Defense Department shortcomings revealed by U.S. Secretary Gates
United States Department of Defense shortcomings were revealed today by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. The disclosure is a result of a broad review Gates ordered after Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan allegedly killed 13 people in a November 5, 2009, shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas. The top Republican on the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, Representative Pete Hoekstra, is not entirely convinced that the Obama Administration is completely forthcoming on this matter.
"The review concluded that [Defense Department] force-protection programs are not properly focused on internal threats such as workplace violence and self-radicalization," Gates told Pentagon reporters. "The problem is compounded in the absence of a clear understanding of what motivates a person to become radicalized and commit violent acts."
However, a ranking US congressman had said repeatedly that he is concerned that President Barack Obama and his administration is being less than forthcoming with details of the Fort Hood Massacre and is withholding requested information.
U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, claims that the Obama administration may be restricting the dissemination of information and limited information provided so far to the so-called “Gang of Eight.”
Congressman Hoekstra, following up on multiple conversations with the Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, requested that Blair and the heads of the FBI, the NSA and the CIA direct their agencies to preserve all documents and materials relevant to the Fort Hood attack and any related investigations or intelligence collection activities.
“While American Islamist organizations are quick to condemn the Fort Hood massacre and are desperately trying to cast it as a mere criminal act, they have fueled the U.S. “war on Islam” canard since 2001. It has been used to squelch serious debate over their behavior and to discredit virtually all U.S. government efforts to combat Islamist terror. It should come as no surprise, though, that some jihadists hear this and feel compelled to “respond” to the imaginary threat,” said terrorism expert Steve Emerson of the Investigative Project.
During his press conference, Gates said he would forward to Army Secretary John McHugh the review's recommendations on how to hold accountable the Army personnel responsible for supervising Hasan. According to reports, Hasan had displayed behaviors before the shooting that suggested sympathies toward radical Islam, possible red flags that could have derailed the shootings.
Gates had tapped Former Army Secretary Togo West and retired Navy Adm. Vernon Clark, a former chief of naval operations, on November 19 to assess the department's procedures for identifying and responding to potentially dangerous troops within the ranks.
"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," said Gates, adding that the department is still bogged down in a Cold War mentality. "Our counterintelligence procedures are mostly designed to combat an external threat, such as a foreign intelligence service."
The review describes a military more equipped to investigate and adjudicate criminal conduct such as domestic abuse and gang activities than it is on outside influences posing an internal threat. Further, the current scope of prohibited activities is incomplete and fails to provide adequate guidance to commanders, Gates said.
Secretary Gates wants to establish a 'senior Defense Department official' responsible for integrating force-protection policies. Gates also shared one 'positive finding':
Noting the department's lack of ability to gather and disseminate information about possible dangers, Gates underscored the need to establish a senior Defense Department official responsible for integrating force-protection policies throughout the department.
One positive finding Gates shared was the "prompt and effective" initial response at Fort Hood highlighted in the review. Anticipatory planning for such a mass-casualty event paid dividends in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, the review found.
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