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Email: "Shooter Advised Obama Transition"

November 25, 2009 12:43 pm ET

The following email has been widely forwarded and has been reposted numerous times on conservative blogs.  Media Matters Action Network has written a response to the text below.  Please feel free to copy and paste it and send to your friends.

"Shooter Advised Obama Transition"

 [note - all mistakes below are original to the text]


Hey there, I'm glad you sent this to me.  I've actually seen this claim before -- and the proof that it's completely untrue.  Unfortunately, this is just another desperate attempt to link President Obama to terrorists. is a nonpartisan, Pulitzer Prize-winning website that rates the accuracy of claims made by liberals and conservatives.  Not surprisingly, they gave this exact email their lowest rating, "Pants On Fire."  They summed up their story by saying, "Once upon a time, [Hasan] attended a conference. End of story." Here's there whole article:

Chain e-mail links supected Fort Hood shooter to Obama

Since the shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, on Nov. 5, 2009, we've been inundated with e-mails about a purported link between President Barack Obama's administration and Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist suspected of the shootings.
Here are a few lines from one of the many versions of the e-mail we received:
"It's been a pretty incredible week and I don't mean in a good way. But today we have been given a glimpse into the New World Order and it's pretty scary," the e-mail begins. After complaining that Obama is pursuing a Muslim agenda, the e-mail says, "Did you know that Major Hassan was an ADVISOR to the Obama Administration? No? Neither did I until my wife found information on line and followed the evidence to the source documents!"
Our friends over at National Public Radio already checked out a version of this claim. The rumor, NPR concluded, started with Jerome Corsi, a writer for World Net Daily and author of The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality. The e-mails we were sent linked to the Corsi story as well.
"Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the alleged shooter in yesterday's massacre at Fort Hood, played a homeland security advisory role in President Barack Obama's transition into the White House, according to a key university policy institute document," Corsi wrote. (We've checked three Corsi claims before and rated two False and one Pants on Fire.)
The story links to a document published by the George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute, a think tank in Washington, D.C., titled "Thinking Anew-Security Priorities for the Next Administration." It is the proceedings from a series of meetings of the organization's Presidential Task Force. On page 29 of the paper, Hasan is listed as a participant; he was one of more than 300 officials, reporters and Capitol Hill aides who signed up for the conference.
In a statement, the think tank confirmed that the Hasan listed as a participant is the same Hasan accused of the Fort Hood shootings. But the statement also makes an important point: Hasan registered for the event on his own. He was not invited, and he attended only as an audience member in his capacity as a psychiatry fellow at the Uniformed Services University School of Medicine.
"All of these events were open to the public," the statement reads. "At no time has Nidal Hasan been affiliated with [the Homeland Security Policy Institute] or The George Washington University."
So, Hasan chose to attend a conference relevant to his field, much like a doctor would attend a conference about diabetes, for example.
But here's the more important point: The task force has nothing to do with the White House, according to Sharon Cardash, associate director of the Homeland Security Policy Institute.
"HSPI's Presidential Transition Task Force is not and was not affiliated at all with the White House," she wrote us in an e-mail. "The Task Force was created prior to the election; and was not formed at the request of any administration."
Indeed, HSPI established the transition task force in April 2008, before Obama was in office, let alone the Democratic presidential nominee. In a city where policy papers are published nearly every day, the work done by the group no more advised the Obama administration than any of the other papers that came out before or after GWU's.
Corsi actually makes this point farther down in his story, which contradicts his headline: "While the GWU task force participants included several members of government, including representatives of the Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, there is no indication in the document that the group played any formal role in the official Obama transition, other than to serve in a university-based advisory capacity."
And in an editor's note to the story, Corsi writes that, "Hasan is being reported as a participant in the GWU Homeland Security Policy Institute's Presidential Transition Task Force, not as a member, noting the group was a university think-tank, not part of the Obama administration official transition team." But it appears that disclaimer came later, and that it failed to stop the avalanche of e-mails spreading the inaccurate report.

Hasan attended a meeting on a subject relevant to his profession, that much is clear. But beyond that, there's nothing to back up the chain e-mail's accusation that he somehow was "an ADVISOR" to the Obama administration or that GWU's task force was involved in the new White House. In fact, the group's work began long before Obama took office and is in no way affiliated with the White House. Another chain e-mail, another Pants on Fire!

I hope this helps put your mind at ease.  If anybody else sends you an email like this, make sure you set the record straight.  Talk to you soon.


Posted in - Viral Email