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Gates: Army near a finding on Fort Hood suspect's rise through ranks

By Charley Keyes, CNN Senior National Security Producer
  • Sen. Susan Collins questions defense secretary at Senate committee hearing
  • Collins asks about accountability for "misleading" reports on Maj. Nidal Hasan
  • Gates says conclusions and action by the secretary of the Army are forthcoming
  • Hasan is charged with killing 13, wounding 32 at Fort Hood in November 2009

Washington (CNN) -- Fifteen months after the Fort Hood shootings, the Army is poised to report to the secretary of defense on how the suspect, Maj. Nidal Hasan, rose through the ranks without raising any alarms.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, on Thursday asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing whether anyone would be held accountable for ignoring what she called Hasan's erratic behavior and poor performance.

"When will the supervisors that filed such misleading officer evaluation reports regarding Major Hasan be held accountable?" Collins asked Gates. Hasan is charged with killing 13 people and wounding 32 others in November 2009 at a medical building at Fort Hood, where he and others were preparing to ship out to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Collins, the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, spoke out last week upon release of a report she co-sponsored that said both the military and U.S. intelligence agencies could have identified Hasan as a potential threat, observed his radical Islamist links and statements and stopped him before he acted. And she said that in a meeting this week with victims of the shootings and victim families, she heard the same call for accountability and action by the military.

Gates said he had asked Secretary of the Army John McHugh to investigate.

"The latest information I have is that he is nearing decisions on this, so I don't have a precise timeline, but I think in the very near future he will be reaching his conclusions and taking whatever actions he deems appropriate," Gates said.

The Army is set to make a separate decision in the coming days about whether to proceed with a formal court martial, which could result in a death penalty for Hasan if he is found guilty.