Fear of offending Muslims or being insensitive to religion was likely a key factor to why Army supervisors missed signs that the suspect in the deadly Fort Hood shooting rampage was a Muslim extremist, according to national security experts.

Senior Pentagon officials last week sought to play down or sidestep questions about why Army supervisors and FBI counterterrorism officials missed warning signs or failed to take action against Army Maj. Nidal Hasan before the Nov. 5 attack, which killed 13 people — all but one them soldiers.

Rep. Ike Skelton, Missouri Democrat and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a C-SPAN interview Sunday that committee hearings set for Wednesday will examine the two "disconnects" related to Army personnel reports: that Maj. Hasan was promoted despite signs that he had become radicalized, and that intelligence reports indicating the major had terrorism links apparently were ignored.

Patrick S. Poole, a counterterrorism consultant to government and law enforcement, said the Pentagon report did not address the problem of political correctness in the military "that allowed for Maj. Hasan's continued rise despite his poor performance." Mr. Poole said an "atmosphere of intimidation" exists in the military regarding Islamist threats that "prevented any substantive complaints to [Maj. Hasan's] increasingly extremist statements."

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