House, Senate panels ready to investigate Fort Hood shootings

Congressional panels in both chambers will look into the shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, which left 13 dead and at least 30 wounded.
 
Military prosecutors on Thursday charged Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, with 13 initial counts of premeditated murder. Hasan opened fire on a soldier processing center on the Texas base on Nov. 6.
 

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The Senate Armed Services Committee goes first on Monday with a closed-door briefing from Army Chief of Staff, Gen. George Casey, and Army Secretary John McHugh.
 
The Homeland Security Committee will follow up with a public hearing Wednesday on a “preliminary assessment” of the shooting. However, the committee does not have a list of witnesses available and plans to announce them closer to the hearing next week.
 
Meanwhile, the House Armed Services Committee chairman, Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), said he did not want to interfere with the investigations conducted by the Army and the FBI. But his Republican counterpart, Buck McKeon (Calif.), is pushing for a two-part committee investigation to determine whether any steps can be taken to prevent similar incidents and whether commanders failed to notice any warning signs regarding Hasan.
 
The House Homeland Security Committee is holding a hearing on Thursday on reassessing the evolving Al Qaeda threat to the United States. While the hearing was scheduled before the Fort Hood shooting, it will likely address that incident as investigators are working to determine whether Hasan has ties to terrorist groups.
 
In a memorandum sent Thursday to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, and FBI Director Robert Mueller, President Barack Obama requested an inventory and review of files on Hasan that were available before the shooting.
 
The agency heads will submit the preliminary results of their review to Obama's assistant for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, John Brennan, by the end of this month.
 
"I directed an immediate review be initiated to determine how any such intelligence was handled, shared, and acted upon within individual departments and agencies and what intelligence was shared with others," Obama wrote in the memo. 


 
The president said that the review would be conducted in a manner that would not interfere with the criminal investigation into Hasan's actions.

In his weekly radio address Saturday, Obama said he is aware that Congress will pursue its own inquiries, "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," Obama said.

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