Guests: Pete Williams, Barry McCaffrey, Bob Windrem, Roger Cressey, Clint Van Zandt, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington, as we continue our live coverage of the deadly shootings down at Ft. Hood in Texas. We‘ve just been updated on the casualty totals by officials at Ft. Hood. The spokesman gave us the numbers 12 dead, 31 wounded. Two suspects are in custody, both are U.S. soldiers. A third suspect is dead.
We‘re awaiting President Obama to make a statement over at the Interior Department, where he was scheduled to speak before a tribal nations—that‘s a native Americans conference at Interior. He‘s going to speak about this tragedy at that time. We don‘t know what information he‘s going to be giving us. We know that the White House staff is in the Situation Room at the White House, keeping up with events.
Let‘s start with NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams. Pete, we just know that these are soldiers now. That is a big development. We know they‘re Americans. They‘re in uniform. They‘re not posing as soldiers, they are soldiers, the suspects.
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Correct. And what we‘re told is that the main one—we believe the main suspect, the person who fired the bulk of the shots, was in his late 30s and was a U.S. Army major, which would—you know, that would square with the age there. But we don‘t know, at this point, anything more about what was going on, why he decided to open fire.
These shots occurred about 1:30 Texas time, Chris, at what‘s called the Soldier Readiness Facility, which has been described by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who‘s from Texas, as the place where soldiers were going to fill out paperwork to prepare to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan. And at about 1:30 -- this is a building—this Army major, we‘re told, in his 30s walked in and opened fire and then was in turn shot himself and killed. And then two other suspects were arrested.
It‘s not clear what the connection is, at this point, between the two additional suspects, whether they were with the man who‘s said to be an Army major, whether additional information led them to them. That is unclear at this point.
As you might expect, because this is a military base and because it was in lockdown, there‘s been very little investigative activity so far by federal law enforcement agencies, the FBI, the ATF, all of whom are sending agents to the scene. And it‘ll take some time before they get in and do their part of the investigation about, you know, who was this person? Why did he fire the shots? There doesn‘t seem to be a good answer to that.
And I think, you know, one question that‘s been on everyone‘s mind this afternoon was, is this an act of terrorism? And I must say, Chris, I think we still don‘t know the answer to that question. It doesn‘t necessarily answer the question to say that the person was—all involved were—I‘m told the president is now at the podium, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Right. Let‘s go to the president now.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... for organizing just an extraordinary conference. I want to thank my cabinet members and senior administration officials who participated today. I hear that Dr. Joe Medicine Crow (ph) was around, so I want to give a shout-out to that Congressional Medal Of honor winner. Good to see you.
OBAMA: My understanding is, is that you had an extremely productive conference. I want to thank all of you for coming and for your efforts, and I want to give you any solemn guarantee that this is not the end of the process but the beginning of the process, and that we are going to follow up...
OBAMA: We are going to follow up. Every single member of my team understands that this is a top priority for us. I want you to know that, as I said this morning, this is not something that we just give lip service to. And we are going to keep on working with you to make sure that the first Americans get the best possible chances in life in a way that‘s consistent with your extraordinary traditions and culture and values.
Now, I have to say, though, that beyond that, I planned to make some broader remarks about the challenges that lay ahead for native Americans, as well as collaboration with our administration. But as some of you might have heard, there has been a tragic shooting at the Ft. Hood Army base in Texas. We don‘t know yet know all the details at this moment. We will share them as we get them. What we do know is that a number of American soldiers have been killed and even more have been wounded in a horrific outburst of violence.
My immediate thoughts and prayers are with the wounded and with the families of the fallen and with those who live and serve at Ft. Hood. These are men and women who have made the selfless and courageous decision to risk and at times give their lives to protect the rest of us on a daily basis. It‘s difficult enough when we lose those brave Americans in battles overseas. It is horrifying that they should come under fire at an Army base on American soil.
I have spoken to Secretary Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, and I will continue to receive a constant stream of updates as new information comes in. We are working with the Pentagon, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security all to ensure that Ft. Hood is secure, and we will continue to support the community with the full resources of the federal government.
In the meantime, I would ask all Americans to keep the men and women of Ft. Hood in your thoughts and prayers. We will make sure that we get answers to every single question about this horrible incident. And I want all of you to know that, as commander-in-chief, that there‘s no greater honor but also no greater responsibility for me than to make sure that the extraordinary men and women in uniform are properly cared for and that their safety and security when they are at home is provided for. So we are going to stay on this. But I hope in the meantime that all of you recognize the scope of this tragedy and keep everybody in their thoughts and prayers.
Again, thank you for your participation are here today. I am confident that this is going to be resulting in terrific work between this government and your governments in the weeks, the months and years to come. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.
MATTHEWS: That was the president speaking over at the Interior Department to a group called the Tribal Nations Conference, of native Americans, of course, speak on their interests, and at the time, of course, he broke away from his prepared text, and obviously, in an attempt to deal with the situation that‘s breaking right now.
I‘m with Pete Williams, justice correspondent with NBC News. It‘s clear, Pete, that the president doesn‘t know any more than we do. He doesn‘t know the motive, which is key. He doesn‘t really know the sort of group of people the are coming from who committed these shootings or why or what they‘re about, whether it‘s psychological, political, national. We don‘t really know what it is at all, which is a strange situation for the president.
But to recap, a total of 43 people have been shot by handguns. There were three shooters total. Two of them are in custody, one is dead. The prime person, the shooter, if you will, to use the crude term, apparently is a senior military officer, a major in the military, 39 years old and a soldier, as are the other two who are involved. Two of them are in custody, including him, and one is dead.
I guess we don‘t know much else more here except that they were shooting at people who were getting ready to be deployed overseas, Pete.
WILLIAMS: That‘s correct. They were at what they call the Soldier Readiness Facility at about 1:30 this afternoon, which is described as a series of buildings, not just one building, but the shootings all apparently took place in that single building.
And what I was saying just before we went to listen to the president, Chris, was that, you know, the question on everybody‘s mind when this first happened was, is this an act of terrorism? And I think—what I was about to say is that I don‘t think we know the answer to that question. The fact that it was a U.S. soldier who is apparently behind the shooting doesn‘t answer the question. Merely the fact that it‘s an American citizen or a U.S. soldier doesn‘t tell us if it‘s an act of terrorism. You know, we just don‘t know what the motive was. It‘s just too soon to say.
MATTHEWS: Let me go—hold on there, Pete. We‘ll go right now to Roger Cressey. He‘s a counterterrorism analyst for NBC News. Roger, we aren‘t even sure what category this fits into, but it‘s more than one person, which makes the inference obvious it‘s not just a psychological case, a person who‘s just emotionally or mentally disturbed, but a number of people involved, which makes you think that there‘s motive here beyond just personal feelings involved.
ROGER CRESSEY, NBC COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Chris, that‘s right. And what we know so far is what I‘ve have been hearing from the FBI and the intelligence community. Army CID—the Criminal Investigative Division—have identified several of the people involved. We‘ve heard the reports coming out now of a military officer, an 04 level, which would be an Army major.
We don‘t know motive. And most importantly, we know that this is not just a lone gunman syndrome. What we don‘t know is whether or not, as Pete has alluded to, is this a criminal conspiracy, where these individuals decided to do this together in some plot or another having nothing to do with terrorism, nothing to do with radicalization and more to do with circumstances and events right on the ground.
What we do know is the objective was to kill a large number of people. When you go to these type of facilities, where people gather to fill out paperwork, to congregate, to process, then the opportunity to strike as many people as possible is extremely high. So clearly, the premeditated nature of this is what‘s most disturbing. They are looking to kill large numbers and wound large numbers. They certainly accomplished that.
The objective now with the individual in custody is to identify what was the motive? Were they working with anybody else? And were they radicalized, or was this purely just a criminal conspiracy?
MATTHEWS: What do you make of the fact that, apparently, handguns were the weapons here? And of course, the number of people who were shot is 43. That‘s a large number of people[ shot by three people. How does that work, point-blank range? Is that face to face? How do you—what does it tell you that there are handguns involved?
CRESSEY: Well, you‘re dealing with Army officers and maybe regular soldiers, all of whom are expertly trained in the use of handguns. Handguns are easy to bring into a facility. You can conceal them. If you‘re going in premeditated to start shooting people, coming with an assault rifle, obviously, will trigger suspicion, and they would not be allowed to do that. So you come in with handguns, with multiple rounds. If it‘s a .45 or something similar, you could have multiple magazines on your body and continue to reload. So you can get off a large number of rounds before you‘re either taken out by security or you‘re taken down by other means.
MATTHEWS: Is it too soon, or do we have—we have to use deduction, if we use anything here at this point, with little information. The fact that this is a readiness facility for people being deployed overseas, does it smack you as an act of not radicalization, opposition to the war policy?
CRESSEY: The biggest caveat we can have right now is not to jump to conclusions, given that this event is still going on. The fact that Ft. Hood is such a critical facility for the United States Army—soldiers there deploy all across the world. Clearly, it‘s a major hub for deployments to the two war theaters right now. The fact that they were trying to—the co-conspirators, which I believe they are, were trying to kill a large number of people and going to the one facility, which guaranteed a large number of targets, that in and of itself sends a strong signal. What we don‘t know, though, Chris, is what was driving them to do this terrible crime.
MATTHEWS: Do we have anything to put together here in terms of battlefield experience and trauma? And is there ever—just generically, is there ever a case where it‘s a communal thing, where there‘s two or three people suffering from the same kind of syndrome? Or once you get more than one person involved in a shooting like this, a violent act, it almost inevitably involves a shared motive, rather than a shared condition?
CRESSEY: Well, one question I think they‘re going to be asking any individual in custody—first they‘re going to check on his background. Did he serve overseas? Did anything happen, if he did serve overseas, that really impacted him, loss of colleagues, other things that traumatized him? Is there post-traumatic stress involved, and that is why one individual and the others involved in this, to whatever degree, decided to undertake these acts?
So there‘s going to be a psychological evaluation and examination with this individual and the others that are ultimately apprehended as they try to determine what motivated them to take this type of horrible, horrible act.
MATTHEWS: Is there any kind of evidence that there is in the military right now an anti-war mentality that has to do with the people on the other side of the fight, the Islamic people we‘re fighting? Is there any sense of sympathy or anything that would justify in the hearts of people who would commit such acts this kind of behavior?
CRESSEY: Nothing at all. We‘ve not seen any reports from the Army, from the Marines, which are the two services that are providing the ground forces in both Afghanistan and Iraq, to lead anyone to conclude that what is happening is individuals coming—soldiers and Marines coming back have been traumatized to the point where they are taking action against fellow soldiers and Marines in opposition to our policy overseas.
I think what you‘re seeing, though, are individuals coming back who are traumatized for a wide variety of reasons, nothing that has to do with being radicalized per se, it‘s just from their own experiences overseas. No matter where they are in the political spectrum, at the tactical level, when you go through firefights, when you lose loved ones, your colleagues, your fellow soldiers, that will traumatize you. And what we have seen is a lot of psychological evaluations of soldiers coming home, where they‘ve had to deal with some serious, serious emotional and mental challenges. We don‘t know if that‘s the case here, but that‘s going to be a huge issue that‘s going to be explored in the investigation to come.
MATTHEWS: All big questions right now. Roger Cressey, stay with us.
Let‘s go to Clint van Zandt, a profiler for the FBI who‘s been on this network so many times and relied upon. Open questions here of motive, of condition, shared experience. Clint, anything you can make of this, given the fact that these were handguns used, it was senior military officer of major rank, 12 dead, 31 wounded, a total of 43 people who have been shot in just a matter of minutes here?
CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER (via telephone): Yes, well, first of all, Chris, I don‘t think it‘s a case of a shared post-traumatic stress disorder. I don‘t recall ever seeing a case where three individuals have experienced post-traumatic stress, and at the same time have some type of delusional system to allow them to make an attack like this. So I think, as you and Roger were talking, it‘s probably going to be more of a political/religious reason.
And with the type of handguns that were used, you know, this brings you and I and all of our listeners back to Virginia Tech. We saw what just one man with two handguns was able to do on the Virginia Tech campus. And when we realize that on a military base, even though there may be 25,000, 50,000 soldiers, they are not carrying weapons—they‘re purposely not carrying weapons—the only ones who have guns on that base is going to be military police.
So like in the ill-fated plot at Ft. Dix, where there was going to be an attack, many times, al Qaeda or other groups will keep these same plans in their place (INAUDIBLE) If you look at al Qaeda‘s wish list, on that wish list, or any terrorist group wish list, is to get passport, card-carrying U.S. citizens who they could recruit, radicalize and then use them in some terrible mode like this.
We don‘t know yet. We don‘t know what the motive is. But it appears it‘s going to be more of a political/religious type that will allow three individuals to come together to carry out this terrible plan.
MATTHEWS: How much proliferation, if any, has there been of that kind of motive, of people who have been recruited to aid our enemies? Any evidence of that having occurred?
VAN ZANDT: Yes, there is. There‘s been active recruiting going on. We‘ve had cases within the last couple of months where U.S. citizens we know that have been recruited that have allegedly been trained in terrorist training camps overseas. This has been—since 9/11, there‘s been an active attempt on the part of various terrorist groups to enroll U.S. citizens, to get card-carrying, passport-carrying citizens who could pass muster, so to speak, as far as their nationality but still have been radicalized. This takes place in mosques, it takes place in prisons, it takes place in the various cities across our country.
MATTHEWS: Well, the one caveat I think we have to be very careful about is making any general judgments before we have any answers, and we don‘t have any right now. All we have right now really is the fact that there are two suspects in custody right now. They are soldiers in the U.S. Army. I believe Army is right. It‘s an Army base.
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
MATTHEWS: We know that one has been killed, so we know—you‘re right, there‘s been three involved. So it‘s reasonable to assume it‘s a group effort, it‘s a communal effort. It‘s not a psychological case involved but a shared motive. That‘s a fair assumption, that they shared a motive, and a conspiracy. It was all done at once, all using handguns, all in a matter of minutes, shooting 43 people. The fact that handguns aren‘t generally being carried by people in the military in those large bases tells you that they put some planning into this to get by without being detected as they proceed with the plot.
The question I would have, even at this early stage, is what would be the purpose of a generalized—a general plot of such local or national insignificance, just to start shooting at people? This isn‘t the kind of terrorist plot that we have seen in recent years, is it, Clint? They‘re generally going for the grander, rather than the local.
VAN ZANDT: And that‘s something you and I have talked about, that since 9/11, we‘ve seen terrorist groups (INAUDIBLE) why haven‘t they attacked? And number one is that the intelligence and law enforcement has done their job. And number two, they‘re looking, just like you say, for the grand attack.
But Chris, on the other side of that playbook is to do something within one of our own facilities, do it with our own people, with the realization that terrorism is really staged and this is trying to get up and make a statement.
VAN ZANDT: This is one way to make a master statement.
MATTHEWS: You mean just the fact—well, we have to live with this fact now, no matter what the motive, no matter what the condition of these soldiers. Our own people have shot on our own people and killed. In this case, 12 people are dead because Americans, it seemed, have shot at Americans in a non—apparently, not for financial gain. There‘s no evidence of that—of that kind of crime involved here.
It is—at the level we‘re understanding it now, with all the facts we have, Americans have killed Americans on a military base. Men in uniform have shot other people in uniform. You‘re right. That is very discouraging, demoralizing in itself.
And if someone wanted to have that happen as a deliberate bit of stagecraft, you can—I guess you could understand what purpose they would seek.
VAN ZANDT: And, Chris...
MATTHEWS: To make us feel bad.
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
And, Chris, the continuing threat is, then, this could happen, then, on any military base. And this puts our men and women and military in the position of looking at those around them and saying, is there anybody around me capable of committing an act like this?
So, I think the term you use, stagecraft, is correct. I mean, these are terrible losses, the ones killed and injured, but the emotional ripple effect on our country and on our military could be far greater.
MATTHEWS: What did you make—did you hear the president‘s statement, Clint?
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
MATTHEWS: Were you surprised at the—at the minimal information available to him at this point, or the minimal information that he wanted to put out?
It‘s the—it‘s one of the few times I have seen him where he really came in very much minimally briefed, minimally briefed, on a situation like this. So, apparently, what‘s coming in to the Joint Chiefs, what‘s coming in to the Defense Department at the highest levels, at the Gates level, at the Chiefs level, is—is nothing so far.
VAN ZANDT: Well, I—I think this is a president who continues to learn, Chris.
And in—in some situations a few months ago, where he came out and made a statement before all of the information was in, I think he learned a valuable lesson. And that‘s, let‘s put out what we know, but let‘s not put out a false statement that‘s going to be attributable to him, the leader of this nation.
So, I think it was very wise on his part, tell them what you know, but don‘t speculate. He‘s the president. He either knows or he doesn‘t.
MATTHEWS: OK. Hang in there, Clint Van Zandt, who‘s a profiling expert with the FBI.
Let‘s go to General Barry McCaffrey, our old friend. He‘s retired from the U.S. military at the highest level. He‘s an NBC News military analyst. He spent a lot of his time at Fort Hood during his military career.
General, I don‘t want to get into speculation, beyond asking the questions. And we have to ask them, because everyone is asking them right now. Who did this and why? Have you got a sense here, beyond what we have been able to do, which is to know that there‘s two suspects in hand, one of them a high-ranking official, meaning a major, 39 years old, all military uniform men involved here, one of the three dead, as well as the 12 victims dead and the 31 wounded.
A lot of damage done here.
GENERAL BARRY MCCAFFREY (RET.), NBC MILITARY ANALYST: yes.
Well, we don‘t know the facts. I listened very carefully to Lieutenant General Bob Cone, the Corps commander. He was trying, obviously, to be objective and to get out the first report.
It is beyond my imagination. This is probably the most tragic peacetime incident that I know of in the—the years I have been in uniform. So, it‘s a great tragedy.
This Corps, two divisions, lots of separate brigades, aviation, engineers, military police, has been at war more than eight years. So, these families have watched a steady parade of casualties coming home from Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, but this is, I‘m sure, a deep blow to the entire Central Texas community.
MATTHEWS: When people start shooting people in these kinds of situations, the basic human motive of anger against your colleagues, anger against the institutions around you, which—which basically control your life in the military, or it could be a national anger against your country.
Does it tell you—tell you anything, General, that this was an attack on people who were being prepared for deployment overseas, including in war zones?
MCCAFFREY: Well, we don‘t know.
But one of the obvious things, it isn‘t—it wasn‘t a young kid who was drunk at night and acting out a momentary rage. That‘s normally what we encounter. These posts, Chris, Fort Hood included, are the most peaceful places in America. It‘s a disciplined population.
People don‘t lock their doors. The perimeter security is superb. You know, if you look at the blotter report on a giant installation like this, it‘s, shoplifting of a candy bar is more likely than mass murder. So, we don‘t know.
My guess is, we‘re going to hear, however, that this was a—a plan.
It was executed as part of a—my instinct is, some political statement.
In other words, it wasn‘t a drug deal gone bad. It wasn‘t alcohol-induced. And I don‘t think we‘re going to hear that this is a mental health breakdown of a—of a lone person.
But we will—we will know the facts. I‘m sure the FBI, in particular, will try and strip this situation more clearly...
MCCAFFREY: ... for us to understand in the coming 48 hours.
MATTHEWS: Well, there‘s—again, I go back to this—we‘re operating here in real time on a live network right now, and we have two categories of motive here. One is, of course, national anger at the United States and its military policies in the world, its military role in the world, anger against the institution because of a personal experience with the military.
And we don‘t know, right, General.
So, let me go back to Pete Williams, if we can, our justice correspondent.
Pete Williams is not available.
I want to go back to Clint Van Zandt, who‘s been running this through his profiling mind right now, trying to figure out which of these two categories.
If General McCaffrey‘s correct—and it seems look a very clear and basic deduction—that this is not mental illness, emotional illness, it‘s not post-traumatic—post-traumatic stress syndrome, it‘s none of those, because it involves a number of people, and it involves planning a deliberate attack using weapons and opportunity and—and stealth.
So, it doesn‘t sound like an impulsive act of an angry person or a sick person.
Your thoughts now, as an expert, Clint?
VAN ZANDT: Well, my thought, Chris, is that it‘s hard for me to imagine three members of our military just doing this as a—number one, as a criminal incident, or, number two, simply because they were all angry for personal reasons.
This—I—you know, when we look at motivation, I think there has to be a greater motivation for murder, which is, of course, what we have had here. And that motivation, these days, extend to political, religious, ideological type of reasons.
So, that‘s where I would look initially. And—and I would look at one of these three who was the primary leader who recruited the other two to work with him.
MATTHEWS: Look for the leader.
Let‘s—let‘s go right now to NBC News chief justice correspondent,
Pete Williams, who has some information on one of the suspects in custody -
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Right.
A couple of things, Chris.
First of all, we‘re told that the person who is believed to have fired the bulk of the shots here is a 39-year-old, 39- or 40-year-old Army Major named Malik Nadal Hasan. The spelling on the last name is H-A-S-A-N. M-A-L-I-K N-A-D-A-L. Malik Nadal Hasan, age 39 or 40.
Now, you know, it‘s still—I must say, talking to some federal officials back here, it is still not clear—you know, we have—we have had from the lieutenant general who briefed down there that there were three people involved, the army major, whom I justified, Hasan, Major Hasan, who appears to have fired the bulk of the shots, if not all of them, and then two other suspects.
But it—it‘s not clear here what the connection was between those two other suspects and the Army major. And it may be, Chris, that, by the time this all shakes out in the next couple hours, that, you know, they will figure out that maybe they—they—they weren‘t involved.
I just don‘t know. There seems to be a lot of confusion about that up here. So, that‘s one big question that is still being looked at.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Pete.
Let me go back to—to Clint Van Zandt with that information.
What do you make—I don‘t know. It‘s—it‘s always tricky to make judgments. I‘m careful here, and I‘m going to remain careful, about the motivation here, whether—whatever it is. And I‘m not even going to venture forth here, and I‘m not going to ask you to do that either.
We know it‘s a major. It looks like, if you follow common sense, the more—the older person tends to be the leader. The one with the highest rank, you would expect, would be the leader, if this was collusion, if this was conspiracy to commit this crime against fellow military people.
But, clearly, the fact that he‘s a 39-year-old major in the Army means that he has some prestige with his—with his colleagues. And if he‘s able to recruit, that would make the most sense.
But isn‘t that odd, we heard just, Clint, that Pete is not able to ascertain, as a reporter, whether these are in fact—what the relationship was among these acts, except common sense tells you three people just don‘t start shooting at the same time. They‘re—they‘re colleagues.
VAN ZANDT: Yes, and I think the issue, too, Chris—and as much as we want to be totally politically correct, I don‘t think we can disregard that the primary shooter, as he‘s called, has an Arabic-sounding name, too.
Now, what—what if any that plays into this, we don‘t know yet. But
· but, if we take that fact alone, it may start to drive our supposition in a certain direction.
But, again, you know, we‘re here—we‘re here guessing and trying to put our best think caps on.
MATTHEWS: Yes. We will know a lot more about this two hours from now than we know now, besides the person‘s last name...
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
MATTHEWS: ... which, I agree with you, the name is interesting. It‘s not a common name. And it‘s Arabic-sounding, to use your colloquialism.
But the fact is, you got to—we‘re going to know a lot more by the time the newspapers go to bed tonight and have to put this out on the record.
But I do tell you, Clint, as you know, tomorrow morning‘s newspaper—and I‘m still a newspaper person—are going to be filled...
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
MATTHEWS: ... with the faces of 12 dead people. And every paper in the United States is going to have those pictures. And “The Nightly News” here at NBC, everybody is going to have these pictures of people dead because something happened at this fort, this largest military facility.
And somebody did some shooting. It was three people involved. And people are going to assume it was a conspiracy. They are going to assume it was—well, they will know it was deadly, and they are going to worry about this.
And I assume that, if it was a terrorist plot involved here, that we‘re going to be worrying about this for weeks ahead. How did it get started? How were people recruited? How—what was the enticement? What was their emotional state that led them to act against their colleagues?
I have always been told, Clint, that people fight to defend their colleagues, their buddies in war. They don‘t start shooting at them. And here, at a—at a peaceful base, described as a very peaceful facility, one day, on a Thursday in November 2009, three guys with guns started shooting at their colleagues, and killed—and shot 43 of them with the intent to kill all 43, and 12 of them are dead, and maybe more will die because of the shooting. And one of the shooters is dead.
This is serious business.
Let me bring in Bob Windrem right now for his information from New York.
Bob, it‘s always great to hear from you. I seem to always have to go to you when there‘s trouble. This is trouble.
BOB WINDREM, NBC INVESTIGATIVE PRODUCER: Yes, a couple of things here, Chris, that—that struck me.
First of all, General Cone, when he gave the briefing, talked about shooter, singular. He did not say shooter plural. He said that they had taken in two others essentially for questioning who are suspects. So, at this point, we do not know their role. But he certainly said the shooter, singular, had been killed.
Now, the other issue here is, what can we draw from this when we look back two years to the Fort Dix plot, which was a very different situation. As you recall, there were six—six Arabic and Turkish men who were ultimately convicted of plotting an attack within Fort Dix.
In that particular case, there were no insiders, other than the fact that they could get inside because some of their number were involved in a pizza delivery operation, so that they could get inside the base.
They practiced with automatic weapons. They planned this very thoroughly. This appears to be somewhat different. This appears to be an insider, number one, in Major—Major Hasan. And, also, it appears to be not automatic weapons, but handguns, handguns that may even have been his handguns.
And, as—as was pointed out earlier by—by Roger Cressey, you know, these are easy to conceal. So, I do think the—the key thing is that, even though what we know is more than what we knew an hour ago, we still have a long way to go as to determining who did what, beyond the shooter, who we know now is dead.
MATTHEWS: OK, Bob Windrem, we are going to take a break now on MSNBC.
We will be right back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My immediate thoughts and prayers are with the wounded and with the families of the fallen and with those who live and serve at Fort Hood.
These are men and women who have made the selfless and courageous decision to risk and at times give their lives to protect the rest of us on a daily basis.
It‘s difficult enough when we lose these brave Americans in battles overseas.
It is horrifying that they should come under fire at an Army base on American soil.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Let‘s go back to NBC‘s Bob Windrem to get what we can here.
If it‘s one shooter, his name is Malik Nadal Hasan, and he‘s dead.
WINDREM: Correct. That—that is what General Cone said at his briefing.
I saw it just before I—I came out here, Chris. But what he said was the shooter. He referred to a singular shooter. He also talked about two other soldiers, Army soldiers, who had been—who had been grabbed in the vicinity and were being questioned.
They have not been identified. We don‘t know whether anybody has actually been charged in this case either. I mean, it is now, I guess, four hours—or three-and-a-half-hours after this attack, and we really do not yet know what the other two men who have been—who have been grabbed, captured, whatever word you want to use, they‘re being questioned, what role they had.
Certainly, we would know—we know that, with 43 shots having found targets, 12 dead and 31 wounded—that‘s at least 43 shots having found their target—that this had—and we know that handguns were used—this means there had to have been, if it was only one shooter, as General Cone said, multiple rounds being fired, reloaded, perhaps moving as he—as he—as he did this to avoid being—to avoid being shot.
But, certainly, he is dead, according to General Cone.
And we don‘t—we have also heard that there were incidents in more than one location. This is getting—this is very foggy, of course, in this early—even after four hours, it‘s very hard to get the information.
WINDREM: Well, General—General Cone said all the shooting took place at that one location, at the readiness center. That‘s—that‘s what he had said, again, just before I came out here and I listened to the briefing.
He said, everything had taken place at that location. And, in fact, the two—the two others who had been taken into custody were also within that general vicinity.
There have been a lot of reports, obviously, of multiple locations. And, obviously, there have been even later reports of shootings at—at residences. But when General Cone came out to gave his—give his briefing—and, of course, it could have changed since—he said everything had taken place in the vicinity of the readiness center.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Bob Windrem. Let—Windrem.
Let‘s go back to Clint Van Zandt here.
Again, we‘re working on limited information.
Let‘s go to Jack Jacobs, in fact. He‘s also joining us. I haven‘t heard from Colonel Jacobs yet.
Colonel Jacobs, are you available right now to talk about this?
Colonel—Colonel? I guess he‘s not there.
We are going to go back to Roger Cressey. We‘re trying to get all points here involved here as fast as we can get this information.
Roger, again, it‘s back to you.
And I think this—if it is—the information is coming out of that one briefing that said it was just the one shooter, who is dead—that‘s Major Hasan—and two other suspects picked up somehow related to this. We don‘t know if there‘s actual arrests been made, but we do know there‘s three people involved now to some extent.
But, boy, this is an interesting case, when you have 43 people who have been shot, 12 of them dead, and 31 who have been wounded, all—so far with one shooter. But that‘s also murky because there‘s—there are numerous locations involved here.
What do you make of this now?
CRESSEY: Well, Chris, I think we‘re probably looking at a situation where the gunman had more than one handgun involved. I mean, the clips—the clips that are used do not allow for a single—single clip with that many rounds. So it was multiple clips. Probably more than one handgun. Which means he had the opportunity to either fire simultaneously or take the time to reload.
That‘s going to be part of the investigation. I think what we—we also don‘t know is whether or not there are additional targets at Ft. Hood. It was a gunman and his co-conspirators looking to go elsewhere? Or was this the only target?
MATTHEWS: Roger, let‘s go back. Here‘s the hearing. We are going to go back to the spokesman at the base.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We‘re getting great cooperation from the Central Texas Medical Facilities. As I said, the shooter was killed. He was say soldier. We since then have apprehended two additional soldiers that are suspects. I would go into the point that there were eyewitness accounts that there may have been more than one shooter.
They tracked the suspected individuals to an adjacent facility. They were apprehended. They are soldiers. But, again, they are suspects at this time. We‘re looking into that.
The challenge that we face right now is the installation is locked down and, in many cases, a lot of the facilities, a lot of our families, children are locked in facilities. And we‘re making a call right now as to determine whether we think the situation is at a conclusion, such that we can release people and get them back to their homes.
It is locked down right now. And we will err on the side of caution, in terms of making sure that the situation has stabilized. We have not had any casualties. All the casualties took place in the initial incident that took place at 1330.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is that again?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was at the Soldier Readiness Facility.
No, this is—these—the individuals involved were U.S. soldiers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of the individuals?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That‘s correct.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was there someone arrested at a Dollar General in Killeen (ph) related to this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not know. I only know what‘s going on at Ft.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back from that briefing. No information there, except we‘re getting a very wide open inquiry going on right now involving possibly more than one shooter. Certainly one shooter involved and possibly more.
The spokesman there not clear on that yet, except they have taken three men—well, three men were taken—were involved in this. Two were taken into custody. One was shot dead. So clearly three involved, but not clear who the shooters were, if it was one shooter or more than one.
I want to go back to Roger on this point. Again, we go back to the question mark—which anyone joining us right now can join us in the mystery. The mystery is motive here. And whether it‘s a number of soldiers involved with an attitude, a motive to do harm to their institutions, to the military itself, or some kind of national threat to the country. Men here engaged in some kind of terrorist assault from within. Roger?
CRESSEY: Well, Chris, I think one point to keep in mind is that when I used to do some of this work at the White House, the rule we always had was, when we‘re briefing the national security adviser and the president, first reports were often wrong. So we are going to get additional information as it comes out, some of which may contradict what we have reported up to this point.
It‘s an important thing to keep in mind.
Back to motive, I think there are a couple scenarios here. One is these are soldiers who may have been deployed over seas; something happened to them over seas; and they decided—they had a variety of issues, and when they came back to base, they decided to act upon it. Another scenario might be things happen to them while they were on Ft. Hood that they decided to undertake this heinous crime.
I think the one scenario we can probably rule out is what happened in Arkansas back in July, the shooting at the Army Recruitment Station by Abdul Hakim Mohammed, who went to Yemen, was radicalized, came back and decided to attack an army recruiting base as a symbol of what the United States policy was around the Muslim world.
These guys are active duty. They have served inside the military. So their motive is somewhat different. And certainly I don‘t think they went overseas to any type of place where they could be radicalized, like Mohammed was in Yemen.
Something else triggered them. The question is, was it events over seas, something they did personally, or was it something that happened on base that forced them and prompted them to undertake this heinous crime?
MATTHEWS: It all makes sense in terms of possibilities. Thank you, Roger Cressey. Stay with us. We will be back with our coverage of this breaking story. Again, 12 people dead at Ft. Hood; 31 wounded; one person dead, one shooter for sure, maybe more.
Captain Malik Nadal Hasan, age 39, is dead. He was involved. We‘ll know more as we continue our coverage. Back with MSNBC in a minute.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s go now to a statement made by Governor Rick Perry of Texas on this shooting at Ft. Hood.
GOV. RICK PERRY ®, TEXAS: I have spoken directly with the officials at Ft. Hood, offered our assistance. I have been in direct contact multiple times today with Colonel Steve McCraw (ph), the head of the Department of Public Safety. I have asked him earlier in the day to deploy the resources that we had available, both the Texas Rangers, our Department of Public Safety troopers, and the aviation assets to help with the perimeter of the area. And they are continuing to keep me abreast of the situation.
Students in the schools surrounding Ft. Hood are now either gone home for the day, or they are safely situated. So there appears to be no threat to off of the base at this particular time. But there will be some of the students who will be staying at the schools until the military gives the all clear.
Today‘s events are just a reminder for all of us about the important relationship that we have with our military in this state. Texas has always been, generally, and those communities where those military bases are specifically, great support mechanisms for the men and women of our military.
To honor those whose lives have been lost today, I‘ve ordered the flags in our state to be flown at half staff until Sunday. Again, I ask that all of you keep these families and these individuals in your prayers today.
With that, without having any other details, I would like to open it up to those of you in the working media for any questions you may have.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is the latest numbers you‘re hearing, governor?
PERRY: The latest numbers that we have are that there are—there were three shooters. One was killed, two in custody. There‘s upwards of 20 injured. And I think the last number I had nine were killed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What can you tell us about the shooters?
PERRY: I don‘t have any shooter directly about the shooters. I think it‘s a bit premature to be reporting anything that hadn‘t been confirmed from an appropriate source.
I don‘t know. This is one of those instances where we have the right people on the scene. The incident manager for the Department of Public Safety is there. Whether it be an event like a natural disaster of a hurricane, certainly at some point in time I may be on site, but not until I am not a distraction to any of the events that are going on there.
So the right people are on scene at this particular point in time. I talked to the individuals on base who was up range from the event and offered our assistance. So there‘s good communication between the federal authorities. The FBI is on scene now, that‘s my understanding. And between the military and the FBI and the federal authorities, of course, that being a federal reservation, that is the appropriate individuals.
We are there in a support role. And we got great working relationships with those individuals. So they know that we are ready and able to assist in any way that we can.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about other installations? Have you heard about any breach of security?
PERRY: I‘m sure that those installation commanders have taken the appropriate steps to secure those facilities. And what that may be is to each commander. And they have in place the type of activities and security precautions that are appropriate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did the state Homeland Security Department go into any sort of alert or code or something when this happened?
PERRY: It‘s not to my understanding that they have. But then again, that‘s no direct information to me to that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where were you when you heard, governor?
PERRY: We were traveling up here from another event in Dallas.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was right by the readiness center?
PERRY: That is my understanding that it is where they were processing troops. Again, I don‘t want to be too specific, because my details are a bit hazy as well, from the stand point of any specifics of where and when. So I would rather us stick with what we do know. And that is that it‘s my understanding that the situation is under hand. And now they‘re going through the process of identifying the victims, of course, identifying their families.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you talk a little about security on the base?
PERRY: From what standpoint?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some people have said over years it‘s been a little lax.
PERRY: I‘ll leave that to the military authorities. That‘s a federal response. And I think it would be inappropriate for me to be making a statement about security on a federal reservation when that‘s not our duty. And frankly, I would be out of line to do such.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who in the federal government have you been talking to --
PERRY: We have talked to the—what I call the up-range commander. That‘s Colonel Jeffrey Sour (ph). The down rage commander is, of course, General Bolger (ph). He was, again, down range and where he needed to be.
Thank you all for coming today. God bless you and keep these people in your prayers today.
MATTHEWS: Now we‘re getting some information, thanks to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is, in fact, already running against the governor we just, Rick Perry, for the Republican nomination. But that‘s not important right now.
Important right now is she‘s going to be on this show tonight at 7:00, on our 7:00 edition of HARDBALL, Eastern Standard Time.
Senator Hutchison has also been the source for some information about the person we‘re calling the shooter, Major Malik Nadal Hasan. He‘s a 39-year-old U.S. military officer about to be deployed, she says, to Iraq, and just as importantly, not happy about it. Apparently had been taking, according to the senator, some negative comments about his deployment, about the war.
Apparently not a happy guy. He‘s dead now. He apparently was the chief—in fact, perhaps the lone shooter in this tragedy down at Ft. Hood. Ft. Hood is the largest military base in the world right now. It‘s the prime point of deployment for U.S. soldiers heading over to Iraq and Afghanistan. Here we have an officer, who went on a shooting rampage, is dead now, killing 12 people, wounding 31. That‘s 43 people that were shot, perhaps all by him.
And he‘s a man who was said to be, according to the senator down there, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, said to have made remarks, comments around the base that he‘s not happy with having to go to Iraq. And he was about to be sent there.
So maybe we‘re getting the early shadows of a motive, and certainly a profile of the person himself. I want to go to Clint Van Zandt on this information we got from Senator Hutchison. How do you put this together? It seems like it‘s beginning to close on some kind of motive here.
CLINT VAN ZANDT, FMR. FBI PROFILER: Yes, it does, Chris. If her information is correct, it sounds like an individual who may trace his family history to the Middle East, and who saw himself deployed, and as the senator suggested, didn‘t want to go. This is a terrible way to protest an overseas deployment.
MATTHEWS: Clint, hold on. We have Senator Hutchison right now. Senator Hutchison, we‘re quoting you from another source, from Fox News now. Tell us what you know about the nature of this shooter, if you will.
SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON ®, TEXAS: Well, Chris, it‘s a really sad situation. They have confirmed that it is an officer in the military, that he was going to be deployed to Iraq, and was upset about it. I am not going to confirm the name yet, because I want the military to do that when it‘s clear. But it‘s very troubling and very sad.
MATTHEWS: Do they have a sense, when you talk to them, that other people were involved? Apparently there were two other people taken into custody, two other military people.
HUTCHISON: Yes. When I just talked to the general a few minutes ago, they had two more people that they are talking to. They do believe there was at least another shooter. But they cannot confirm that the two they‘re holding were definitely both shooters. They‘re trying to determine that.
They think because of the number of dead and injured that there had to be at least one more, and possibly two. And those people are being questioned right now.
MATTHEWS: It‘s too bad you have to be so close to this, but we have to use this as our reporter, to some extent, senator. Do you know if the other shooters had a similar motive to the main shooter, the officer you just mentioned, who did not want to be deployed over to Iraq?
HUTCHISON: You know, that is a great question. And I don‘t know the answer. I know the military wants to be perfectly clear before they say how many shooters there were, and what their motive was. And I know that they want to get as much information. And they do want to get it out to the public.
I have been talking to generals during the afternoon. And their first responsibility, of course, was to try to stop the shooting and make sure they had everybody that was possibly doing it, which they—I believe they have done now. But they‘re still searching room by room, and to make positively sure.
When the lockdown is lifted, they‘re going to be searching every car that goes out to see if there might be someone else who might have been connected. They‘re being very thorough.
At this point, it‘s a little premature to talk about the motive.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you so much. We‘ll be talking to you hopefully at 7:00, in our 7:00 edition of HARDBALL tonight.
HUTCHISON: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: We won‘t call it HARDBALL. Thank you very much, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, giving us the information about the chief suspect who is dead now. He‘s a senior officer, a major in the Army. We were told his name is Malik Nadal Hasan.
We‘ll be right back with more at 7:00. We‘ll be back as a network in about a minute with continuing coverage on THE ED SHOW with Ed Schultz.
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