WASHINGTON — A Senate committee on Thursday opened the first public hearings into the Fort Hood shootings, with several legislators asserting that the incident in which 13 people were killed was a terrorist attack by a homegrown extremist who may have slipped past law enforcement and military authorities…
At the Congressional hearings, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, a Connecticut independent who is chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said that the Nov. 5 shootings allegedly carried out by Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, was a “homegrown terrorist attack” and that law enforcement and military agencies may have failed to act appropriately…
But Mr. Lieberman’s hearing made only limited headway because the Obama administration has refused his requests for witnesses from the F.B.I. and Defense Department. Mr. Lieberman said he had spoken with Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Mr. Gates, who told him they would cooperate with his inquiry, but did not want to compromise the criminal investigation.
As a result, Mr. Lieberman proceeded with several non-government experts and former officials, including Frances Fragos Townsend, formerly the homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush. She expressed concern that “political correctness,” and fear of intruding on Major Hasan’s free speech rights, may have interfered with the sharing of information earlier this year, when an F.B.I.-led counterterrorism team examined his e-mail exchanges with Anwar al-Awlaki, a well-known radical cleric, but found nothing amiss.
The administration has irritated some lawmakers by trying to delay their inquiries into the shootings, though some committees have postponed investigations, such as the Senate Armed Services Committee. Instead, officials from the Army and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have provided closed-door briefings for some lawmakers.
Military and law enforcement agencies are also conducting their own internal inquiries…
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