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Pentagon will investigate Ft. Hood shooting rampage, Defense secretary says

Robert Gates announces the start of a comprehensive review of events leading up to the Nov. 5 shootings. Military psychiatrist Nadal Malik Hasan is accused of killing 13.

November 19, 2009|By Julian E. Barnes

Reporting from Washington — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today announced the start of a sweeping Pentagon review of events leading up to the Ft. Hood rampage, a probe that will examine whether military officials could have taken more aggressive preemptive action against the accused killer and, if so, why they didn't, officials said today.

Gates at a news briefing said he was appointing a pair of retired Defense officials to lead the probe, former Army Secretary Togo West and former Navy chief Vernon Clark.

In addition to asking for a review of the events leading up to the shooting, Gates seek recommendations on how best to prevent similar incidents in the future. The review likely will look at weapons policies on military bases as well as procedures for disciplining or treating personnel who exhibit the kind of aberrant behavior that Hasan allegedly showed.

Maj. Nadal Malik Hasan is accused of killing 13 people in a Nov. 5 rampage at Ft. Hood. Since the shooting, former co-workers and documents have suggested that Hasan had evolved into a personally troubled and radical Islamic extremist while serving as a military psychiatrist.

Hasan received repeated warnings about his poor work at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he was a psychiatrist. He also was admonished for proselytizing after pressing others to accept his view of Islam.

Federal law enforcement officials and the Pentagon are struggling to explain why signs of trouble were missed or not fully investigated, such as e-mails between Hasan and a radical cleric in Yemen.

The 45-day military review will be done alongside an investigation ordered earlier by President Obama into federal policies and a likely series of congressional probes. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is holding a hearing today to ask former government officials and experts what they believe went wrong in the Ft. Hood case.

In launching the new review, Gates is adhering to his practice of appointing former Defense officials to investigate the military's shortcomings. Most recently, he tapped a former Defense secretary to lead a panel on the military's failure to properly track and secure nuclear-related material.

julian.barnes@latimes.com

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