August 1, 2012
Rep. Frank Wolf’s (R-VA) prepared statement at a hearing of the Subcommittee on Commerce-Justice-Science regarding the final report of the William H. Webster Commission on the FBI, Counterterrorism Intelligence, and the events at Fort Hood, Texas on November 5, 2009:
Today’s hearing is on the Final Report of the William H. Webster Commission on the FBI, Counterterrorism Intelligence, and the Events at Fort Hood, Texas. I would like to welcome the witness, Mark Giuliano, the FBI’s Executive Assistant Director for National Security. Thank you for your appearance today.
On November 5, 2009, United States Army Major Nidal Hasan entered the Fort Hood deployment center carrying two pistols. He shouted “God is great” in Arabic, and opened fire, killing thirteen people and injuring forty-two others. Hasan is awaiting military trial for thirteen counts of premeditated murder and thirty-two counts of attempted murder.
The Webster Commission Report was issued publicly on July 19. The report includes extensive factual findings on the FBI’s counterterrorism authorities, programs and systems, as well as specifics on the FBI investigation of Anwar al-Aulaqi, and the assessment of Nidal Hasan.
The report analyzes the Bureau’s actions, and includes 18 recommendations for policy, procedural and other actions.
After reading the report, I am concerned that there were warning signs, and that with more aggressive investigation, there is a chance that this incident could have been prevented. I am further concerned that the reason for less aggressive investigation may have been political sensitivities in the Washington Field Office, and maybe even the FBI’s own investigating guidelines.
An active duty member of the military communicating with a known radicalizer and recruiter should have been taken more seriously than it was. The report shows that the San Diego field office believed that at the time, as is shown by their unusual reaction to how the lead was handled by the Washington Field Office.
While the Commission found that the decision not to interview Hasan was flawed, I am concerned that the current FBI guidelines and culture made this the path of least resistance. The Webster Commission makes no recommendations on changing the FBI’s Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG), but if these guidelines were indeed followed in this case, and that failed to prevent all these deaths and injuries, it may be worthwhile to question whether the guidelines themselves are a problem. We want to understand what took place and ensure that agents are empowered to prevent similar attacks in the future.
I will also have questions based on the report’s findings and recommendations, and what steps have been taken and will be taken to improve counterterrorism assessments and investigations. Several of these recommendations have resource implications, which we will want to consider in terms of FY13 Appropriations.
Finally, I am concerned that the FBI may not have provided the Commission with a full accounting of its prior interactions with Aulaqi, including the notable omission of Aulaqi’s return to the U.S. in October 2002 when the FBI dropped an outstanding warrant for his arrest.
Before I recognize you to present your testimony, I would like to recognize my colleague, ranking Minority Member Mr. Fattah for any comments he would like to make.