Pentagon blames FBI in DC for al-Awlaki mixup

Remember the public back-and-forth between the FBI in San Diego and Washington over who dropped the ball on the Fort Hood shooter’s e-mails to a radical cleric in Yemen? CBS’ David Martin (author of the best CIA book evah) has this:

(CBS)   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.

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….

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.”

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.

Bottom line No. 2: The FBI and Pentagon aren’t speaking the language.

The story doesn’t say it but the report is by the Pentagon’s top spook, USDI James R. Clapper.

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