Senators Carry Out Their Threat to Subpoena Fort Hood Evidence

The leaders of a key Senate oversight committee are carrying out a threat they issued last week. Sen. Joe Lieberman, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and Sen. Susan Collins, the committee's ranking Republican, sent subpoenas to Attorney General Eric Holder and Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Monday, demanding that they hand over documents and other information related to the Nov. 5 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas.

Lieberman and Collins said in a press release that after trying for five months to get the Obama administration to turn over the material voluntarily, they had "no other option but to issue subpoenas to fulfill their Constitutional responsibility." In a cover letter with the subpoenas, Lieberman and Collins said the purpose of their committee's inquiry is "to answer questions that are critical to our government's ability to counter homegrown terrorism … Given the warning signs of [accused Fort Hood gunman] Major Nidal Malik Hasan's extremist radicalization and growing hostility toward the U.S. military and the United States generally, why was he not stopped before he took thirteen American lives, and how can we prevent such a tragedy from happening again? In order to answer those questions, we must assess the information that the U.S. Government had prior to the attack and the actions it took in response to that information."

The senators complain that their efforts to obtain information from the administration "have been met with delay, the production of little that was not already publicly available, and shifting reasons why the departments are withholding the documents and witnesses that we have requested." They add: "Unfortunately, it is impossible for us to avoid reaching the conclusion that the departments simply do not want to cooperate with our investigation." The subpoenas demand that the requested material be turned over to Capitol Hill within a week.

Pentagon and other administration officials have claimed that they have been cooperating with congressional Fort Hood investigators. But according to Collins and Lieberman, some administration representatives have expressed concern that turning over witnesses or other evidence in the case could compromise continuing efforts to prosecute him for the shooting spree in which 13 died and more than 30 were injured.

As Declassified reported last week, the material sought by the committee includes Major Hassan's personnel file, as well as access to witnesses and documents regarding Hasan's alleged communications with the notorious American-born jihadist preacher Anwar al-Awlaki. Currently a fugitive in Yemen, Awlaki recently became what is believed to be the first U.S. citizen on the list of terrorist operatives the CIA is officially authorized to kill (if they can find him). Awlaki has said publicly that he exchanged e-mail correspondence with Hasan over a span of roughly a year before the Fort Hood shootings.