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Evaluation Raised Concerns About Maj. Hasan In '07


Let's learn more about the suspect now. We have been reporting on concerns about Colonel Nidal Hasan's behavior as an Army psychiatrist. Those concerns were raised long before his alleged shooting rampage at Fort Hood. Now we have confirmation that at least one of his superiors put those concerns in writing.

NPR's obtained an Army memo, a written evaluation of Hasan's work. He was a captain at the time, yet to be promoted to major. The memo portrays him as an incompetent psychiatrist and an unprofessional officer who often neglected his duties and his patients. NPR's Daniel Zwerdling reports.

DANIEL ZWERDLING: The memo is signed by Major Scott Moran. He's the psychiatrist who runs the residency program at Walter Reed. It's written in the dry, careful language of bureaucracies, but this memo is devastating to Nidal Hasan. The memo states, quote, �The faculty has serious concerns about Captain Hasan's professionalism and work ethic. He demonstrates a pattern of poor judgment and a lack of professionalism,� unquote.

Spokesmen at the Pentagon and Fort Hood refuse to comment - so did Hasan's former boss, Scott Moran. So, I showed the document to two respected psychiatrists and they said the memo basically warns that Nidal Hasan could hurt his patients.

Dr. JUDITH BRODER (The Soldiers Project): I would never, ever hire a physician with this kind of a record.

ZWERDLING: Judith Broder runs the Soldiers Project. It's a network of 300 therapists who treat troops for free in southern California. Broder says the memo didn't warn that Hasan might shoot people; it showed that he could damage vulnerable patients by being a bad psychiatrist. For instance, the memo shows that Hasan proselytized to patients. He mishandled a homicidal patient. He allowed her to escape from the emergency room. The memo shows that when Hasan was supposed to be on-call for emergencies, he didn't even answer the phone.

Broder says you can't have a doctor who behaves like that.

Dr. BRODER: This kind of behavior could, in fact, set off a stress reaction. It could be a trigger to a post traumatic stress reaction.

ZWERDLING: In the patient, in the young�

Dr. BRODER: Yeah, yeah.

ZWERDLING: �soldier or Marine.

Dr. BRODER: Yeah, exactly.

Dr. STEVEN SHARFSTEIN (Sheppard Pratt Psychiatric Medical Center): Even if we were desperate for a psychiatrist, we would not even get him to the point where we would invite him for an interview.

ZWERDLING: Dr. Steven Sharfstein runs the Sheppard Pratt Psychiatric Medical Center - it's near Baltimore, Maryland. He says he's been supervising and hiring psychiatrists for 25 years now, and he's seen maybe six other evaluations that were as bad as Nidal Hasan's. Sharfstein announced that the memo does say a couple of positive things about Hasan - at least relatively positive.

The memo states that Hasan is able to self correct with supervision. And Hasan's supervisor writes: I am not able to say he is not competent to graduate. But Sharfstein says when a psychiatrist works with a troubled patient they're in that private room alone. Nobody at the hospital has time to listen in and supervise.

Dr. SHARFSTEIN: Somebody with this pattern of problems - his unreliability and clearly, difficulty with basic competence - would disqualify him.

ZWERDLING: The head of the Solders Project says Moran's memo shows that Walter Reed didn't just fail patients who were treated by Nidal Hasan, Judith Broder says Walter Reed failed Hasan himself.

Dr. BRODER: He was shouting out that he needed help, some kind of psychiatric help, and he should have been given it and not just allowed to go on when he was in such bad shape.

ZWERDLING: A key Senate committee starts hearings today. They're asking who knew what; when and what, if anything, did they do about it?

Daniel Zwerdling, NPR News.

INSKEEP: And we'll bring you more on this story as we learn it on MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Daniel Zwerdling is a correspondent in NPR's Investigations Unit.