Nov. 24, 2009 -- Leaders of a Pentagon-appointed task force charged with investigating what factors led to the Fort Hood massacre Nov. 5 and recommending policies to prevent future attacks began their review today, saying their job is not "to point fingers."
"We're simply here to accumulate information and offer our best judgments to the Secretary of Defense," said Togo West, who served as Secretary of the Army and Secretary of Veterans Affairs during the Clinton administration. "Today we take the first step along that road."
West and former Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Vernon Clark are leading the review board. They arrived at the Fort Hood base today to begin what will be a 45-day investigation. A separate criminal investigation is already underway.
At a press conference this afternoon, West said they will examine policies and procedures "that have to do with how we deal with service members who may ... cause trouble or harm to their fellows," as well as those that pertain to force protection, how to deal with mass casualties, and how to apply such procedures to an alleged perpetrator.
Clark and West emphasized that their investigation is not criminal in nature, and also commended the emergency response to the Fort Hood shooting.
"One of the tasks that we've been given to perform is to evaluate the performance of our first responders," said Clark. "And the story about how the first-responder team performed is very, very encouraging."
Army Major Nidal Hasan is facing 13 counts of premeditated murder for the attacks and will be tried in military court.
Hasan's attorney John Galligan told "Good Morning America" Sunday that his client will probably plead not guilty and that an insanity defense is possible.
Galligan said Hasan may face additional charges for the Nov. 5 shooting spree. He said he was alerted to the new charges during a pre-trial confinement hearing before a military magistrate held in Hasan's San Antonio hospital room Saturday.
Galligan: Hasan "Has No Sensation From His Chest Down"
After the hearing at the Brooke Army Medical Center Saturday, Galligan said his client is paralyzed from the chest down and is a not a flight risk. The military magistrate ruled that Hasan will stay at Brooke Army Medical Center for now, but the military has the option of moving him to another medical facility or to jail.
According to Galligan, Hasan is paralyzed, incontinent and "in severe pain."
"He is an individual in need of constant medical attention," Galligan said. "He has no sensation from his chest down."
Hasan was transferred to Brooke AMC Nov. 6, a day after the shooting. He was taken off a ventilator Nov. 7. The following day, when investigators tried to interview him, he refused to answer questions and requested a lawyer.
Galligan, whose private practice is in nearby Belton, Texas, met with Hasan for the first time Nov. 9. He has asked that his security clearance be reinstated so that he can review all the evidence against Hasan.
Galligan, a retired Army colonel, told "Good Morning America" that he is defending Hasan because he has spent "a large portion of my military career and post-retirement career" representing soldiers.
"I'm proud any time I have an opportunity to defend an American soldier or officer in a court martial proceeding," Galligan said. "Mayor Hasan is presumed innocent of these charges."
Military prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty.