National news media put a spotlight on GW’s Homeland Security Policy Institute this weekend after it was revealed that a man who killed 13 people in Texas had attended multiple events hosted by the institute.
Multiple newspapers and blogs picked up the story, noting that U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the military psychiatrist accused of opening fire at the Fort Hood army base in Texas last Thursday, had attended a number of HSPI events. Internet searches and footage of Hasan attending the events linked him with the institute, but HSPI Director Frank Cilluffo said Friday Hasan only attended the events as an audience member.
The coverage prompted a statement from the University, noting that the events Hasan had attended between June 2008 and February 2009 were open to the public and at no time was Hasan affiliated with HSPI or GW.
“There have been a lot of erroneous stories,” Cilluffo said Friday morning, adding that Hasan has “no affiliation [with HSPI], was not a member of the task force, but participated in some of the meetings as an audience member.”
Cilluffo said Hasan attended these HSPI events “in his capacity as a disaster and preventative psychiatry fellow with the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences” – a federal health sciences university which trains its students for “military medicine, disaster medicine and military medical readiness,” according to its Web site.
“We try to err on the side of transparency and make available to everyone who is in attendance at our meetings, and that is I’m sure where the linkage came from,” Cilluffo said.