Fort Hood Intel Lapse Mirrors Detroit Case

Anwar al-Awlaki, Abdulmutallab, Hasan, email

Less than a month after major Nidal Hasan allegedly killed 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, the Pentagon's top intelligence officer sent the White House a report detailing an earlier failure to connect the dots. It reads like a dress rehearsal for the Detroit bomber case, reports CBS News chief national security correspondent David Martin.

Special Report: The Christmas Day Terror Attack

According to that still-classified report, the terrorism task force responsible for determining whether Hasan posed a threat never saw all 18 e-mails he exchanged with that radical Yemeni cleric Awlaki whose communications were being monitored under a court ordered wiretap.

After the Washington task force decided Hasan was not dangerous, it never asked to see his subsequent communications with Alwaki.

"I think it's a real problem that you didn't have in one place at one time all of the communications being evaluated," said CBS News security analyst Juan Zarate.

None of the e-mails specifically mentioned Hasan's plans for a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, but because he was a member of the military the FBI showed them to a Pentagon investigator with the note "comm" written on it. To the FBI that meant "commissioned officer." The Pentagon investigator thought it meant "communication."

Special Section: Tragedy at Fort Hood

As a result, there were no red flags that an army officer was e-mailing a radical cleric suspected of being a talent spotter for al Qaeda.

Bottom line: the lessons of the Fort Hood shootings were not learned in time to avert the near disaster on Christmas day.

  • David Martin

    David Martin is CBS News' National Security Correspondent.