Obama Stonewalling Senate Fort Hood Investigation
President Obama is refusing to allow serving police, military, or intelligence officials to testify before the Senate investigation into the Fort Hood massacre.
The first public congressional hearing on the Fort Hood attack will not include testimony from any current federal law enforcement, military or intelligence officials because the Obama administration “declined to provide any” such witnesses, according to a Senate committee source.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has released the witness list for its hearing “The Fort Hood Attack: A Preliminary Assessment,” scheduled for Thursday at 10 a.m. ET. The list includes four experts on terrorism and intelligence issues: retired Gen. Jack Keane, the former U.S. Army vice chief of staff; Brian Jenkins, a senior advisor at the Rand Corp.; Mitchell Silber, the director of analysis for the New York City Police Department’s Intelligence Division; and Juan Zarate, a senior advisor for the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
But the list does not include anyone actively involved in investigating the Fort Hood attack, or anyone who might have been responsible for decisions made by various government agencies before the attack about whether to investigate the shooting suspect, Nidal Hasan. The Senate committee source said HSGAC Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) had hoped to have witnesses from the FBI and the U.S. Army, but was rebuffed in his requests.
Asked for comment Monday, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said: “Tomorrow morning, an inter-agency briefing team will go to the Hill to brief House and Senate leaders and committee chairs and ranking members. This is the latest in a series of engagements with the Hill since the horrific events at Fort Hood, and further evidence of the Administration’s commitment to appropriately inform Congress without interfering in the prosecution of this case.” Vietor did not address the specific question of why witnesses would not be provided for Thursday’s hearing.
President Obama has already ordered a federal review of the circumstances that led up to the Fort Hood attack, and how government agencies handled intelligence related to Hasan. But in his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday, Obama urged caution on Capitol Hill. “I know there will also be inquiries by Congress, and there should,” Obama said. “But all of us should resist the temptation to turn this tragic event into the political theater that sometimes dominates the discussion here in Washington. The stakes are far too high.”
I agree with the president that it would be better for Congress to stay out of this until the internal investigations are complete. The incident just occurred and there’s no evidence of which I’m aware that the executive agencies in question aren’t doing their job appropriately and expeditiously. And, let’s face it, these sorts of Congressional hearings usually turn into occasions for grandstanding.
All that said, there’s simply no question but that the Senate has every right to conduct a circus if it so desires. It’s a co-equal branch of government and has the power to exercise oversight over executive agencies. The president can deny polite requests. If it wishes, however, the Senate can simply issue subpoenas and force the testimony of any government employee aside from select members of the president’s personal staff.
The ball’s in Lieberman’s court.