Senators: Army needs better info about soldiers

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., and ranking member Susan Collins, R-Maine, on Tuesday said the Army needs to update its regulations governing the collection and sharing of personnel information, a conclusion they reached after a classified briefing with senior Defense Department officials about last month's shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas.

Lieberman and Collins said the Army appeared to have insufficient information sharing practices concerning Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, who has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the Nov. 5 killings.

Lieberman said it is time for the Army to upgrade its personnel policies, but added the military must do so in a sensitive way so as to not drive out Islamic soldiers. Army personnel regulations have not been updated since the Cold War, he added.

Collins said the military has policies in place to help detect personnel who might hold white supremacist views. But she said the policies are inadequate for rooting out personnel who subscribe to radical Islamic ideology.

Both senators said they expect a briefing later this week on what might have gone wrong with information sharing about Hasan among officials with the Justice Department's Joint Terrorism Task Force, which is responsible for coordinating the flow of intelligence for dozens of agencies.

While the Army had collected information on Hasan that was passed to the task force, task force personnel determined it did not rise to the level of a threat.

Lieberman said the key questions he wants answered include what was the quality of the judgment made inside the task force, what kind of information sharing occurred between the task force and the Army, and what would have been learned if more information was shared.

But Lieberman and Collins also expressed frustration that the Obama administration has been slow to brief their committee on the investigation into the shooting, and slow to make administration witnesses available to their staff for interviews.

Collins said the administration appears to be "slow walking" the incident when it comes to keeping Congress informed. But Lieberman said an agreement apparently has been reached with the administration to interview officials.

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