Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) introduced a companion bill in the Senate on May 8. That bill is co-sponsored by the home-state senators of the shooting locations: Republican Sens. John Boozman (Ark.), John Cornyn (Texas), Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), and Mark Pryor (Ark.).
“Congress has historically acted to ensure that the recognition we award to our servicemembers keeps pace with the threats they face,” Lieberman said at its introduction. “The war on terrorism continues at home, and we must face the reality that radicalized individuals and groups within the United States have targeted and will continue to target our men and women in uniform.”
Soon after the Fort Hood attack, Lieberman called it “the most destructive terrorist attack on America since September 11, 2001.”
It was King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, who got the language in the House version of the defense authorization bill. The Senate is still working on its version.
“Military personnel here in the U.S. have become a target-of-choice for the Islamist terrorists we have battled since 9/11,” King said. “There have been at least 34 domestic terrorism threats, plots, or attacks against U.S. military communities since 2001.”
Carter, who represents the Fort Hood area, originally introduced Purple Heart legislation just days after the attack in the 111th Congress. He praised the inclusion of King’s language as a “step closer to victory.”
“There is no excuse for this having taken so long,” said Carter last week. “The Department of Defense could have immediately granted combat status to the Fort Hood victims under the same authority DOD used to grant that status to the 9-11 casualties at the Pentagon. The refusal is pure politics on the behalf of the Obama administration in seeking to deny a radical Islamic terror attack on U.S. soil under their watch as a result of force-protection vulnerabilities due to political-correctness.”
The administration brushing off the terrorism aspect of the tragedies has long raised the ire of Lieberman and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), respectively chairman and ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, who called on Obama in a 2011 report to develop a strategy to combat domestic Islamist extremism.
Announcing the findings of that probe into Fort Hood, Collins slammed the Pentagon for failing to act on Hasan’s “obvious radicalization” and the Washington Joint Terrorism Task Force for its four-hour investigation into Hasan’s terror ties. “That is all the time that that the Washington JTTF spent investigating whether a military officer in communication with a known terrorist suspect amounted to a national security threat,” she said. “This hasty decision to close the investigation cost the government its last, best chance to identify the threat posed by Major Hasan and to potentially prevent the November 2009 attack.”
When the White House issued that plan in December, the two senators said the plan fell short and noted it didn’t even designate one agency “to coordinate operations and ensure accountability and effectiveness of the national effort to counter violent Islamist extremism at home.”
“We also continue to be disappointed by the Administration’s refusal to identify violent Islamist extremism as our enemy,” Lieberman and Collins wrote. “To understand this threat and counter it, we must not shy away from making the sharp distinction between the peaceful religion followed by millions of law-abiding Americans and a twisted corruption of that religion used to justify violence.”