WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, the court-martial of accused Fort Hood gunman Major Nidal Hasan will creep forward at its glacial pace with a motions hearing to hear defense requests on a change of venue and the makeup of the panel that will potentially hear the case.
Facing 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder — and potentially the death penalty — Hasan’s trial has been delayed several months by his growth of a beard not permitted on service members.
Still, the movement in Hasan’s case is swifter than the move toward any resolution of the grievances of victims and survivors of the Nov. 5, 2009, mass slaying.
Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), whose district includes Fort Hood, told PJM the base is soldiering on, but a recent ABC News interview in which the officer who shot Hasan during the rampage says President Obama has “betrayed” the victims came as no surprise to him.
“Not to the least little bit have the victims been taken care of,” Kimberly Munley said. “In fact, they’ve been neglected.”
Carter just introduced yet again legislation to ensure that the victims and victims’ families in the Fort Hood attack are eligible for the same treatment, benefits, and honors as Americans killed or wounded in an overseas combat zone.
“I know I’ve got the votes if they bring it to the floor,” he said, adding he’s already talking with the majority leader about moving the bill forward. “The administration doesn’t want it to be bought to the floor.”
At issue is the Obama administration’s classification of the attack as “workplace violence” instead of terrorism, which the Pentagon said is vital terminology to not jeopardize the prosecution of Hasan.
Carter is called “Judge” up on the Hill because he served 21 years on the bench before coming to Washington. With seven death penalty cases and countless murder cases under his belt — and a longtime friendship with Army Secretary John McHugh, who has defended the classification — he’s not buying the Defense Department’s argument for avoiding the word terrorism.
“If I couldn’t try a case with somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 to 50 witnesses, I’d be a pretty lousy prosecutor,” Carter said.
His bill is not just about Purple Hearts for wounded soldiers, but opening eligibility for meritorious medals for those who protected others in the shooting rampage.
“It’s about time we meet obligations,” Carter said. “The enemy brought the battlefield to our own hometown.”
A co-sponsor of Carter’s bill, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), slammed the administration in a one-minute floor speech in the House earlier this month, saying Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Obama “have failed the people, and continue to fail the people that were wounded and killed and the families of Fort Hood.”
Today, Wolf told PJM that the proof of Hasan’s terrorist intent can be found in the administration’s own drone strikes.
Hasan had email communications with senior al-Qaeda recruiter and Yemen-based cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, and there are even indications that al-Awlaki was one of the imams at the funeral of Hasan’s mother.
“Major Hasan was connected, influenced by Alwaki,” Wolf said. “The administration thought Awlaki was dangerous enough that they killed him with a drone missile… It’s got to be fairly significant, the fact that they did this to an American citizen.”
“The people at Fort Hood, the wounded have been getting a very, very bad deal with Panetta,” the congressman continued. “It clearly is a terrorist attack. It is not workplace violence and by not calling it that, it’s a failure.”