The FBI underestimated the threat posed by Major Nidal Hasan, who opened fire on soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, on Nov. 5, 2009, killing 13 and wounding dozens, according to a long-awaited report released Thursday. In late 2008, San Diego FBI agents who intercepted an alarming email from Hasan forwarded the case to agents in Washington, where Hasan was then stationed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. But instead of interviewing Hasan or his commanding officers, FBI agents conducted a brief investigation and determined Hasan was not a threat, reports the Austin American-Statesman.
Not only did Washington agents conclude that Hasan was conducting research on behalf of the Army, they worried that an interview would “harm Hasan’s career.” And pursuing Hasan, a Muslim Army officer, would be “politically sensitive,” according the 173-page report overseen by former FBI and CIA director William Webster. Commissioned in the weeks after the shooting, the report contains new details of the FBI’s bungled investigation of Hasan. So tepid was the Washington response to Hasan’s communications that agents in San Diego thought Hasan might be a confidential informant the FBI was trying to protect. Hasan faces the death penalty in a court-martial scheduled to begin at Fort Hood on Aug. 20.