A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Homeland Security Adviser?


Q: Was the suspected Fort Hood shooter an "advisor to Obama’s homeland security team" or a member of his "transition team"?

A: This is another false e-rumor. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was merely an audience member at some public events of a university-sponsored group that offered unsolicited advice to the new administration.

FULL QUESTION

Is this e-mail true?

Subject: Nidal Hasan, was Homeland Security advisor on Obama transition team

Oh Yeah, we’re safe all right. How much more is going to come out on this president. Now we have a little insight into why Obama said to not jump to conclusions about Nidal Hasan. This murdering Muslim who killed and wounded the people in Texas was an advisor to Obama’s Homeland Security team. Look on page 29 of the Homeland Security Institute link below.

http://www.gwumc.edu/hspi/old/PTTF_ProceedingsReport_05.19.09.pdf

FULL ANSWER

Debunking this false claim is as easy as clicking on the URL that the anonymous author provides. The document that this message refers to fails to back up its claims. It is from the George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute, a "think and do" tank based in Washington, D.C. And page 29 doesn’t say that Hasan, a suspect in the shootings at the military base in Fort Hood, Texas, was an adviser to the transition team of President Barack Obama.

The document is about HSPI’s "Presidential Transition Task Force" — a project separate and apart from Obama’s transition team. It’s a project that aimed to bring together experts in several fields and make recommendations to the incoming administration. It was formed in April 2008 — before it was clear which party would win the White House or even who the Democratic nominee would be. Hasan is listed as one of several hundred professors, reporters, government officials and members of Congress, who attended several public meetings that were organized by HSPI.

Despite the name, HSPI’s presidential task force has no connection to Obama or the White House. In a statement provided to FactCheck.org, HSPI said:

HSPI, Nov. 18 statement: HSPI’s Presidential Transition Task Force is not and was not affiliated at all with the White House. The Task Force was created prior to the election; and was not formed at the request of any administration.

According to the HSPI document, the think tank’s presidential task force came together in the spring of 2008 to "further policy discussions of the top strategic priorities in the area of security in order to generate actionable recommendations, for the Administration taking office in January 2009." And there’s no indication that any of the task force’s published recommendations were adopted by Obama’s eventual transition team or his current administration.

Futhermore, Hasan isn’t even a member of the think tank or this particular project. HSPI, which was founded in 2003 to "build bridges between theory and practice to advance homeland security through an interdisciplinary approach," issued a separate statement acknowledging that Hasan voluntarily attended "a number" of its public events as an "audience member" but emphasized that Hasan was in no way affiliated with the group or the university:

HSPI, Nov. 6: In his capacity as Disaster & Preventive Psychiatry Fellow at the Uniformed Services University School of Medicine, Nidal Hasan registered (“RSVP’d”) to attend as an audience member a number of Homeland Security Policy Institute (HSPI) events in the period June 2008 to February 2009. All of these events were open to the public. At no time has Nidal Hasan been affiliated with HSPI or The George Washington University.

The HSPI document, "Thinking Anew—Security Priorities for the Next Administration," contains lists of the task force members, the task force staff and the HSPI steering committee. Hasan’s name doesn’t appear on those lists.

A Bad Influence

It’s possible that the author of this e-mail and authors of similar versions got their information from Jerome Corsi, who we’ve previously criticized for spreading falsehoods about the president. In an article published by World Net Daily, a conservative news Web site, Corsi wrote:

World Net Daily, Nov. 6: Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the alleged shooter in yesterday’s massacre at Fort Hood, played a homeland security advisory role in President Barack Obama’s transition into the White House, according to a key university policy institute document.

But in the very same article, headlined "Shooter advised Obama transition: Fort Hood triggerman aided team on Homeland Security task force," Corsi contradicts his own conclusion. He writes that "[w]hile the GWU task force participants included several members of government, including representatives of the Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, there is no indication in the document that the group played any formal role in the official Obama transition, other than to serve in a university-based advisory capacity."

After the article was published, World Net Daily, in response to a HuffingtonPost.com piece that called Corsi a "smear artist," added an editor’s note saying that "Hasan is being reported as a participant in the GWU Homeland Security Policy Institute’s Presidential Transition Task Force, not as a member, noting the group was a university think-tank, not part of the Obama administration official transition team." However, neither the headline of Corsi’s article, nor the section of the article saying Hasan "played a homeland security advisory role in President Barack Obama’s transition into the White House," was corrected.

— D’Angelo Gore

Sources

The George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute. "Homeland Security Policy Institute Statement on Nidal Hasan." Press Release. 6 Nov 2009.

The George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute. "Thinking Anew—Security Priorities for the Next Administration." April 2008-January 2009.

Cahn, Emily. "Fort Hood gunman attended HSPI events as an audience member." The GW Hatchet. 6 Nov 2009.

Memmott, Mark. "Story Debunked About Fort Hood Suspect And Presidential Transition." National Public Radio "The Two-Way" Blog. 6 Nov 2009.

Linkins, Jason. "WND’s Jerome Corsi Claims Fort Hood Shooter Advised Obama." HuffingtonPost.com. 6 Nov 2009.

Corsi, Jerome. "Shooter advised Obama transition: Fort Hood triggerman aided team on Homeland Security task force." World Net Daily. 6 Nov 2009.