The FBI continues to work closely with the Department of the Army and others in the ongoing investigation into the November 5, 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas. Given the pending nature of the case, we must continue to protect the ongoing investigation and the integrity of the prosecution.
Immediately after the tragedy, FBI Director Robert Mueller ordered a preliminary review of the FBI’s actions, as well any relevant policies and procedures that may have guided the FBI’s actions before the shooting. In addition, the Director asked for recommendations as to what changes should be made as a result of that review.
Also, on December 8, 2009, Director Mueller asked Judge William H. Webster to conduct a more comprehensive, independent review of FBI policies, practices, and actions. That review is currently underway. The goal of these reviews is to look at both the actions of individuals involved and the systems in place at the time of the tragic events at Ft. Hood and while ensuring that investigators have the tools they need to effectively carry out their responsibilities in today’s evolving threat environment. The paramount concern in this process is to make sure that the systems and policies that are in place support public safety and national security.
While the outside review being led by Judge Webster continues, as a result of the internal review, the FBI identified four areas for immediate adjustment and improvement:
Protocols with the Department of Defense (DOD)
Although information-sharing has dramatically improved since September 2001, there is still room for improvement in certain areas, especially given the changing nature of the terrorist threat, and the need to constantly recalibrate approaches and response. Working with DOD, the FBI has formalized a process for centrally notifying DOD of FBI investigations involving military personnel. This should streamline information-sharing and coordination between the FBI and all components of DOD, where appropriate, and as permitted by law. Improved processes for exchanging information will help ensure that FBI task forces, agents, and analysts have all available information to further their investigations.
Additional Levels of Review
The FBI determined that intelligence collected in connection with certain threats–particularly those that affect multiple equities inside and outside the FBI–should have a supplemental layer of review at the Headquarters level. This redundancy in the review process will limit the risk of human error by bringing a broader perspective to the review. In this way, the FBI should have a better institutional understanding of such threats.
During the course of the internal review, the FBI identified information technology improvements that should be made to our systems. Those improvements, which are being engineered, should strengthen our agents’ and analysts’ ability to sift through information by automatically showing certain connections that are critical to uncovering threats.
Training for Members of Joint Terrorism Task Forces
Expanded and strengthened training addressing legal restrictions which govern the retention and dissemination of information. The FBI also is increasing training for members of JTTFs on the use of FBI’s databases to better ensure JTTF members know how to maximize access to all available information and to best utilize existing tools to identify and link critical information.
The above changes reflect the findings of the FBI’s internal review, conducted in the weeks following the shooting. Judge Webster’s review is continuing and will evaluate additional areas, including whether current laws and policies strike an appropriate balance between protecting individuals’ privacy rights and civil liberties while detecting threats. The findings in the DOD review likely will also identify other areas that can be strengthened.