The Army will punish at least six officers for failing to properly supervise or take action against the accused Fort Hood shooter in the years leading up to the attack, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
Senior Army officials told the newspaper this week that the move reflects investigators' belief that the November attack at the Texas base, in which 13 people were killed, could have been prevented if supervisors had reacted to the suspicious and erratic behavior of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan.
Colleagues say Hasan, an Army psychiatrist and practicing Muslim, often inappropriately interjected faith into workplace situations, even on occasion evangelizing to patients. Despite knowledge of those actions, Hasan was not reprimanded and was even promoted over the years.
The Journal reports that most of the officers facing punishment are stationed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where Hasan worked for six years. The punishments will be detailed in an "accountability review" to be delivered to top Army officials as early as today.
A senior Army official told the newspaper that the investigation found military doctors at Walter Reed were so focused on teaching and clinical work that they failed to adequately supervise Hasan or alert authorities when he began to express extremist religious views.
The recommended punishments include a letter of reprimand, which would effectively end the officers' military careers.
Sources told the Journal that as many as eight officers could end up facing punishment as a result of the investigation.
Separate White House and Pentagon reviews of the shooting found breakdowns in communication between Hasan's colleagues, military units and even outside law enforcement agencies about Hasan's radical Islamic beliefs.
Following the release of his department's report, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said investigators found the military isn't prepared to prevent similar attacks in the future, because commanders are unsure how to intervene if they think someone within the ranks is a threat. Military leaders were instructed to review policies and procedures to change that.
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