Extremism an internal threat, says Pentagon

WASHINGTON — The military remains vulnerable to another Fort Hood-like massacre with religious radicalization on the rise and too little attention being paid to internal threats, senior Pentagon officials said Friday.

An internal investigation into the shooting at the Texas Army post in November found that several officers failed to use "appropriate judgment and standards" in overseeing the career of Army Maj. Nidal Hasan and that their actions should be investigated immediately.

Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, has been charged with killing 13 people.

"I would ask all commanders and leaders at every level to make an effort to look beyond their day-to-day tasks and be attuned to personnel who may be at risk or pose a danger," said Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Separately, the FBI said it would revise its own procedures to make sure that when it investigates a member of the military, it notifies the Pentagon. In the Hasan case, a local joint terrorism task force run by the FBI with some military personnel examined Hasan but did not alert the Defense Department about the investigation.

The FBI also says it will increase training for task force members to search bureau databases better when conducting investigations.

Lawmakers, including Rep. Ike Skelton, the Missouri Democrat who is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, called the findings unacceptable.

"We go to great lengths to keep our troops safe in overseas theaters of combat; when they return home, we cannot let our guard down," said Cornyn, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

A separate White House assessment concluded that the government does not do enough to share information on "disaffected individuals" and that closer scrutiny of some information is needed by intelligence and law enforcement officials.

A particular worry is "self-radicalization" by individuals seeking out extremist views, said Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"There is clearly more and more of that going on, and how much of it we have in the military is something that we ought to really understand," Mullen said.

According to two officials familiar with the case, as many as eight Army officers could face discipline for failing to do anything when Hasan displayed erratic behavior early in his military career. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because that information has not been publicly released.

The officers supervised Hasan when he was a medical student and during his early work as an Army psychiatrist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.