Las Vegas Sun

December 15, 2017

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SUN EDITORIAL:

Preventing massacres

Fort Hood shooting reveals possible lack of communication among agencies

The shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, last week that claimed the lives of 13 U.S. soldiers and wounded 29 has caused elected officials and government agencies to confront some of the same troubling questions that arose after 9/11.

Those questions have to do with possible cracks in intelligence gathering and the extent to which federal agencies share information that could be critical in preventing a massacre.

The Associated Press and The Washington Post reported Wednesday that there is plenty of finger-pointing over whether the Defense Department and joint terrorism task forces overseen by the FBI missed opportunities to act on information regarding the suspected Fort Hood shooter, Army Major Nidal Hasan, before the shooting occurred.

A point of dispute is whether the task forces, which became aware of e-mails Hasan shared with a radical imam who encouraged Muslims to kill U.S. troops in Iraq, forwarded that information to the Defense Department. Some government sources insist the information was shared but a senior defense official has issued strong denials.

Another troubling development is whether the FBI was somehow restrained from investigating Hasan after he purchased a weapon and allegedly posted information about suicide bombs on a Web site. It has also been reported that Hasan made fellow military personnel at Walter Reed Army Medical Center uncomfortable after addressing the subject of Muslim soldiers who are conflicted because of their religion.

President Barack Obama did the right thing by ordering the FBI and Defense Department to investigate this debacle. It is also good to see that the Senate plans to do its own investigating.

The 9/11 attacks led to some reforms that were designed to encourage better communication among agencies and make it easier for them to conduct investigations. But the shooting makes it clear that further improvements are needed.

The Obama administration, Congress and government agencies should arrive at solutions where information is gathered, shared and acted upon in a timely manner to prevent future senseless killings.

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