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White House won't provide witnesses for Fort Hood hearing

By Ben Pershing
The first public congressional hearing on the Fort Hood attack will not include testimony from any current federal law enforcement, military or intelligence officials because the Obama administration "declined to provide any" such witnesses, according to a Senate committee source.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has released the witness list for its hearing "The Fort Hood Attack: A Preliminary Assessment," scheduled for Thursday at 10 a.m. ET. The list includes four experts on terrorism and intelligence issues: retired Gen. Jack Keane, the former U.S. Army vice chief of staff; Brian Jenkins, a senior advisor at the Rand Corp.; Mitchell Silber, the director of analysis for the New York City Police Department's Intelligence Division; and Juan Zarate, a senior advisor for the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

But the list does not include anyone actively involved in investigating the Fort Hood attack, or anyone who might have been responsible for decisions made by various government agencies before the attack about whether to investigate the shooting suspect, Nidal Hasan. The Senate committee source said HSGAC Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) had hoped to have witnesses from the FBI and the U.S. Army, but was rebuffed in his requests.

Asked for comment Monday, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said: "Tomorrow morning, an inter-agency briefing team will go to the Hill to brief House and Senate leaders and committee chairs and ranking members. This is the latest in a series of engagements with the Hill since the horrific events at Fort Hood, and further evidence of the Administration's commitment to appropriately inform Congress without interfering in the prosecution of this case."

Vietor did not address the specific question of why witnesses would not be provided for Thursday's hearing.

President Obama has already ordered a federal review of the circumstances that led up to the Fort Hood attack, and how government agencies handled intelligence related to Hasan. But in his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday, Obama urged caution on Capitol Hill.

"I know there will also be inquiries by Congress, and there should," Obama said. "But all of us should resist the temptation to turn this tragic event into the political theater that sometimes dominates the discussion here in Washington. The stakes are far too high."

While most lawmakers have said they will wait for the results of the Fort Hood criminal investigation and Obama's announced review before rendering judgment, some have already been critical of the Obama administration's handling of both the prelude to the attack and its aftermath. Rep. Peter Hoekstra (Mich.), the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, has been particularly sharp in his criticism.

Lieberman, for his part, has said the Fort Hood attack appeared to be the work of a "self-radicalized, home-grown terrorist," and he and Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), the panel's top Republican, have vowed to cooperate with the administration if it returns the favor.

"To carry out our investigation, Congress will require the prompt and full cooperation of the Executive Branch -- cooperation that must start as soon as possible," Lieberman and Collins said Saturday. "We totally agree with the President that this inquiry must not turn into 'political theater' and it will not."

Separately, a closed-door Senate Armed Services Committee briefing on the status of the Fort Hood investigation has been postponed, after initially being scheduled for Monday afternoon. That session was scheduled to feature top officials, including Army Secretary John McHugh and Arrny Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey. Committee aides aid the session was postponed only to assure that everyone Senators wanted to hear from could attend, and would likely be rescheduled for later this week.

By Ben Pershing  |  November 16, 2009; 6:03 PM ET
Categories:  Hearing Watch  
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What kid of game is Obama playing. What kid of hearing can take place without the soldiers who were there? Does Obama think this will go away? This terrorist should be fed bread and water and hung.

Posted by: MOMLEE | November 16, 2009 8:26 PM | Report abuse

momlee.. I would say it is a very dangerous game, and I am wondering why congress seems to allowing this steamroller type action to continue. they do have some authority over the administration. wish they would start using it.

Posted by: angryinillinois | November 17, 2009 12:21 AM | Report abuse

I'm with the White House. It'd be smarter if the legal process wasn't tainted by a political one. Congress should investigate, but not until the legal process is complete. (You know, just like under Bush, whose White House didn't comment on anything that was being or ever might be litigated.) At the very least, they should testify at Hasan's trial before they testify before an open congress.

Posted by: repsac3 | November 17, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

A voice of reason (repasc3)among the "intellectuals"

Posted by: aagjr733 | November 17, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

The Administration, with its PC mantra, cannot allow a true investigation to take place; otherwise it would expose the lie that we are not in a "war on terror". The Major will be found to be just a nut case, and no PC bureaucrat (whether Army or civilian) will ever be found guilty of anything.

Posted by: apberusdisvet | November 17, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

what an absurd argument "let the legal process play out". this man shot 30 people. 18 of whom are still alive. we cant take half of those people and have them testify before congress and let the other half testify at trial? thats not even counting the people who saw this guy shooting american soilders but did not get shot themselves for one reason or another.

whatever this is about, its not about legal process. besides, i dont think we need a hearing on the shooting itself as much as the lead up to the shooting (years of lead up) and why no one stood up, or spoke up and said this man was a potential enemy in our midst. its not like terrorism is going to be one of the elements of the offense, the obama administration has already indicated that this wasnt terrorism and so we know no terrorism realted charged will be brought.

Posted by: dummypants | November 17, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

This White house for some reason doesn't want this investigated and a determination of why this terrorist did what he did.I don't think the American people are going to stand for this..

Posted by: ronsuev | November 17, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

It doesn't matter what the POTUS says the shooter is or isn't. He is not in the Judicial arm of government. He is obviously influenced by the enemy and was actually fraternizing with them. He committed a terrorist act after premeditating what he might do. He acted on behalf of the enemy even if it wasn't at their request.

Posted by: basson | November 17, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

I do think what Hasan did was a terrorist act--likely (given the info so far) the product of his own bad (or diseased) thinking, and not tied in any significant way to any organized terrorist groups or movements. I also think it was a war crime, and mass murder, and a tragedy.

None of that alters the fact that Congress should not "convict" this guy, or Bush's/Obama's FBI or Army, before the guy himself is tried in a military (or civilian) court. There's no rush, and there's no need to risk tainting any witness or giving fodder to the defense. Charges involving terrorism have only been ruled out in the minds of right wing partisans, not here in the real world.

I believe there were failures, both in the FBI and in the Army, that go far beyond this PC boogieman that the right keeps waving. It does seem that people failed to act because the guy was a muslim, and they didn't want to appear bigoted against a religion and/or a culture they didn't really understand. But they also failed to act because no one wants to believe that a person they know, a person who enlisted in the armed forces, a fellow soldier, a neighbor, a regular customer, would or could do such a thing. It's human nature, for most of us.

There's no rush. There's time to convict him, and to learn the lessons that the incident can teach us, as well. There's time to do it right, and there is nothing wrong with our doing so.

Posted by: repsac3 | November 17, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

My guess is that the link between Obama or someone in his administration to Hasan is too close to the surface for them to cooperate with any investigation. If the Nidal Hasan of the Uniformed Services University School of Medicine who was on Homeland Security Policy Institute participating in a proceedings report of the HSPI presidential Transition task force April 2008-January 2009, is the same as the Hasan who murdered the 13 people at Fort Hood, then a lot of people need to explain why they aren't admitting they knew him. If you look at the participants, NPR was there, tons of national security people, Edwin Meese lll, ABC News...and no one connected him with the massacre?

Posted by: 4NoParty | November 17, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Refusing to participate in a Congressional investigation is obstruction of justice.

Posted by: johnlloydscharf | November 17, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure that it's refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena that's a problem, rather than not volunteering to sit on a panel before them and be questioned.

Posted by: repsac3 | November 18, 2009 7:17 AM | Report abuse

Obama is dragging his feet because he doesn't want this Radical Muslim Terrorist brought to justice. Nidal Hasan is listed on Page 29 of the Homeland Security Policy Institute's Report dated April 2008-January 2009..."A Proceedings Report of the HSPI Presidential Transition Task Force" Nidal Hasan is listed under the list of Task Force Advisors as: "Nidal Hasan....Uniformed Services University School of Medicine"(2300 Eye Street NW, Suite 721, Washington DC 20037, So, now it's becoming clear why this guy never got reprimande. With all his insults for our military, why was he allowed to be on our Homeland Security Task Force? Our Senators should look at this and ask why the White House is not allowing any Ft. Hood Witnesses at the hearing for this murderer Hasan. The world needs to know this....

Posted by: Meeche1 | November 18, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

The repos are quick to point a finger but they just had 8 useless years to make proper rules and regulations instead all we got was "POLICIES AND CORRUPTION OF THE BUSH ADM"

Posted by: SWAMPYPD | November 18, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

The repos are quick to point a finger but they just had 8 useless years to make proper rules and regulations instead all we got was "POLICIES AND CORRUPTION OF THE BUSH ADM"

Posted by: SWAMPYPD | November 18, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Senator Leahy says that his fellow Senators should vote for the health care bill on moral grounds because the late senator Ted Kennedy would have wanted it.
Senator Ted Kennedy should not have been elected to the Senate after he drove into a pond or some body of water, while drunk driving and left Mary Jo K. submerged in his car to die while he left the scene of the accident so they could not detect the alcohol level in his blood.
What a guy. Let’s all vote for this piece of crap socialist health care bill because Ted would have wanted it and it makes Obama look like he has the backing of the people. According to the polls at least 49% like what he is doing. When this crap bill goes into effect he will be out of office so he cannot be held accountable.

Posted by: nychap44 | November 21, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

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