Pentagon to boost ties to fight terrorism

Fort Hood killings leads to change

By Gary Martin
San Antonio Express-News / April 16, 2010

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WASHINGTON — The Pentagon vowed yesterday to work closer with law enforcement agencies about potential terrorist threats after a study commission criticized the military for poor coordination in the case of Army Major Nidal Hasan, who is accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, last year.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates also said the Pentagon will adopt a uniform policy on personal gun ownership at military installations.

The policies were announced as Senator Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent and chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, accused the Pentagon and Justice Department of stonewalling his investigation into the shooting by refusing to provide documents and witnesses.

“We have been met with much foot-dragging, very limited assistance, and changing reasons why the administration cannot provide us with the information,’’ Lieberman said. Lieberman and Senator Susan Collins of Maine, the top Republican on the panel, said they would issue subpoenas next week for FBI agents and Defense Department officials who were aware of Hasan’s contact with a radical Yemeni cleric before the shootings on Nov. 5.

Hasan is awaiting court martial on 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. He suffered gunshot wounds in the attack and remains paralyzed in jail at Bell County, Texas.

An independent review of the shooting completed in January by former Army secretary Togo West Jr. and retired Admiral Vern Clark led to a critical report about lack of communication between the military and US security agencies. It included 79 recommendations to better protect against future attacks. Gates this week ordered the military to immediately adopt 26 of the changes and said he would decide on the others by June.

The Pentagon also said that it was expanding an FBI and military threat reporting system to flag suspicious incidents. The announcement added that Gates wanted to work with the FBI and to establish a database to share information.

Another change would be to implement a departmentwide policy on how private weapons are stored and carried on military installations.