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Exclusive: Outside review of massacre at Fort Hood to be filed soon, calling for change at FBI

 

The final independent report on the 2009 Fort Hood massacre will include 18 formal recommendations for change at the FBI, Fox News has learned.

In a July 3 letter to Republican Rep. Frank Wolf, chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees FBI funding, Judge William Webster, who led the independent review, said it would be on FBI Director Robert Mueller's desk no later than July 13.

"The Final Report will exceed 150 single-spaced pages in length and include eighteen (18) formal recommendations for corrective and enhancing measures on matters ranging from FBI policies and operations to information systems infrastructure, review protocols and training."

Mueller tasked the now 88-year-old Webster, a former director of the FBI and CIA, with the review in December 2009. Characterizing his task as a “complex and lengthy assignment,” Webster wrote that his teams focused on the FBI and its more than a hundred Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) and how they “handled and acted on counterterrorism intelligence before and after the shootings ... and the FBI’s remedial measures in the aftermath of Fort Hood.”

A five-month Fox News investigation, which aired on the ongoing series “Fox Files,” showed that the American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki used more than 60 email accounts while under FBI surveillance to connect with his followers, including the accused Fort Hood shooter, Army Maj. Nidal Hasan. Hasan faces a military trial on charges of murdering 13 and wounding more than 32 when he opened fire on the Texas base Nov. 5, 2009.

The information about Hasan’s contact with al-Awlaki, who was killed Sept. 30, 2011, in a CIA-led operation in Yemen, was never shared by the JTTF in Washington, D.C., with army investigators.

In summer 2009, the FBI's JTTF decided not to interview Hasan's Army supervisors because they were concerned about hurting his career. While Hasan’s performance reviews were positive, Fox News confirmed that Hasan openly saw suicide bombings as justified and cited the writings of Usama bin Laden on at least three occasions.

If there was a single point of failure, Hasan's email contact with a known terrorist was never connected to his radical statements as an Army officer and psychiatrist. Hasan’s statements so alarmed his fellow students at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C., that some fled the classroom.

Coming more than a decade after 9/11, Webster's review of the Fort Hood massacre is expected to be seen as a pivotal, outside assessment of whether the FBI has made the transition from a case-driven law enforcement culture where turf wars raged to an intelligence-driven organization that can more fully utilize analysts and share intelligence with other departments, including the military.

In a June 27 letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller, Wolf formally requested that a copy of the Webster Report, in draft or final form, be made available to Congress by July 15.

“I am deeply concerned that as we approach the third anniversary of the Fort Hood attack, this report has still not been released to the Congress or the American people.”

Wolf strongly suggested in the letter that the independent review, and ultimate release of the report, should not be delayed any longer.

“The independent review of this terrorist attack -- which occurred in the first year of the Obama Administration -- may not be released until near the end of his term.  There is no excuse for such an important review to span nearly a full presidential term of office.”

Wolf said both the Clinton and Bush administration ignored warnings before 9/11.

“I fear that now, as was then, the government is not doing enough to learn from past threats and attacks to prevent and prepare for future threats. People died in the attack on Fort Hood. We have to learn from this tragedy.”

Citing his religious beliefs, Hasan is defying Army standards by growing a beard. A motions hearing is scheduled for Friday in advance of his trial Aug. 20.  

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.