Ex-FBI director to examine Fort Hood

WASHINGTON – Ex-FBI director William Webster will conduct an independent review of the bureau’s handling of information gathered about the Fort Hood shooting suspect before the deadly rampage, officials said yesterday.

FBI Director Robert Mueller has asked Webster to take a look at how the bureau handled information about Maj. Nidal Hasan in the months before the shooting at the Texas military base that killed 13 people.

Mueller had already ordered an internal review of the matter, and that review led to a secret report to the White House in late November. The new assignment for Webster takes the internal review a step further, and likely means a more prolonged, in-depth inquiry. Webster is a former judge who also served as CIA director.

In a statement, Mueller called Webster ‘uniquely qualified’ for the job because he ‘has led independent reviews of various FBI systems and broader policies and provided valuable recommendations. In this case, Judge Webster will have complete access and whatever resources necessary to complete the task.’

Webster now works for a private law firm, and his office referred all questions Tuesday to the FBI.

The U.S. military is also reviewing its handling of information about Hasan before the shooting spree, and has also sent a report to the White House on the matter. In the FBI’s case, members of two anti-terrorism task forces saw e-mails between the Army psychiatrist and a radical imam overseas beginning in December 2008.

Those task forces reviewed the communications and decided they were in keeping with Hasan’s research at the time. As a result, no formal investigation of Hasan was opened – a move that has been criticized by some in Congress.

Webster’s inquiry is expected to take about as much time as the Defense Department’s probe – with an early stage review to be concluded by the beginning of next year, and a more detailed review in about six months.