accused of killing 13 people at the Texas Army base on Nov. 5.

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.


The Army is not expected to delve into any contacts Major Nisan had with radical Muslim clerics.  That is part of his criminal case.  The Army is simply looking at the case from a supervisory point of view. 

Should 8 people be punished or is this typical behavior of government agencies?  There always seems to be a fall guy or 2.  Were those who supervised Hasan acting in the spirit of army political correctness?  Do governments, local, state, and federal, set a tone where certain behaviors are excused for certain groups of people?  Are different people held to a different standard because of sub-grouping?  Specifically, was Hasan allowed to be incompetent and erratic because he was Muslim?  Do people who ignore behavior from members of a group do so out of sympathy or out of fear of reprisal from the group members or the higher ups?  

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UpdateFrom the New York Times:

Pentagon Report on Fort Hood Shooting Details Failures

Calling the military's defenses against threats from within
its ranks outdated and ineffective, Defense Secretary Robert
M. Gates said that the Army mishandled warnings about the
poor performance and radical views of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan,
the military psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people in a
shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas, on Nov. 5. Several
officers who supervised Major Hasan during his psychiatric
training in the Washington area may be disciplined, he said.

16 Thoughts to “Army Officers Could Face Disciplinary Action over Fort Hood Suspect”

  1. GainesvilleResident

    Without really knowing all the details – it did seem to me that there were obvious signs about him that were ignored by his superiors during the time he served at Walter Reed, that should have been noted in his file and should have influenced the decision whether he was fit to deploy, etc. Not only that, it should have influenced the decision whether he should have been promoted, although it seems like that promotion was a semi-automatic one given that there were a shortage of Majors who were trained in that field. It may also have been a PC thing, due to his ethnicity. It is kind of hard to tell.

    However, it seems that too many people ignored fairly obvious signs, if reports in the press are to be believed. I think there should be consequences for those people. However, the military system may have enabled that behavior in some way – and that’s a far harder thing to fix. Then it also calls into question if the more guilty parties are the higher-ups who enabled that behavior (don’t report him for suspicious signs since he’s a Muslim, etc. etc.).

    In that case, these lower level folks may sort of be taking the fall. It’s hard to really know all the facts here – as I’m sure what’s been reported in the press doesn’t tell the whole story. I also mistrust a lot of reporting, so I take what I’ve read about it with a grain of salt. Maybe someone did try to report his behavior at Walter Reed – and we just don’t know about it.

    It is good the military is investigating – hopefully they will investigate if there were things in place that caused people to be fearful of reporting this behavior due to his ethnicity.

  2. Opinion

    It’s easy to find “dots to connect” after an incident occurs. I suspect that if I really looked into the background of any member of this blog, I could find “Symptoms” that could be connected into some explanation of bazaar behavior after the fact. Just participating in a political blog and posting perhaps unpopular points of view would certainly be one of the things that would be highlighted (he or she was obviously dissatisfied with the “system”). It’s also easy to assign blame for failure to “connect the dots” after the fact.

    The fact is that in real time, these “dots” (supposed indicators) are “lost” in a blizzard of information. The technology to sort through these data just doesn’t exist (this is an informed opinion). These data don’t cleanly present themselves into a pattern that may be used as a predictor of some behavior. If we were able to do this, there would not have been a “underwear bomber”, a “Financial Meltdown”, or violent crime in general.

    It’s easier said than done. I have mentioned before that attempting to proactively connect the dots in real time as a predictive tool is like standing in a snowstorm trying to find snowflakes that look alike.

    I’m a career soldier with Command time. It’s possible that Major Nisan’s behavior should have been identified in his Officer Efficiency Reports and considered when he was assigned and considered for retention in the service or promotion; however, I doubt any reasonable person could have predicted the terrible incident at Fort Hood. Privacy laws and equal opportunity considerations would have certainly limited just what his supervisors could do about his personal opinions or actions. Punishing the officers who happened to cross his path only compounds the tragedy.

  3. Opinion

    Correction… I was a career soldier (not “I’m a career soldier”). I am now retired; however, I will always consider myself a soldier.

  4. GainesvilleResident

    I think your point about dots to connect is well taken, Opinion.

    No question, there’s no way what happened at Ft. Hood could have been predicted.

    All of what you say is your post really is some very good points.

  5. Good discussion started by those who are in a better position to know than I am. Opinion and GR are coming at the issue from different sides of the desk, as it were.

  6. GainesvilleResident

    I actually think Opinion’s take on the issue is the more accurate one.

    As I said, it’s hard to really know what all the facts were, and while there seemed to be stuff that was cause for concern – it may be it really didn’t rise to the level that there were enough “dots to connect” as Opinion says, before the incident occured. Now, in hindsight it seems that there are a lot of dots to connect, but it is far easier to do so in hindsight than in foresight.

    This sort of stuff goes on all the time when they do background investigations on people for security clearances for example. At some point a judgement call has to be made, and obviously it isn’t an exact science.

  7. Wolverine

    Opinion is certainly right on the problems encountered in connecting those dots in real time and before the fact. That task is somewhat like trying to work an almost endless chain of jigsaw puzzles all at the same time, with critical pieces always missing. Unfortunately, intelligence in counterterrorism rarely, if ever, comes in reports which can stand on their own legs. It usually comes in far flung and sporadic bits and pieces; and the amount of time you actually spend on any one puzzle or in connecting a specific area of similar dots depends on whether or not other puzzles have been deemed to have a greater sense of urgency.

    It is also not an area where you can just go out and hire extra hands to help with the puzzles. Putting those puzzles together often demands a very deep knowledge of and experience in the area under scrutiny. Without that, the significance of critical pieces of information can be easily missed. Sometimes, if you are lucky, it helps to bring in a colleague of equal or near-equal knowledge and experience to look at a puzzle with fresh eyes. In fact, we recently had a long-standing murder case in Loudoun County solved through just that tactic — fresh, experienced eyes. In sum, connecting the dots before the deed happens is not an easy task, especially when you have a flood of new and disparate dots falling in your lap every day.

    Although my only sources now are the same news reports everyone sees, I can pretty well guess from personal experience and knowledge where the breakdowns came in the case of the Detroit “underpants bomber.” The Fort Hood case, however, seems to be a bit more complicated. It seems to me that those who most frequently heard Major Hassan express his pro-jihadist philosophy were medical personnel, mainly military doctors. Now, I think Opinion might agree with me that military doctors — and I love ’em to pieces because they healed a lot of people like me — are sometimes not quite on the same military plane, so to speak, as other officers, especially if their only service has been outside a combat zone. All I can say is that, if I, as a line officer, had heard Hassan make those remarks, I would have gone straight to that installation’s security officer and briefed him on it. To Hell with any idea that I might be biased against Muslims; I am only reporting what I heard. I would guess that Opinion would have taken the same action. Military doctors? Maybe not so quickly. So, like Gainesville Resident, I say wait for the internal investigation to see what happened. But I will be vitally iinterested to know if political correctness in our military has been carried to such an extreme point that it has become, in effect, potentially suicidal.

  8. Gainesville Resident

    I think Woverine’s point about military doctors not being attuned to things in the same way as a regular military officer, is a really good point.

  9. kelly3406

    I agree with Wolverine to a point. But in recent years it is my observation that the medical corps has become “less separated” from the rest of the military.

    The problem with Opinion’s viewpoint is that no one in the chain of command was expected to “connect the dots”, perform counter-intelligence, or predict the terrible tragedy. They are only expected to take action against an individual who was performing poorly, making disloyal statements or exhibiting bazaar behavior. There was no action taken against Hasan whatsoever — no letter of counseling, no poor performance report, no Article 15, nothing ….

    Let’s look at this from another standpoint that we older officers remember well. What if during the Cold War this guy had contacted officials in Moscow and made public comments supporting communism? His security clearance would have been revoked and disciplinary action would have been taken.

    That is all we are asking for here. There should have been some disciplinary action taken to reflect that this guy was a poor performer and displayed poor judgement/questionable loyalty. The requirement is not to “connect the dots”, but to maintain good performance and discipline. If Hasan’s record were blemished by disciplinary action/poor performance report, it is much less likely that he would have been sent to such an important position at Fort Hood.

    My statements above presume that Hasan’s superiors were aware of his statements and communications with radical clerics. If they were not, then that is another matter entirely.

  10. Interesting to read you all’s point of view.

    Kelly, if I can read between the lines, the fact that the enemy is borderless now which makes everything more blurred. Additionally, how does one declare war against Jihad or radical Islam. Where do we draw the lines? I like perimeters.

    Am I missing something here?

  11. Wolverine

    I cannot argue necessarily with kelly3406’s view on military doctors. Things may well have changed somewhat with the full volunteerism of the current military. My own experience was that military doctors were usually doctors first and military officers second. Not a criticism. Just an observation. I cannot state anything for sure here; but, from what I have read, the non-action of the doctors who heard Hassan speak on his radicalized personal views reminded me of what I had seen in the past. Again, not a criticism of military doctors. Far from it. One of the thoracic specialists working the beat where I was hospitalized out of Vietnam was the one who performed the critical operation on Ronald Reagan immediately after the assassination attempt. Most of the doctors I knew couldn’t march to save their lives but they could sure “doctor.”

    kelly3406 brings up a point which has never been clear to me from whatever reading I have done. Did the observations on Hassan’s attitudes ever reach the level of his normal chain of command in a performance evaluation or in informal discussions of personnel capabilities? I don’t mean Hassan’s capabilities and promise as a doctor but specifically his expressed views on Islamic radicalism. That would seem to be a key investigative point. At what point did they know this stuff (if they knew it) and why didn’t they do anything with it? By failing to move this info to a higher and especially a higher security level, did they leave their superior officers in the dark?

    If the above was part of the breakdown in the DOD, it would look like the superior officers got a double whammy here. The critical info may not have been passed up from the ranks. However, the DOD had another chance to get the info from a different direction and focus on it. It is my understanding that intel on the contacts between Hassan and the radical cleric in Yemen was passed to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, where there was at least one rep from the DIA. According to reporting, a decision may have been made not to alert the DOD to this because the dots were not yet adequately connected. Those darned “dots” again. This reporting, if true, was what really shocked me. I would have thought that surely there was some kind of frequent JTTF liaison with the DIA where somebody in the latter organization had the job of handling the very delicate, “just thought you ought to know” stuff. Kelly3406’s observation about the Cold War was spot on. I was once the officer who maintained the classified data flow for several consecutive vice-admirals. I know that, if I had neglected to bring something like this to their attention, I could have ended my military career as one of the signal flags flying from a capital naval ship.

    Ah, but enough uninformed speculation from a cantakerous old vet of a hot war, the Cold War, and the war against terror. I seem to be playing with the puzzles again when I am supposed to be in retirement.

  12. Opinion

    I just talked to a member of the Military Medical Community about Major Hasan this morning. He brought it up. His take, “Military Doctors don’t snitch on other Doctors”. I’ll take his word for it.

  13. kelly3406

    Moon-howler :
    Kelly, if I can read between the lines, the fact that the enemy is borderless now which makes everything more blurred. Additionally, how does one declare war against Jihad or radical Islam. Where do we draw the lines? I like perimeters.

    I would argue that the issue has nothing at all to do with the type of war. Even if the U.S. were at peace, a military person who participates with, publicly advocates, or otherwise supports an individual/organization dedicated to violence against the military or U.S. citizens has to be identified/removed. A commander who has knowledge of one of his (her) subordinates taking part in such activities has the responsibility to take disciplinary action against that person.

  14. Kelly, I am not going to argue anything. I am out of this loop as far as knowledge or experience goes. I mainly wanted clarification. What you are saying certainly makes sense. War-Shmar. It doesn’t matter.

    Opinion, maybe the military docs need to start snitching. My only frame of reference is M*A*S*H. I think often reguar doctors don’t snitch on other doctors. It isn’t professional or something. I guess those who didn’t snitch might be court marshalled if it was their job to evaluate. Is this part of regular military culture?

  15. Opinion

    M-h, I’m just reporting what one member of the Military medical community told me. I”m guessing Doctors stick together in or out of the Military; however, I really don’t know. Any Doctor’s (Ph.D’s don’t count) out there with insight?

  16. As a former U.S. Army Reserve Office in the Adjudant General Corps Branch, I can attest to the “incompetency” of the Army’s “Officer Efficiency Report” System. There is MUCH more attention paid to getting the reports in on time, and completed properly, than in the substantive matter contained in the reports. Indeed, I personally am familiar with instances in which a Commander delegated the preparation of OER’s to a subordinate, who had no personal knowledge of an evaluee’s credentials or competency, and made generous use of accolades like “outstanding” and “promote ahead of his peers” in order to make the “signer” and “endorser” of the OER “look good” by virtue of having “outstanding” Officers under their command. A “really-working” OER System would have identified this “rag-head” treasonous killer long before he committed fratricide. But then, of course, so would a System which actually have reviewed his pre-fratricide Security Clearance. And so would a System which enabled “Brother and Sister” Officers to speak freely about other Officers, without fear of retribution for “discrimination” against Members of that “Religion of Peace”, namely “Worshipers of the Koran”. The FIRST head to roll should be the head of the Chief of Staff, General Casey, who is responsible for gross incompetency in the Army ranks.

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