Administration ‘Just Not Responding’ to Questions on Fort Hood, Said Vice Chair of Senate Intel Committee
February 11, 2010 - 11:10 AMSen. Kit Bond (R.-Mo.), vice chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, told bloggers on a conference call on Wednesday, Feb. 3, that the administration still had not provided his committee with all the information it had requested on the November attack at Fort Hood.
“They still haven’t come through with all the information that we need,” Sen. Bond said.
Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R.-Mich.), the ranking Republican on the House intelligence committee, issued two statements in January complaining that the administration had not been forthcoming on information about the Fort Hood attack. Hoekstra also pointed to parallels between the Fort Hood attack and the attempted bombing of Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas Day.
On Nov. 5, Maj Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, allegedly killed 13 people at a facility at Fort Hood. Hasan reportedly sent numerous emails to Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Muslim cleric now in Yemen who is believed to be affiliated with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Awlaki told a reporter for al-Jazeera last week that Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian who tried to detonate a suicide bomb on Flight 253, was a student of his.
CNSNews.com asked Sen. Bond on the conference call whether he was satisfied that the administration had fully briefed members of the committee on what it has learned about the incident.
“We have taken a long time to draw it out and I think that we still have got lots more to learn about it,” said Sen. Bond. “It took a long time. They still haven’t come through with all the information that we need.”
CNSNews.com then asked Sen. Bond if he believed the administration was withholding information about the incident from members of the intelligence committee.
“Yes,” said Sen. Bond. “You know, as I said, I tried for a month and a half just to find what had previously been announced publicly, when I asked Director Blair what the recidivism rate was, and he had to wait until John Brennan released it--when they released it to blame Bush for it. That was right before the hearing was the first time we got it. So, yes, there have been problems in the past, but I think the problems are greater. The holding classified--some classified reports that the intelligence committee still has not received.”
Sen. Bond said the administration ought to provide the intelligence committee with a classified report on what it has learned about Maj. Hasan. “There are more questions we asked about the background information on Maj. Hasan. What they did, why they didn’t do it,” said Sen. Bond. “They ought to give us a classified report on that. That would be step one.”
“And thus far, they have not responded to those questions?” CNSNews.com asked.
“No,” said Sen. Bond. “They just aren’t responding. “
In a Jan. 7 statement, Rep. Hoekstra pointed to parallels between the Nov. 5 Fort Hood attack and the attempted Christmas Day bombing of Flight 253 and said the administration needed to provide more information about Fort Hood to Congress and the public.
“It is striking that the same factors and actors involved in the Fort Hood attack seem to be at issue in the attempt to bring down a plane over the city of Detroit,” said Rep. Hoekstra. “I warned after the Fort Hood terrorist attack that we needed tough congressional oversight and hearings to understand the intelligence lapses that happened then to help prevent future attacks.
"The White House still has not shared its Fort Hood report with Congress or the public, but the one thing that seems clear is that the administration did little after it received the report on Nov. 30 of last year,” said Rep. Hoekstra. “Congress needs the analysis of both attacks to fully understand the shortcomings that need to be addressed to help prevent the next attack.
"The Obama administration’s go-it-alone approach after the Fort Hood attack did not work before and it will not work now,” said Hoekstra. “We need tough, independent congressional oversight and hearings to determine the necessary tools, authorities and resources to address the gaps exposed by the Fort Hood and Detroit attacks, and so that our national security apparatus can be forward-leaning in its efforts to detect, disrupt and stop future attacks.”
Rep. Hoekstra visited Yemen on Jan. 1. In an opening statement to Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair at a Jan. 13 intelligence committee hearing on the attempted bombing of Flight 245, Rep. Hoekstra told the DNI that the administration had not been sharing sufficient information about the Fort Hood attack with Congress and that on his trip to Yemen the U.S. ambassador there had told him that he had been instructed by the administration not to inform the congressman of specific intelligence operations there. Rep. Hoekstra said this was the first time this had ever happened to him.
“Director Blair, you have repeatedly indicated your willingness to help in the process of congressional oversight, yet the White House continues to put up roadblocks and hurdles to prevent us from getting information or answers to even basic questions,” said Rep. Hoekstra. “I am on the public record for stating that I do not believe the problem is the Director of National Intelligence or the Intelligence Community, but is has been the absolute refusal of the Obama Administration to meet the requirement that Congress be kept fully and currently informed. Unfortunately, although I appreciate your efforts to keep us informed, the fact that the White House is directing you to do otherwise on critical national security issues is extraordinarily disappointing.”
“The smoking gun here was Fort Hood,” said Hoekstra. “The White House review on that attack was completed on November 30th. Despite our requests, the Administration has yet to brief us on the findings of that report. This is inexcusable and contradicts the many promises from you and the Intelligence Community to be brief us in a timely manner.
“What could we have learned in the wake of that terrorist attack that could have prevented this attack? There are striking similarities to both the Fort Hood attack and the attack aboard Flight 253,” said Rep. Hoekstra. “You’ve got the same actor, Awlaki, associated someway in both of these attacks.
“There appears to be a lack of urgency on part of this Administration,” said Rep. Hoekstra. “We need to be forward leaning in trying to figure out al-Qa’ida, and we can’t stop at the Fort Hood attack or the Flight 253 attack. This is about detecting, disrupting,
and preventing the next attack.
“In the first time ever, a U.S. Ambassador, the U.S. Ambassador to Yemen, stated he was directed by the Administration not to brief me on specific intelligence operations,”said Rep. Hoekstra. “Other embassy officials were given similar instructions.”
Here is a partial transcript of Sen. Kit Bond’s conference call with bloggers:
Terry Jeffrey: Sen. Bond, Congressman Hoekstra, who is the ranking Republican on the House intelligence committee, has complained that the administration has not been forthcoming in fully briefing him and Republicans on that committee, or members of that committee, on the results of its investigation of what went on with the Fort Hood shooting. Are you satisfied that the administration at this point has come forward and told members of the intelligence committee all that it knows and has fully briefed you and other committee members on that incident.
Senate Intelligence Vice Chairman Kit Bond (R.-Mo.): I think that, you know, we have taken a long time to draw it out and I think that we still have got lots more to learn about it. It took a long time. They still haven’t come through with all the information that we need.
Jeffrey: Do you believe they are withholding information from members of the intelligence committee about what they know?
Sen. Bond: Yes. You know, as I said, I tried for a month and a half just to find what had previously been announced publicly, when I asked Director Blair what the recidivism rate was, and he had to wait until John Brennan released it--when they released it to blame Bush for it. That was right before the hearing was the first time we got it. So, yes, there have been problems in the past, but I think the problems are greater. The holding classified, some classified reports that the intelligence committee still has not received.
Jeffrey: What would you like to see the administration do now in terms of being forthcoming in informing people on the intelligence committee about Fort Hood? What do you want them to do?
Sen. Bond: There are more questions we asked about the background information on Maj. Hasan. What they did, why they didn’t do it. They ought to give us a classified report on that. That would be step one.
Jeffrey: You asked for those, you asked those questions in writing, senator? Was that a letter that was sent to the director of national intelligence or someone in the administration?
Sen. Bond: We have asked them several times, and I can’t, I don’t have—I think in phone calls and in person, primarily.
Jeffrey: And thus far, they have not responded to those questions?
Sen. Bond: No. They just aren’t responding.