Posted on Fri, Aug. 20, 2010
last updated: August 20, 2010 08:19:52 PM
WASHINGTON — The November 2009 shootings of more than 40 people by an Army psychiatrist at Fort Hood, Texas, revealed a wide range of security lapses at U.S. military bases, including a failure to consider the possibility that a threat might come from an "insider," according to a Pentagon report released Friday.
The 23-page document makes 47 different recommendations on how to improve security in the aftermath of the attack, which left 13 people dead.
The report provides scant information, however, on how the security lapses contributed to the Fort Hood shootings. Pentagon officials continue to refuse to release the actual report of an independent panel into the shootings.
Among the recommendations:
Overseas, the Pentagon's ability to screen foreign nationals "who require access to (Department of Defense) facilities is limited by available resources and agreements with the host country," the report said. The report also said that military commanders have little authority to assess the possibility of violence from civilian Defense Department employees.
The report made just one mention of the events of Nov. 5, 2009 — in a section urging that the Pentagon establish better communication between bases about violent incidents.
When Fort Hood went on heightened alert as the shootings unfolded, the report said, "there were no indications that the rest of the Continental United States DoD forces were immediately notified of the event. Most installations found out . . . through the news media."
Many of the recommendations, however, could be paired with some of the public information known about Hasan.
For example, the government's Counterterrorism Center apparently was aware before the shooting that Hasan had sent e-mails to radical Yemeni cleric Anwar al Awlaki, but that information did not trigger any special action among Hasan's commanders.
Without referring to that chain of events, the report calls the Defense Department's commitment to joint task forces with other government agencies "inadequate" and called for the appointment of a senior Pentagon official to oversee Defense Department involvement with such task forces.
Hasan, 39, who faces 13 murder charges and 32 charges of attempted murder, was paralyzed during the shooting by return fire in the worst shooting incident ever at a U.S. military installation. He's being held in a Texas jail.
An Army psychiatrist, Hasan served at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and was sent to the military largest installation to address the mental health needs of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, but officials at Walter Reed questioned his abilities.
Indeed, some charged he urged fellow soldiers — including patients — to convert to Islam. He joined the Army in 1997, and the military spent thousands on his medical school.
The report's recommendations include several calling for better mental health care for Army mental health care providers and closer supervision and mentoring of junior Army physicians by senior officials.
Some of the recommendations appear to address the way the Pentagon handled the shootings.
Two call for better training of chaplains to respond to mass casualty events, one deals with improving policies on when expenses are reimbursed for travel to memorial services, and another calls for new policies on mortuary services for civilians killed on military bases.
The report also calls for better training for military and civilian base police forces in how to handle "an active shooter."
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