April 27th, 2010
02:23 PM ET
5 years ago

Government offers compromise on Fort Hood documents

Sen. Joe Lieberman and Sen. Susan Collins have been investigating the Fort Hood shootings.
Sen. Joe Lieberman and Sen. Susan Collins have been investigating the Fort Hood shootings.

Washington (CNN) – As a deadline loomed, the Departments of Defense and Justice Tuesday offered partial cooperation to Congressional requests and subpoenas to get more information for the investigation of the Fort Hood shooting that left 13 people dead last November.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has been investigating the Fort Hood shootings since a week after the incident. Chairman Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, and the committee's top Republican, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, sought a number of documents and witnesses as part of their investigation but were "stonewalled" with "foot-dragging" by the Obama administration, Lieberman said earlier this month.

On April 19, Lieberman and Collins issued subpoenas to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Attorney General Eric Holder, demanding that they provide the materials the committee wanted by Monday, or respond by Tuesday explaining why they would not grant the request.

"The purpose of the Committee's investigation of the Fort Hood attack is to answer questions that are critical to our government's ability to counter homegrown terrorism," Lieberman and Collins wrote in a letter accompanying the subpoenas.

"Given the warning signs of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan's extremist radicalization and growing hostility toward the U.S. military and the United
States generally, why was he not stopped before he took 13 American lives, and how can we prevent such a tragedy from happening again?" the letter said. "In order to answer those questions, we must assess the information that the U.S. government had prior to the attack and the actions it took in response to that information."

The Justice and Defense Departments replied to the subpoenas Tuesday with a joint letter, saying they will provide some of what was requested, but not everything.

"We are breaking new ground in terms of how we have traditionally cooperated with committees without direct oversight of personnel matters for this department," said Geoff Morrell, chief spokesman for the Pentagon.

The Department of Defense will make available two of four documents subpoenaed by the committee. It will provide the non-public part of the so-called Clark-West report, a Pentagon review of how the Army performed before and after the shootings.

The Pentagon will also allow the whole committee to see the personnel file of Hasan, the only person charged in the shootings. Usually, because of the sensitivity of personnel files, only the leadership of the Senate Armed Services committee is allowed to see Defense Department personnel files, and only those of officers ranked lieutenant colonel and above.

The Defense Department still refuses to give the committee access to any of the witnesses to the shooting or to any investigative summaries by the Army criminal investigators who examined evidence in the shooting.

"That, in the judgment of our attorneys and our career prosecutors, would be a bridge too far," Morrell said. "They felt that could potentially
jeopardize the prosecution of Maj. Hasan. And that's a risk that they, and now the secretary, are not willing to take."

Holder said Tuesday that the Department of Justice would have similiar limits on what it would provide the committee.

"We will certainly follow what we've always done here at the department with regard to people who are involved with litigation, potential witnesses, line agents, line attorneys - those are people who we generally do not make available," Holder said.

The communications director for the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee told CNN the committee was preparing a response to the Justice and Defense Departments' letter.

Hasan has been charged with 13 counts of murder in the November shootings at the Army base in Texas.


Filed under: Fort Hood • Joe Lieberman • Susan Collins
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Future expat

    I think it's hilarious how the same Teabaggers who are now demanding transparency were A-OK with the Bush administration's repeated use of "National Security" and "Executive Privilege" to do whatever they wanted behind closed doors.

    April 27, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  2. Obama the liar

    this administration FEARS Islam.

    April 27, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    So where's their requests for all kinds of information and documentation about the homegrown Hutaree terrorists? Just because nobody died, doesn't mean nothing can be learned from it.

    April 27, 2010 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  4. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Oh Lieberman makes me so much safer now. Fear-mongering exploitation for political points .... Joe is so useful what would we do without him.

    April 27, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  5. Dan

    They offer "compromise"– well the entire affair is due to compromises!!!

    April 27, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  6. Libertarian

    Do we really want our internal military polices put in the spotlight so future terrorists know how to navigate the system and embed themselves in our military?

    I'm sure Obama planned this whole ordeal just like Bush/Cheney planned 911. LOL

    April 27, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  7. chill

    I'd rather not jeopardize this conviction just so Lieberman can come up with legislation that the GOP will Just Say No to anyway.

    April 27, 2010 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  8. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Lieberman and Collins actions could cause a mistrail. Ambition is one thing but stupidity is another in such a high profile case a this and they must not be allowed to intercede until all legal avenues have been followed.

    April 27, 2010 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  9. Tony in Maine

    Holy Joe and Fozzie – whadda pair.

    Why is it so hard for these two to understand that they will compromise (not could, will) an ongoing investigation simply for political gain in a stupid attempt to portray Obama as weak on terrorism.

    Rhetorical question – political gain trumps good governance every time. I'm ashamed of Susan Collins.

    April 27, 2010 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  10. TCM

    Compromise? Hear that fellow vets? Obama's compromising about protecting a muslim terrorist after killing 13 soldiers....

    April 27, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |