WASHINGTON — The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold hearings beginning Thursday as part of an investigation into whether what some have called a “homegrown terrorist attack” at Fort Hood Army Base in Texas this month could have been prevented.
Thirteen are dead and dozens were injured when Maj. Nadal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, allegedly opened fire on Nov. 5.
Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., held a press conference Wednesday to preview the hearings. Lieberman, the committee’s chairman, and Collins, its top Republican, focused on whether the guidelines for sharing information among government agencies should be changed to prevent future attacks.
Lieberman said after the investigation is finished, the committee will provide a report and recommendations based on its findings.
Collins said that congressional investigation after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon revealed that if information had been coordinated among agencies, the country could have been more prepared for the attack or even prevented it.
“Vital information was scattered throughout the government, confined by agency silos, that might have prevented the death and destruction of that terrible day, if only the dots had been connected,” she said. “Once again, in the wake of mass murder, we must confront a troubling question. Was this, once again, a failure to con-nect the dots?”
“It’s a fair question to ask what those [agencies] know,” she said.
Thursday’s hearing will “examine the threat of homegrown Islamic extremism and its history of targeting the military,” Lieberman said. Witnesses will include former Army and Department of Homeland Security personnel, as well as representatives of the New York City Police Department and two think tanks, the Center for Strategic and International Studies and RAND.
Since 2006, the committee has held 11 hearings on “violent Islamist extremism” and “homegrown terrorist threats.”
Lieberman said that the shooting at Fort Hood “was a terrorist attack, the most destructive terrorist attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001.”
Lieberman said he supports the separate criminal investigations of Hasan and the Fort Hood shooting that are also being conducted. “I look forward to their outcome and have no intention of interfering with them in any way, shape or form. But that does not mean that the rest of us, including the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, should just sit back and watch,” Lieberman said.
“We are not interested in political theater. We are interested in getting the facts and correcting the system so that our government can provide the best homeland security possible for the American people,” he said.”