On November 5, 2009, an Army psychiatrist, Nidal Malik Hasan, walked into a personnel center at Fort Hood, Texas, and opened fire on his fellow soldiers. Hasan was a muslim. He had a history of radical ties. He had business cards made titling himself “Soldier of Allah.” He communicated with terrorist leaders while on active duty. He killed and wounded soldiers who were processing for deployment to combat.
The reaction of the administration to this attack was to classify it as “workplace violence.” This act not only disguised Hasan’s motives for the crime by making an act of terrorism a common street crime, it also robbed the victims of all manner of legally mandated benefits for soldiers and civilians killed in action or killed by terrorists.
In what might be termed the audacity of nope, the government has declined to call this al Qaeda–inspired mass murder an act of terrorism because to do so would be “unfair to the victims.”
The official reasoning is that it would jeopardize the case because, as stated in a Pentagon memo, “defense counsel will argue that Major Hasan cannot receive a fair trial because a branch of government has indirectly declared that Major Hasan is a terrorist—that he is criminally culpable.”
That has not stopped the government from calling the 9/11 attacks anything but terrorism. The 9/11 memorial at the Pentagon has on display the Purple Heart, the medal awarded to all the soldiers who were killed or injured there that day.
But the Purple Heart has been denied the soldiers who were killed or wounded at Fort Hood. And, because they were classified as victims of simple calamity rather than of combat, they and their families have been denied the accompanying benefits. A number of them say they have not even been able to secure adequate care for their wounds.
Today, the administration righted one grave wrong:
The Army announced Friday that it will award the Purple Heart and its civilian counterpart, the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom, to victims of a 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas.
Thirteen people were killed and more than 30 wounded in the attack by Maj. Nidal Hasan, who was convicted in August 2013, of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder. Hasan is being held on the military death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, while post-trial and appellate processes continue.
In the process they lied in the most egregious manner:
“The Purple Heart’s strict eligibility criteria had prevented us from awarding it to victims of the horrific attack at Fort Hood,” McHugh is quoted as saying. “Now that Congress has changed the criteria, we believe there is sufficient reason to allow these men and women to be awarded and recognized with either the Purple Heart or, in the case of civilians, the Defense of Freedom medal. It’s an appropriate recognition of their service and sacrifice.”
Under a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015, Congress expanded the eligibility for the Purple Heart by redefining what should be considered an attack by a “foreign terrorist organization” for purposes of determining eligibility for the Purple Heart, the Army release said.
The legislation states that an event should now be considered an attack by a foreign terrorist organization if the perpetrator of the attack “was in communication with the foreign terrorist organization before the attack” and “the attack was inspired or motivated by the foreign terrorist organization.”
In a review of the Fort Hood incident and the new provisions of law, the Army determined that there was sufficient evidence to conclude Hasan “was in communication with the foreign terrorist organization before the attack,” and that his radicalization and subsequent acts could reasonably be considered to have been “inspired or motivated by the foreign terrorist organization.”
This is just malarkey. This is a grotesque lie, told by the Secretary of the Army, to shift the blame to the Congress. If the concern was for a fair trial, there was no more prejudice attached by calling the attack a mass murder than an act of terrorism– the idea that you can’t call a murder by the name murder for fear that the defendant couldn’t get a fair trial has an Alice in Wonderland quality about it. Under the regulation in effect at the time of the attack every military member killed or wounded at Fort Hood was entitled to the Purple Heart… and they had been since 1973. From Army Regulation 600-8-22, Military Awards:
a. The Purple Heart was established by General George Washington at Newburgh, New York, on 7 August 1782,
during the Revolutionary War. It was reestablished by the President of the United States per War Department General
Orders 3, 1932 and is currently awarded pursuant to Executive Order 11016, 25 April 1962; Executive Order 12464, 23
February 1984; Public Law 98-525, 19 October 1984 amended by Public Law 100–48, 1 June 19871; Public Law 103-
160, 30 November 1993; Public Law 104-106, 10 February 1996; and Public Law 105-85, 18 November 1997.
b. The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President of the United States and per 10 USC 1131, effective 19
May 1998, is limited to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who, while serving under component
authority in any capacity with one of the U.S. Armed Services after 5 April 1917, has been wounded or killed, or who
has died or may hereafter die after being wounded—
(1) In any action against an enemy of the United States.
(2) In any action with an opposing armed force of a foreign country in which the Armed Forces of the United States
are or have been engaged.
(3) While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in
which the United States is not a belligerent party.
(4) As the result of an act of any such enemy of opposing Armed Forces.
(5) As the result of an act of any hostile foreign force.
(6) After 28 March 1973, as the result of an international terrorist attack against the United States or a foreign
nation friendly to the United States, recognized as such an attack by the Secretary of Army, or jointly by the
Secretaries of the separate armed services concerned if persons from more than one service are wounded in the attack.
(7) After 28 March 1973, as the result of military operations while serving outside the territory of the United States
as part of a peacekeeping force.
In the aftermath of the Fort Hood attack the Secretary of the Army John McHugh had legal and unfettered authority to award Purple Hearts to those killed and wounded at Fort Hood. That authority existed after August 23, 2013 when Hasan was convicted which removed the utter bull**** “fair trial” argument.
The reason is obvious. The administration knew they could be held to blame for allowing Hasan to operate, rather openly, as a muslim radical if the incident were called terrorism. Therefore they called it something else.