April 19th, 2010
04:54 PM ET
13 years ago

Senate committee subpoenas gov't over Fort Hood shooting


"The purpose of the Committee's investigation . . . is to answer questions that are critical to our government's ability to counter homegrown terrorism," Sens. Lieberman and Collins wrote in a letter accompanying the subpoenas. . (Photo Credit: Getty Images/File)

Washington (CNN) - Two top senators on the Homeland Security Committee served the government with subpoenas Monday for witnesses and documents involving the 2009 shooting attack at Fort Hood, Texas, that killed 13 people.

Committee chairman Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Connecticut, and ranking Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said the Defense Department and Justice Department had so far failed to provide information about the shootings sought by the panel.

Maj. Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, has been charged with 13 counts of murder in the November shootings.

"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 subpoenas give the two government departments until 10 a.m. on April 26 to provide the requested information.

Last week, when the senators warned they might file subpoenas, Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Les Melnyk told CNN that Defense and Justice departments had sent a letter to the committee explaining they had cooperated as much as they could. "Disclosure of some of the material you requested could compromise the pending prosecution," said the letter to the committee from Elizabeth King, assistant secretary of Defense for legislative affairs and Ronald Welch, her counterpart at the Justice Department.

The letter asked Lieberman and Collins to hold off issuing subpoenas in the case. In their statement Monday, Lieberman and Collins said they had no choice. "Our efforts have been met with delay, the production of little that was not already publicly available, and shifting reasons why the departments are withholding the documents and witnesses that we have requested," the senators said. "Unfortunately, it is impossible for us to avoid reaching the conclusion that the departments simply do not want to cooperate with our investigation."

Collins was upset that two former Defense Department officials who spearheaded an investigation of the Fort Hood shootings for Secretary Robert Gates were given access to materials that Congress has been denied.

Much of materials requested by the Senate committee are also sought by Hasan's lawyer, attorney John Galligan.

Galligan said last week he was "disconcerted" by Lieberman's statement at a Thursday news conference that effectively declared Hasan guilty of the shootings. Such a statement from a senator could prejudice Hasan's ability to get a fair trial, Galligan told CNN.

Filed under: Fort Hood • Homeland Security
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. phoenix86

    Unfortunately, the government will never admit that this happened because of political correctness gone overboard.

    April 19, 2010 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  2. rdepontb

    Your "story" contains no details over a situation that's been brewing over several weeks at least. The "government"-the current Administration-has refused to provide the HSGA Committee-with information the government holds on the lead-up to the Fort Hood massacre. For some reason, those in charge of security there are being protected from investigation. This comes at the cost of poor protection of the public, especially of those officers and enlisted personnel who serve today in similar situations to those gunned down by Maj. Hassan in November 2009.

    Why are these others being protected? If there is a larger on-going investigation that seeks to uncover related mayhem and murder before it occurs, then the Committee should be informed of that, with supporting evidence, so that they can back off of a possibly damaging case. Otherwise, we need to pursue justice in this case, correct the situation so it doesn't happen again, and allow everyone to carry on their important business.

    April 19, 2010 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  3. Terry From West Texas

    Translation: election time is coming. We want to make some stirring speeches and scold government employees in front of the cameras. We could, of course, wait for the FBI investigation to run its course and for the courts to decide who did what. But, we have a lot of important things to do and we don't want to do any of them, so we'd rather "investigate."

    Don't worry, nothing will come of it.

    April 19, 2010 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  4. D.

    Very Good, we have a bunch of know-nothing these days in the executive branch who are worried about their "image" upon faking which they got elected!

    April 19, 2010 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  5. Tired Ant

    God forbid... we can't actually say he was a "m-word" in spite of the fact he stood over people shouting "Allahu Akbar!" as he killed them.

    Nothing to see here.
    Move along.
    These aren't the droids you're looking for.
    This is a religion of peace, don't you know?

    Make no mistake... had Hasan been a white male, we'd STILL be hearing about his "angry conservative christian beliefs."

    April 19, 2010 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  6. Leslie

    Lieberman and Collins need to clean out their ears, the material they requested could compromise the pending prosecution!

    April 19, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  7. Rush To Judgement

    Strip Lieberman of this post.

    April 19, 2010 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  8. LouAz

    The sole purpose of these subpoenas is to make political headlines for these two grandstanding Senators.

    April 19, 2010 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  9. Rickster

    The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows that 29% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty percent (40%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -11.

    April 19, 2010 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  10. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    Homegrown terrorists are often more dangerous than the foreign ones.

    April 19, 2010 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  11. hobart

    Hey Joe, if you're really so hot and bothered about terrorism, how about investigating all the recent acts of domestic terrorism (i.e. carrying machine guns to political rallies, threatening politicians in public and in private, posting hit lists on websites, committing acts of vandalism, shooting up peoples offices, cutting the gas lines to their houses)? How about investigating the conspiracies behind these acts? You know, all those politicians (e.g. Michelle Bachmann) and pundits (e.g. Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh) who lie and preach hatred and incite violence 24/7/365? Is it too in your face to notice?

    Oh, I get it. You're only interested if the terrorists are Muslim, but not if they're good old home grown terrorists like Tim McVeigh.

    April 19, 2010 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  12. JMikey54

    How do you give a fair trial to a murderer when he is obviously guilty? You do the best you can and then execute the scumbag. Give the congress what it is asking for you are not going to make the guy look any more guilty than he already is.

    April 19, 2010 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  13. ron

    Why does this moron still have a chairmanship? Harry, if you want to win Nevada, grow a pair and kick this clown to the streets!

    April 19, 2010 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  14. crooks

    It's about time for Lieberman to retire and hang out with that old crook, liar, cheater, corrupt and straight theft express McCain.

    April 19, 2010 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  15. GI Joe

    Mess up the trial and then yell - the senators cannot keep secrets. Especially LIEberman.

    April 19, 2010 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  16. Terry in Georgia

    These answers are long overdue. Sens. Lieberman and Collins are no security threat to Americans - absolutely none!! Their intent is to find answers as to how this massacre could have happened and whether there were warning signs that should have alerted officials in advance of the attack on a U.S. military base.

    Could there be any possible (legitimate) reason to not cooperate with these requests? Unless someone is trying to cover for a radical jihadist with possible ties to another radical Islamic terror suspect, my opinion suggests the information should be immediately provided to these senators. It is past time to shed some light on this case. Comply with the subpoenas.

    April 19, 2010 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  17. Livin' the good life

    I always thought you were for or against. In LIEbermans case, he's just "whereever he wants to be at the moment". He is like a 2-faced person. One minute, he...oh what the hell,...he's useless! Get HIM outta here!..Beau Colby

    April 19, 2010 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  18. Tawally Obando

    This is Obama transparency at its best. And you bought the transparency routine. How dumb can you be?

    April 19, 2010 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  19. Joe Smith

    No hope for cooperation. Senator Collins is not a loyal American.

    April 19, 2010 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  20. Auntie Sam Height

    Why would Congress entrust Israel-firster Jew Lieberman with this task? He's hardly impartial when it comes to Muslim affairs. Deicidal lowlife.

    April 19, 2010 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  21. Future expat

    If you get a chuckle out of other people's mental instabilities, then I suggest you stop by the FOX News forums and check out some of the insane conspiracy theories they're weaving over there.

    Also, why is "pending investigation" not a good enough excuse for conservatives? "National security" or "executive privilege" were good enough to get them to look the other way "no questions asked" during the Bush years.

    April 19, 2010 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  22. ThinkAgain

    Can you imagine how upset the GOP would be if those they subpoened agreed to testify only under the condition their testimony was not under oath and no recording devices except manual note-taking was allowed?

    You know, like when Bush and Cheney were asked to testify about 9/11?

    April 19, 2010 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  23. ThinkAgain

    People need to remember that issues surrounding Maj. Hasan first surfaced under GW Bush's watch .... and nothing was done ....

    April 19, 2010 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  24. Jenn, Philadelphia

    How can anything they've uncovered being given to the Senators compromise their prosecution? There is nothing they could present at trial that wouldn't have to be provided to the defense as well. The only thing they're trying to hide is how many warning signs were missed while they tried not to "offend" the terrorist by politically correct.

    April 19, 2010 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  25. Barbara

    Just perhaps.... because their is ongoing investigation and a trial that needs to be handled legally, without prejudicing a potential juror, the powers that be feel, and rightly so, that details sensitive to the case need not be public record at this time.

    April 19, 2010 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
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