The military must make sure supervisors have access to soldiers' personnel records and be aware of signs of potential workplace violence, the Defense Department said Friday in its final report on the Fort Hood shootings.
The report's recommendations address some government failures and other problems uncovered in the Pentagon investigation launched after the Nov. 5 shootings that left 13 dead and dozens injured on the Texas Army post.
Soon after the Pentagon report's January release, Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered a comprehensive weapons policy for military bases and addressed other pressing issues.
The Defense Department report released Friday addresses the remaining matters in the Pentagon report. But it also says more studies are necessary in certain areas, because medical and mental-health screening policies "do not provide a comprehensive assessment of violence indicators" and another policy "lacks the clarity necessary to help commanders distinguish appropriate religious practices from those that might indicate a potential for violence or self-radicalization."
The report's recommendations include improving communications between government agencies and military installations regarding potential threats, and expanding military bases' emergency response capabilities.
"These initiatives will significantly improve the department's ability to mitigate internal threats, ensure force protection, enable emergency response, and provide care for victims and families," Gates wrote in the report.
An Army psychiatrist, Maj. Nidal Hasan, has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. In October he faces an Article 32 hearing, similar to a civilian grand jury proceeding, in which a judge will hear witness testimony to determine whether the case should go to trial.
Hasan's attorney, John Galligan, said Friday that the Defense Department's report is vague.
"This whole report is designed to tell people we need to start looking for internal threats, but it doesn't say what those threats are," Galligan said Friday from his office near Fort Hood, about 120 miles south of Fort Worth. "The idea of looking inward for threats calls into question people's privacy and constitutional rights."
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo., said he was optimistic that the revised policies in the report "will improve the safety of our force in measurable ways for years to come."
The report addresses the two-month Pentagon investigation that found numerous problems, including discrepancies between Hasan's performance and his personnel records. Hasan was described as a loner with lazy work habits and a fixation on his Muslim religion, and he had been promoted to major based on an incomplete personnel file, investigators found.
Separately, the FBI has said it would revise its own procedures to make sure it notifies the Pentagon when it investigates a member of the military. In the Hasan case, a local joint terror task force run by the FBI with some military personnel examined Hasan but did not alert the Defense Department.
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