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American Morning

Fort Hood Shooting Spree Kills 13, Suspect Still Alive; Gunman's Internet Postings Had Been Investigated; U.S. Forces in Afghanistan React to Shooting; Awaiting Big Jobs Report; Past Cases of Soldier on Soldier Violence; Ian's Law

Aired November 06, 2009 - 06:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning. Thanks for joining us on the Most News in the Morning. A sad day this Friday, November the 6th. I'm John Roberts.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kiran Chetry. It sure is. We're following breaking news from Fort Hood, Texas. This is the largest U.S. military post in the world, and unfortunately, the scene of a massacre yesterday. Another person died overnight, and a better picture is emerging this morning of the man now accused of murdering 13 people.

ROBERTS: This surveillance video that you'll see only on CNN is from a nearby convenience store hours before the shooting spree. The store owner says you are looking at the gunman in traditional Muslim clothing apparently starting his day like it was any other.

CHETRY: This alleged gunman has been identified as Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a 39-year-old Army psychiatrist who helped guide fellow soldiers out of the fog of war and despite what we all thought most of the day yesterday, he is still alive.

ROBERTS: Yes. Officers raided his home last night, but we still don't know for sure why he gunned down so many soldiers that he swore an oath to help. A news conference is scheduled from Fort Hood in 90 minutes time. We, of course, will bring you that.

CHETRY: And we are all over this developing story. This morning we're talking to commanders and also some of the first responders that were at that scene. Our team of correspondents standing by around the world. We have Chris Lawrence with reaction from Afghanistan. Barbara Starr has spoken to her sources at the Pentagon, and Randi Kaye has more on the major accused of mass murder and some of the red flags that he may have set off on the web.

But first we start with David Mattingly. He is live at Fort Hood for us this morning. David, what is it like there?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kiran, everyone wondering what happened here because Major Hasan has a career in the military. He'd been in the Army for about a dozen years. He was preparing for his first-ever deployment overseas to Iraq. And right up until the very morning he was not acting like someone who was about to turn violent. We have that exclusive surveillance video that we can show you. He was at a 7-Eleven that very morning wearing traditional Arab or Muslim garb. He was purchasing some coffee. He was smiling and talking to the store clerk just like he did every morning. No indication whatsoever that he might be planning to do something violent here on this post.

Of course, this the largest Army base in the world. He plunged it into chaos with the attacks. He went into the Family Readiness Center. This is a place where soldiers will go in and prepare for deployment before they leave. They have all sorts of things they do inside there. They're very focused on taking care of personal finances.

I've been in some of these deployment centers before where they will be standing in line to get injections for vaccines. Everything you could think of that they prepare for under one roof before they are deployed. That was the scene. A lot of people focusing on things, caught completely by surprise when gunfire rang out.

Authorities saying that Hasan was carrying two handguns, one of them a semiautomatic pistol. You can fire off a lot of rounds there and in a very short period of time. And that's what happened inside this readiness center. But again, up until that very morning, he was not showing any signs that he might be turning violent.


MATTINGLY (voice-over): This exclusive video appears to show the suspected shooter just hours before he allegedly opened fire on a room full of U.S. soldiers. The store owner identified Major Nidal Hasan as a regular at the 7-Eleven, and the 39-year-old psychiatrist appears to be calm, even smiling as he buys his morning coffee. Just seven hours later, the Army says he made his way here to the Family Readiness Center and armed with two handguns, including a semiautomatic, shot and killed 13 people, wounded 30, and plunged the world's largest military post into chaos. The Army has said little more about the man or his motive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've asked for assistance from federal agencies to make sure that we have this investigation right.

MATTINGLY: But we've learned that Hasan might have been known to authorities for some time. Six months ago, federal law enforcement officials reportedly came across an Internet posting signed with Hasan's name discussing suicide bombings and other threats. We've also learned that Hasan was apparently unhappy about his upcoming to Iraq, telling a cousin he was mortified by the idea.

Military records reveal a career that span more than a decade. Born in Virginia, Jordanian descent, Hasan graduated from Virginia Tech in 1997 with a degree in biochemistry. He received his first deployment to the Army that same year. Six years later, he began work at the Walter Reed Medical Center pursuing a career in psychiatry and counseling scores of soldiers with post traumatic stress. Hasan received at least three medals during this time and neighbors near Walter Reed remembered him as easy going. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He seemed so calm, and you know, he was never upset with anything.

MATTINGLY: But there are also reports that Hasan received a bad performance review at Walter Reed and was forced to undergo counseling and increased supervision. His family has also said he was harassed by other soldiers for being Muslim, a frustration that they say caused him to rethink his career in the military.


MATTINGLY: And he had apparently been doing this rethinking since 9/11. That's when he says that this taunting had first begun -- Kiran.

CHETRY: And some of the other questions this morning. Initially investigators thought that perhaps there was other people involved, in fact, three soldiers were taken into custody and then later released. They now say they believe he acted alone, but can you tell us anything more about how that went down? And also, apparently, this civilian female police officer on base who actually exchanged gunfire with Major Hasan?

MATTINGLY: That's right, and she's being called a hero today. She exchanged gunfire with him. She was shot herself. She'd had to go to the hospital for treatment. She is doing well today.

And, again, everyone very impressed with what she was able to do under fire herself during all of this incident. This happened in that readiness center full of people when shots rang out. It had to catch everyone by surprise. It was probably a terrible, terrible scene for everyone in there as he was carrying -- allegedly carrying those handguns, one of them a semiautomatic, able to fire off a lot of rounds in a very short period of time. And, of course, the casualties from that incident tell you just how deadly that was.

CHETRY: David Mattingly for us outside Fort Hood today. Thank you.

ROBERTS: And as David mentioned, authorities are watching alleged gunman Major Nidal Malik Hasan. They reportedly investigated Internet postings that he had made earlier this year. Our Randi Kaye is working her sources and digging deeper into this.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Six months ago, according to media reports, the FBI had an eye on the suspected shooter because of Internet postings that discussed suicide bombings and other threats. An official investigation apparently wasn't opened, but one of the web postings is reportedly a blog that equates suicide bombers with a soldier throwing himself on a grenade to save the lives of his comrades.

I can tell you that he's single, he's not married. And a federal official says Hasan is a U.S. citizen of Jordanian descent. His cousin has told reporters that Hasan has quote, "always been a Muslim and is not a recent convert." He described him as a quote, "good American" and said Hasan had been harassed for being Middle Eastern by some in the military.

The cousin said Hasan was trying to leave the military and did not want to be sent to Iraq. Now one of his colleagues, a colonel at Fort Hood, told some members of the media that Hasan had said things like maybe the Muslims should stand up and fight against the aggressors and even suggested people should strap bomb on themselves and go to Times Square in New York City. This colonel told reporters Hasan grew more agitated when President Obama decided not to pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

And there's more. Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison told CNN that Hasan was supposed to be deployed to Iraq later this month, November 28th. She also said that he was unhappy about it and had been targeting and shooting the people that he knew there.

ROBERTS: All right. Randi Kaye reporting for us this morning. Let's give you a lay of the land here and tell you where Fort Hood is. It is the largest military post in the world. This is Texas, Dallas, Waco, Austin. Let's zoom in and show you exactly where Fort Hood is here on the map.

If we can get that to come in here. So here it is sort of situated partway between Austin and Waco. And the area where the shooting took place here is in what's called the Soldier Readiness Center. Give you the lay of the land here.

This is the home of the First Cavalry Division. This is their division headquarters right over here. This is the Soldier Development Center. This really is the series of classrooms. This is where they learn how to become soldiers, take up a course.

This, as we understand from talking to people on post, is the readiness center adjacent to some ball fields. This is where the shooting took place. At the time, there were soldiers who were inside who were going through medical check-ups, dental check-ups in preparation for being deployed overseas. At the same time in this area just over here where the ball fields are, there was a graduation ceremony going to take place about half an hour after the shooting began. There were 138 soldiers who were there, some 600 family members.

Just to tell you a little bit about this post, as well, as we said, it's enormous. It's 330 square miles. It's home to a total of 71,000 people.

Here's Killeen, Texas over here. Of the 71,000 people, 42,000 of those are soldiers, 17,000 family members. So this is literally the size of a moderate-sized city in the United States. So you can imagine the level of chaos there as the news of the shooting broke out, a number of schools on post, as well.

Everything had to be locked down. And when you're dealing with this enormous space here, that's really a massive undertaking.

Our Chris Lawrence has been to Fort Hood many times. He is with us now live from Kabul, Afghanistan. What are your impressions, first of all, of the post and what happened there, Chris?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John. I remember thinking as we were driving around it, like I thought, wow, this is bigger than a lot of cities that I've been to. We were actually talking to some of the soldiers who were getting out of the military. And to give you an idea of the size of Fort Hood, about 1,000 soldiers every month process out of the military there just from that base alone.

I remember we were at this center, you know, going through some of the things with some of the soldiers and we had to go interview someone at the motor pool. We must have driven for 40 minutes, and we were still on the base. And that gives you an idea just how large and expansive this place is. Restaurants, movie theaters, car repair shops, Fort Hood is like a small city.

ROBERTS: Yes. You know, Chris, you just came back from an embed with U.S. forces there in the Kandahar region. We know that soldiers from the First Cavalry Division have seen so many repeated deployments both to Afghanistan and to Iraq. Are there any soldiers there from Fort Hood in country right now?

LAWRENCE: From what I'm able to determine, there are about 1,000 give or take. I don't want to get pinned down on that number. That's a small number compared to how big Fort Hood is. But the reason for that is last year in 2008, nearly every combat unit from Fort Hood was involved in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan. So this is kind of their down year back home before some of them start redeploying next year.

I did reach out to a couple of people, not Fort Hood soldiers, but just soldiers who are deployed here in Afghanistan by e-mail just to give their impression. One person told me he was just -- he just couldn't believe it, you know. He just said for that to happen on an American base, he said, you know, if that happened here in Afghanistan, I could sort of understand it, but not there.

There was some anger. Another soldier said, you know, I'm just glad the blank blank is still alive. But again, because telephone, Internet service can be so spotty here, these soldiers are out in combat. It may take a couple of days for even news this big to really saturate the country and really get to all the troops out there -- John.

ROBERTS: All right. Chris Lawrence live for us in Kabul, Afghanistan this morning. Chris, thanks so much.

You know, Kiran, as Chris was mentioning, there are some soldiers who say they could understand if an incident happened like this in country. And we all remember what happened just a few days before the Iraq war in March of 2003, the 101st Airborne, there was that fragging (ph) incident where a disgruntled Marine -- or disgruntled soldier, rather, threw a grenade into a tent. But the fact that this was somebody who was back here in the United States, had never been deployed before, and was a medical doctor, psychiatrist in charge of treating people with stress really has people completely baffled. CHETRY: Yes. And there are some questions, though, about whether or not there were warning signs and red flags and we're going to be talking about that later today, as well. There are many people who report just based on what we've gathered over the past couple of hours that he didn't make a secret of being unhappy about the potential deployment to Iraq. So we're going to talk more about that throughout the morning, as well.

And we're going to have much more on this story as it develops throughout the morning. As we said, coming up in just a few minutes, we're going to be speaking with retired Army General Russel Honore. He once served at Fort Hood. And also Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. She'll be joining us with the latest information that she's received from the post.

Meantime, though, at 12 1/2 minutes past the hour, other stories making news this morning. President Obama delaying a meeting with House Democrats today to discuss health care reform. Instead, he'll be visiting soldiers wounded at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The White House says the trip was pushed back a day to be closer to Saturday night's scheduled vote and was actually planned before the deadly shootings at Fort Hood.

ROBERTS: Swine flu is now more prevalent than seasonal flu around the world. The world health organization reporting 70 percent of the flu virus is being detected in some countries are H1N1. Officials say most people have recovered from the illness without medical treatment and they are continuing to see the most severe cases in people under the age of 65 who are not usually at risk during regular flu season.

CHETRY: And those two Northwest Airlines pilots who overshot their landing by 150 miles last month have now filed appeals to get their licenses back. It could take up to four months for the National Transportation Safety Board to consider that request. The FAA revoked their licenses after they failed to respond to radio calls for more than 90 minutes. Captain Tim Cheney and First Officer Richard Cole told investigators that they got distracted because they were looking at their laptops in the cockpit.

ROBERTS: We're going to live back to Fort Hood in just a couple of minutes to talk with Lieutenant General Bob Cone right after the break. Stay with us.

Fourteen minutes now after the hour.


CHETRY: Sixteen minutes past the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

Breaking news coming to us from Fort Hood, Texas, today where authorities tell us that yet another person has died overnight as a result of the massacre yesterday afternoon. Now, 13 people victims of the deadliest shooting ever at a military post in the United States and despite what we heard yesterday, the accused gunman is still alive. There was a late night raid on his home and we're expecting an update from army officials at 7:30 Eastern time. We'll bring you that live from Fort Hood.

Well, people on the sprawling army post are in a state of shock this morning, understandably, in the process of - of trying to understand what happened is still ongoing today.

ROBERTS: Yes. There are countless questions how this could've happened and what could've motivated the shooter. Today is a day of mourning at Fort Hood, obviously. The post, the city onto itself, as we said, home to more than 65,000 soldiers and their families along with civilian personnel. Joining us now from Fort Hood, Texas, the post commander, Lieutenant General Bob Cone. He's with us along with Colonel Kent Savre who's the Commanding Officer of the 36th Engineer Brigade, which was the - the brigade that had some of the victims of yesterday's shooting.

Gentlemen, thanks for being with us this morning. General, let me ask you first, what do we know, what are we learning this morning about Nidal Malik Hasan that we didn't know prior to this?

LT. GEN. ROBERT CONE, COMMANDER, FORT HOOD: The investigation continues overnight. We have both the FBI here and military law enforcement officials, and that investigation is ongoing at his personal residence, and I think we'll continue to bring in more expertise as necessary throughout the course of the day.

CHETRY: I also want to ask you, Colonel, what - how did you learn of this? What was happening at the time when this went down?

COL. KENT SAVRE, COMMANDING OFFICER, 36TH ENGINEER BRIGADE: Well, actually, I personally was in the area. I was next door at the theater for the ceremony - graduation ceremony when I heard about the event. But then I very quickly got reports from soldiers in my unit.

CHETRY: And as we understand, there was a civilian female police officer who actually exchanged gunfire. What do we know about how she may have helped the situation, 13 people killed, obviously a tragedy, but there were some who witnessed what went down and said it could have been way worse.

CONE: Yes. Officer Dunnley (ph) is a trained active first responder and just happened very fortunately to be very close to the incident scene. Her and her partner responded very quickly and in this relatively short response time - we think it was somewhere around three minutes is what's been reported to me - just happened to encounter the gunman and she, in an exchange of gunfire - she was wounded, but wounded the - the shooter four times.

ROBERTS: General...

CONE: Again, a really - pretty amazing and aggressive performance by this police officer.

ROBERTS: Yes. Amazing. Quick thinking on her part even though she was wounded herself. General, we talked with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison from Texas yesterday who told us that she had - had information that this - this Major Hasan was upset about his pending deployment, didn't want to go, had tried to actually get out of the military. What can you tell us about that?

CONE: I don't have information regarding Major Hasan and, again, I'm not going to - going to talk about that. A lot of it's speculation and I know that's part of the investigation and as the commander here at Fort Hood, I'm somewhat distanced from that.

CHETRY: Can we get back just for one second? When you talked about the - Officer Dunnley (ph) firing those four shots at - at Major Hasan, is that what eventually brought him down? I mean, after that he was no longer able to shoot anymore?

CONE: That's correct. That was - that was I think a critical factor here, was her quick response to the situation.

ROBERTS: Colonel Savre, as our Chris Lawrence was saying from Kabul just a few minutes ago, he talked to some of the soldiers who were deployed over there now saying, well, you know, they could sort of fathom the idea of - of somebody snapping if they're - they're in country and subjected to the stress, the constant stress of war.

You know, we did see, again, that fragging incident just before the start of the Iraq war in the 101st Airborne Division. But the fact that this was somebody who was stateside, this was a doctor, somebody who was actually treating returning soldiers for post traumatic stress, this - it just adds a - a completely different level of an inability to understand what's going on. Could you comprehend how this might have happened?

SAVRE: Yes. I don't think anybody can really comprehend what goes through someone's mind in - in a tragedy like this. All I know is that my soldiers that were at the site, like well-trained soldiers, reacted very professionally and calmly and there was really some heroic actions that took place at that soldier processing site that I think actually saved lives.

ROBERTS: And General Cone, you know, so much attention is - is focused on soldiers who were returning from the battlefield, but does this incident illuminate that there may be another problem that the military is not aware of, that the people who are actually treating these returning warriors might need to be monitored themselves, might need to - to have some sort of counseling? They might be prone to some sort of problems, as well.

CONE: I think that's very clear and we have a comprehensive approach in regard to behavioral and mental counseling that looks at the broader population, not just focused on - on those individuals. I would say last night I was with - at the hospital with Colonel Savre and visited a number of his troops and I think it's probably the most inspiring thing that you've seen.

I met a young man who'd been shot four times and with a fairly large caliber weapon, and he was one tough young man and basically recounted the - the incident. I also met a young lady who was shot and basically didn't realize she was shot, became involved in helping carry other soldiers out from the shooting area and taken to medical care, took off her blouse and put a tourniquet on another soldier's leg and then finally when she was finished realized - she looked down at her own hip and realized that she'd been shot.

I find this almost inspiring when you - when you really understand what happened at this site yesterday.

CHETRY: And, you know, the heroics no doubt are - not to mean that we're trying to diminish in any way and you're right about that, but just some more questions about how it could have happened.

And General, one of the things that CNN's own reporting found out is that this major had actually had conversations with the convenience store owner about how unhappy he was at a pending deployment and about how he felt, perhaps that he was unable to fight against fellow Muslims, and just something that - that perhaps many are wondering today is are these the types of questions that you may ask somebody who's very, very religious and as you can see there, he's in a traditional Muslim garb. Do you ask those types of questions of - of some people that are facing deployment, does your religion, or do your beliefs prevent you from taking on this deployment?

CONE: Right. Well, there is such a thing as - as a valid conscientious objector status, but I would point out that there are many American Muslims who served our armed forces very honorably, both in or out in Afghanistan. So I think - I think there's a mechanism there to identify those who are in fact conscientious objective - objectors.

CHETRY: All right. Well, we want to thank both of you for joining us this morning, Lieutenant General Bob Cone as well as Colonel Kent Savre. Thank you.

ROBERTS: We've got lots of other news to tell you about this morning. One of the things that we're expecting a little bit later on today, about two hour's time, is the big jobs report, what is the unemployment level in the United States going to be? A lot of people predicting 10 percent. Our Christine Romans is taking a look at the pending numbers coming right up.

It's now coming up on 25 minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

Christine Romans is here "Minding Your Business." It's 26 minutes past the hour, and we're waiting for some big numbers today, the unemployment figures that come out.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Literally big numbers, right? Jobs numbers about two hours from now. We could be very close to 10 percent unemployment in this country. That is a labor part (ph) market that is not providing opportunity for people. It is a very serious situation for policy makers and for you guys at home who've been telling us how difficult this is.

You can see how rapidly that unemployment rate has risen since December 2007 when this recession began. Here, though, is something very interesting. Job losses are slowing, and this is key. When you look at the pace and the scope of the job losses, we're expecting maybe 175,000 jobs lost in the most recent month. That's likely the fewest number of jobs lost, folks, in more than a year.

So you're going to be able to slice and dice these numbers a couple of different ways. I'm going to guarantee you the Democrats are going to say, look, wow! This is getting better, or at least not as bad. Republicans are going to say we now have job loss this year that are more than jobs lost last year under this president. So you're going to hear people try to use this politically. I'm just telling you, this is still - still a very serious situation, but pace of the jobs lost is slowing, but we could be very close to 10 percent unemployment.

One quick point, earlier this week we got a productivity number, 9.5 percent. What that means is that you and I, all of us are working a lot harder and getting a lot more - your company, if you have your job, is getting a lot more work out of you every hour. That would - that seem a very negative thing, we're all being sort of worked to death, if you do have your job, but on the other side of that, companies can only do that for so long. When business starts to get better, that means we're all so stretched they're going to have to start to hire.

So we're going to talk a little bit more about that.

ROBERTS: Takes - takes a long time to slow this ship down and turn it around, but, you know, we talk about unemployment being a lagging indicator...

ROMANS: That's right.

ROBERTS: ... but, you know, looking at the job loss, it's shrinking, we may be getting near the end?

ROMANS: We - job losses are definitely shrinking. It will be a period of more months before employers start actually adding jobs.

CHETRY: (INAUDIBLE) an economist at the University of Maryland said, look with the GDP up, consumer spending up, we shouldn't have these job losses. It should have stopped by now.

ROMANS: Small companies - small companies don't have the credit, so they can't hire people right now. They can't add workers. Big companies are very likely to start looking overseas to add jobs first because it's cheaper. So that's something to think of as things starts to turn around.

ROBERTS: Christine, thanks. "Minding Your Business" this morning.

We're going to continue our coverage of the shooting at Fort Hood coming up in the next few minutes. We're going to talk to General Russell Honore who's the Deputy Commander of the 1st Cavalry Division in the last 1990s, and also Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in just a few minutes.

It's coming up now 29 minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

We're just crossing the half hour now, and following the breaking news out of Fort Hood, Texas. Authorities tell us another person has died overnight. Thirteen people now victims of the deadliest shooting ever at an American military installation and targeted allegedly by one of their own.

This surveillance video obtained exclusively by CNN is from a nearby convenience store in Killeen just hours before the shooting spree. The store's owner telling CNN that the man in the picture is Major Nidal Malik Hasan, an army psychologist.

CHETRY: That's right. And joining me on the phone right now is Lt. Gen. Russell Honore, a retired army general who during his career served as deputy commander of the first cavalry division at Fort Hood.

Thanks for being with us this morning, General Honore.

LT. GEN. RUSSELL HONORE, RETIRED ARMY GENERAL (via telephone): Good morning.

CHETRY: I want to start with the suspect here. This is Major Hasan, and our research is showing that there perhaps were some warning signs. Some of his relatives saying that he was unhappy, that he wanted out of the military. His cousin saying that he was distress about pending deployment to Iraq, and one of our own producers even talking to this convenience store owner who said that he told this convenience store owner that he was upset about having to potentially fight fellow Muslims.

How should these potential red flags be handled in a military post environment?

HONORE: You know, Kiran, normally they are handled, and it'll be interesting to see what's all of his record and his chain of command is interviewed as to how they were dealing with him, and his refusal or not wanting to go and fight. I think that will come out in the investigation. But, look, we deploy thousands of troops a week to Afghanistan and Iraq, and few of them really want to go. And many times that counseling and that motivation by fellow soldiers, get him on the planning to go off and do their mission and do it very successful as we've seen over the last eight years. But to what degree this individual has performed the formal paperwork, as General Cone spoke to, utterly there is a process to do that. That is yet to be scene.

CHETRY: And, you know, and you bring up a good point. You talk about these thousands of troops that go overseas and fight whether they want to or not. A lot of them returning to Fort Hood. They're being shot at or shooting others in Iraq and Afghanistan. They come back and they start retraining again for the next deployment in a year or less.

Do we need to get real about just how much more we can expect our volunteer army to do? To keep up this pace of stressful conditions fighting these two wars?

HONORE: Kiran, you bring up a great point that the American people need the answer. And this is a question for the American people and the more they know about the army. Because this army and Marine Corps, all of our uniform services have been repetitively deployed. We had new sense going into this some eight years ago now that we would still be at war and our troops would have had faced so many repeated deployments. And it's time for this to be an issue with the American people on how much and how long are we going to fight overseas in two wars set on American interest? Because the day these soldiers when they come back, I've talked to they get disgruntled because they're at war and the rest of America isn't at war.

CHETRY: Right, right. Absolutely. And also, just on the issue of some of the stress and some of the terrible incidents that have happened. There was another shooting last September at Fort Hood, another soldier right off base going to a home of another soldier. That soldier shot and killed the fellow soldier and then killed himself. There were also ten suicides at Fort Hood last year.

Is enough being done to address the mental health issues of these soldiers?

HONORE: Well, this is such an important issue. Everyone from the chairman to secretary of Defense, to the army has designated general, the vice chief staff of the army as a special project the Spearhead Programs are not without any resource constraint. Meaning they can spend all of the money they need to spend to fix this. And Fort Hood has one of the better and more progressive programs to deal with this. But, Kiran, the problem, will they outpace our capability to touch every soldier at the right point in time? But we are trying hard, and I say that would bring loosely. This is an army family issue, and all of the army is concern whether it include those that are retired.

CHETRY: Absolutely. Lt. Gen. Russell Honore, great to get your perspective on this tragedy this morning. Thanks.

ROBERTS: As Kiran mentioned just a moment ago, this is not the first time that there's been violence on a military installation. Our Carol Costello takes a look back at some of the other incidence as we try to figure out what can be done to stop it from happening in the future.

It's 35 minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

We're continuing to follow the breaking news out of Fort Hood, Texas, today. Thirteen people now dead in the deadliest shooting ever at a military post in the United States. The suspect, Major Nadal Malik Hasan survived, is in custody and in stable condition with gunshot wounds.

CHETRY: Sadly we've seen tragedies like this before in the military when a soldier turns against some of their own. Our Carol Costello joins us live now from Washington with more.

Good morning, Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kiran. Sadly this is not unusual. As you said, this isn't the first time we've seen soldier on soldier violence. Before the invasion in Iraq in 2003, another Army sergeant who had been deployed to Kuwait ahead of the war was convicted of throwing a grenade into a tent filled with fellow soldiers killing two officers and wounding 14 more servicemen. During military court testimony, witnesses said the soldier, Sergeant Hasan Akbar, a convert to Islam admitted he carried out the attack because he believed the U.S. military would kill fellow Muslims during the invasion.

This is also not the first time a mass killing has struck the Fort Hood area. Back in '91, a man drove his pickup truck through the front window of a movie cafeteria, then he got out of his truck, opened fire with a semiautomatic pistol, ultimately leaving 23 people dead, resulting in the deadliest shooting rampage in American history until the Virginia Tech massacre two years ago.

ROBERTS: Now people are asking questions this morning, and a lot of this falls out of an interview with his aunt that was done with the "Washington Post." And that is -- could his work as a psychiatrist counseling soldiers who encountered stress in the battlefield have contributed to, you know, this alleged attack that he perpetrated?

COSTELLO: A lot of experts say, yes. It could have contributed to this violence. Fort Hood, you'll remember, is the army's largest base. It has more than 50,000 people who live and work there. It has actually suffered the highest number of suicides among army installation since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

And as for Major Hasan, he heard many stories from soldiers returning from war, horrible stories. Doctors say psychiatrists like Hasan can sometimes develop mental illness after hearing account after account of the horrors on the battlefield. And remember, he worked at Walter Reed. He saw some terrible injuries there. Of course, a lot of people would say no excuses there. But that said, Hasan did exhibit some potential warning signs leading up to yesterday's attack.

At least six months ago, Hasan came to the attention of law enforcement officials because of internet postings, in which he compared -- in which he talked about suicide bombings and other threats. However, a formal investigation had not been open before the shooting, and this morning, many are asking how potential warning signs from Hasan did not trigger a more immediate response.


DR. CHARLES SOPHY, PSYCHIATRIST: This guy was really sending out some red flags. He had a lot of anxiety. And today was definitely a trigger for him. But he did not know himself. And that's a concern. He does not have that internal ability to cope and clearly should've reached out for help and should've known to reach out for help. It's really very disturbing.


COSTELLO: After nine years of war in a military spread thin, Fort Hood and the entire military are feeling the strain of repeated deployments. An estimated 30 percent of those returning from combat suffer mental health symptoms like depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress. That's according to Army Mental Health Surveys

Carol Costello for us this morning. Carol, thanks so much for that.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas joins us right after the break. Stay with us for that. It's 41 minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

We're waiting on a news conference from Fort Hood, Texas, where a gunman opened fire yesterday killing 13 people. This is a live picture right now at Fort Hood where this news conference is scheduled to begin at 7:30 Eastern Time, about 45 minutes from now, and we will bring it to you live when it happens.

ROBERTS: Overnight, the death toll continued to climb. 13 people now dead in that Fort Hood shooting. It may be sometime before we know exactly what motivated the suspected gunman, but we're beginning to get a clearer profile of Army Major Nadal Malik Hasan.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison joins us this morning live from Texas. She's been giving briefings on the latest developments.

Senator, you were one of the first to report to us that Hasan was about to be deployed and was upset about that. What can you tell us more about that, and potentially, a possible motive behind yesterday's tragic shooting?

SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R), TEXAS: Well, of course, we don't know the motive. But since he is alive, certainly we will learn much more when he is able to be interrogated. But, of course, the fact that he was getting ready to be deployed and certainly had this history as you have mentioned earlier of talking to people who have come back begins to form a picture, that's for sure.

I had been talking to General Cone and I know you did this morning, as well. I think the stories of heroism are what we're going to hear today. The people who risked their lives to save others and carried people out and try to get them treated is really stunning.

I talked to General Cone last night at about 10:00 or 10:30. He was at the hospital visiting the wounded soldiers. And he said it was just remarkable and very uplifting.

ROBERTS: Yes. You know, in particular, this young police officer who while wounded herself managed to get off enough shots to take this guy down, and at least put him out of commission. You know, there was so much that we don't know about Hasan, but as you said, a picture is starting to form.

But people are asking questions this morning. You know, we hear about traumatic stress among service members who are returning from the front lines. And we know about that fragging incident just prior to the Iraq war in 2003 when an objector to the war tossed a grenade in to the tent of some of his colleagues. But people just - they're asking questions this morning about, this is a doctor who is supposed to be treating people for stress. How could this have possibly happened?

HUTCHISON: I think the point was made that he, of all people, should have known if he was losing it. And one thing -- I am, of course, the ranking member on Veterans Affairs Appropriations Committee and the Military Construction Committee, and one thing that I have talked to many in the army about, they are stressing now much more that it's not weak to say you need help.


HUTCHISON: And I think that's why more people are stepping up and saying, you know, I really need help. The posttraumatic stress syndrome is being very much a priority in our health care system now. Both in active duty, returning people from the war, and then also in our veterans community. And I think that that is bringing more people out and they are stressing that this is a sign of strength not weakness. And I think that's making a difference. But that is exactly what needs to be stressed here. If you need help, go get it, and then you'll be strong.

ROBERTS: So Senator, what effect do you think the fact that this fellow was a psychiatrist, who allegedly portrait to just shoot him might have on all of that? I know a military commander whom I won't name who is heavily involved in PTSD and TBI initiatives. And his daughter said yesterday "daddy is encouraging people to go see a psychiatrist." Who is going to see one now?

HUTCHISON: Oh, I think that what they're saying to the troops is sinking in because more are seeking help. And that's exactly the right thing to do. And I think they will go even though this is -- this is going to have other -- this is going to have other facets, John. This is not just a psychiatrist and a person who has gone off. There are going to be other facets to this.

I think the major focus is going to be this is the reason that you need to go in and get help. You need everyone needs to realize if they aren't themselves, that they're doing things that they haven't done, that the strong thing to do so that you can stay in the service and be a healthy citizen is to go in and get this fixed so that you can have your normal life when you come back or stay in the military if you want to.

I've talked to a lot of people who, you know, I've been to Iraq this year, been to Afghanistan. These soldiers know how important this is. And what we're doing is trying to keep freedom in America to keep America from being attacked. And they have a great attitude and most of them want to come back and they want to serve again. But I think we do need to make sure that we're helping them with any mental health problems and also that we aren't over deploying.

And that's why President Bush, you know, increased the troop strength of the army and marines so that we would have 50,000 more and not over use our active duty and guard and reserve. And that's what we need to, I think, continue to question and assure that we're not over deploying.

ROBERTS: Yes. No question. There are a lot of big issues that are raised by this. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson it's always good to talk to you. Thanks for joining us this morning.

HUTCHISON: Thank you, John.

ROBERTS: And don't forget we're standing by for that news conference coming our way about 40 minutes time. It'll be at 7:30 Eastern from Fort Hood.

CHETRY: Also, we brought you the story here on AMERICAN MORNING about a disabled man named Ian whose insurance company considered him quote "one of the dogs" and tried to drop him. He fought back. We'll bring you an update. 49 minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. And we continue to follow the latest developments from Fort Hood, Texas. Thirteen people now dead in the deadliest shooting ever at a military post in the United States.


ROBERTS (voice-over): Right now, you're looking at surveillance video from a nearby convenience store, this is Killeen, Texas where the only network that has this video. The owner of the convenience store says this is the accused gunman hours before the shooting. It's about 6:30 in the morning yesterday, buying coffee and hash browns like he does most days.

CHETRY (voice-over): Yes. He also told one of our producers, interestingly enough that this major Hasan told him he was upset about the prospect of having to be deployed to Iraq and possibly fight fellow Muslims.

ROBERTS (voice-over): Yes. And tried to get out of the military, apparently, thought about buying his way out but found that even if he tried to do that, he wouldn't be able to avoid at least one deployment.


ROBERTS (on-camera): We'll be back to our breaking news coverage in just a moment, but we got an a.m. follow-up for you this morning.

Last month, we introduced to you Ian Pearl. He suffers from muscular dystrophy and was on the verge of losing his medical insurance when his story appeared on CNN. The company did an abrupt about-face.

CHETRY: Yes. Now, New York state lawmakers are drafting a bill in his honor known as Ian's law designed to prevent insurers from dropping high-cost policies. Jim Acosta has been following the story. And, you know, I mean, it was so sad to hear his story. And to know that, you know, he really had no way to pay for his around the clock health care without the help of his insurance company. And now a bright spot.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Every once in a while you get to do a story about somebody who is making a difference. Ian Pearl is one of those stories. And Ian Pearl has news for the insurance companies. What he has started in the state of New York, he hopes to take across the country.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Ian Pearl fought his insurance company and won. And now, he's taking on the nation's health care system.

IAN PEARL, MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY PATIENT: I've been confined to a wheelchair since I was 6 years old but that never stopped me.

ACOSTA: Last month, the 37-year-old, with muscular dystrophy was just weeks away from losing his health insurance. His insurance company Guardian had canceled his plan as part of a sweeping move to drop a slew of high-cost policies. Guardian acknowledged one of its employees sent this e-mail that referred to Ian's policy as one of the dogs the company could get rid of to save money.

PEARL: Disabled people are not dogs.

ACOSTA: One day after our interview aired, the company reversed its decision, apologized, and restored Ian's policy, but the story didn't end there.

ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN, NEW YORK STATE SENATE: We're here today to send a very simple message. Everyone has to play by the rules.

ACOSTA: Now, New York state lawmakers want to pass what they call Ian's law. Legislation aimed at preventing insurers from dropping entire groups of policies in the hopes of driving off high- cost customers.

SCHNEIDERMAN: I'm confident that with New York leading the way, we'll pass these laws all over the country. PEARL: I found out that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) it was when you announced it on CNN and I couldn't believe it then. It was breathtaking.

ACOSTA: Because of Ian's condition, he couldn't make it to the news conference, so we talked to him by video conference.

What is this law going to mean to you?

PEARL: What this law is going to mean to me is that no one, including me, will never have to fight an illness and fight an insurance company at the same time.

ACOSTA: Ian's mother hopes the law will protect the disabled and their families from crushing health care costs. Without their insurance, the Pearl family would've paid more than $1 million a year out of pocket to continue Ian's round the clock nursing care.

SUSAN PEARL, IAN PEARL'S MOTHER: Ian's life has been a series of miracles. We're hoping that Ian's law will be the next one.

PEARL: (INAUDIBLE) necessary is that the insurance industry at large might not have as much integrity as the people who are sick.


ACOSTA (on-camera): Now, Ian's insurance company Guardian released a statement saying it agrees with the spirit of Ian's law. And now as for his family, they're not stopping with the state of New York. They want to see Ian's law voted on in state houses nationwide. And john and Kiran, this is critically important they say because if the federal government, the congress and the White House fail to pass health care reform, laws like this might be necessary around the country in individual states. So, they want to make sure that that happens.

CHETRY: Right.

ROBERTS: You know what's great, though, is that as congress is debating health care and trying to increase people's coverage and, you know, not have them dropped for preexisting conditions, you're getting results.


ROBERTS: And that's really terrific.

ACOSTA: It's a good feeling. Every once in a while that happens.

CHETRY: Jim Acosta, of course. Good to see you in person.

ACOSTA: Good to see you.

CHETRY: Thank you for being here this morning.

Also, you can read about it on Jim's blog, Ian's law at our Web site,

And meanwhile, we do have another a.m. update for you this morning. It's on the Iraq war veteran fighting to keep his wife who was brought here illegally when she was a small child from being deported. We told you about the story yesterday. Seven hours after our report aired, army specialist, Jack Barrios (ph) and his wife, Frances (ph) got some very good news.


UNKNOWN FEMALE: It is an honor, it's a privilege for me to be able to tell you that, as of today, the Department of Homeland Security has joined in requesting that your deportation proceedings be terminated. That means there will not be any more deportation proceedings against you. The Citizenship and Immigration Services has granted you wife parole, which means that you can now give legal permanent resident status without her having to go to Guatemala, congratulations.

CHETRY (voice-over): She looks a little bit shocked, but they're cheering up a little bit. But man, what a relief it must be for this family. Frances Barrios (ph) as we said was brought to the U.S. illegally by her parents as a child. She didn't even find out about that until she was in high school. And again, he was just so upset at the thought of his wife having to go back, leave their family, leave their children. And there she is, crying with relief that the deportation hearings are, as they said on -- have been stopped and --


ROBERTS: Yes. She's been paroled. You know what's interesting is that they've been fighting this for a long time. I saw this story in the "L.A. Times" a week ago and said let's get on this story. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) yesterday is between the L.A. Times report and our report, something happened. Why didn't something happen before that?

CHETRY: I mean, for this family--

ROBERTS: That's the big question.

CHETRY: Yes. For this family, a happy ending. Thank goodness for that.

ROBERTS: We should get some results this morning. A couple of feel good stories with Jim Acosta.

The latest on Fort Hood, unfortunately, not all the news is good this morning. 13 people now dead. We're back live in 90 seconds with the latest.