WASHINGTON — The fourth anniversary of the Fort Hood massacre slipped by today without a mention from the Pentagon but with a death sentence recently imposed on the head of the assailant.
Finally over were the endless stretches of former Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan delaying his trial through everything from facial hair to scores of pretrial motions. In August, Hasan was convicted of killing 13 and wounding 32 in the slaughter for which he proudly took credit.
The Obama administration infamously classified the attack as “workplace violence” instead of terrorism, which the Pentagon said was vital terminology to not jeopardize the prosecution of Hasan. “The Department of Defense is committed to the integrity of the ongoing court martial proceedings of [Hasan] and for that reason will not at this time further characterize the incident that occurred at Fort Hood on Nov. 5, 2009,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said.
Yet since Hasan was convicted, there’s been no movement toward reversing that — or getting the victims the same benefits and protections afforded those affected in the 9/11 attacks.
There has been movement, though, in Congress, where Texas lawmakers are laboring to reverse a four-year wrong and find for the victims the justice missing in the federal government’s treatment of their case.
And they could use concerned Americans’ help to rally support to bring their effort to the floor for a vote.
The Honoring the Fort Hood Heroes Act was introduced in the upper chamber in September by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and in the House by Reps. John Carter (R-Texas) and Roger Williams (R-Texas). Carter and Williams share Fort Hood in their district boundaries.
“Many of us thought this was an absurdity; everybody in the country said it had to be a terrorist act,” Williams told PJM today.
He noted that in the original Carter-Williams effort to get the “workplace violence” designation swapped out for terrorism, they were “asked to tone it down a bit until the trial was over.”
“I agreed with that,” Williams said. “We didn’t want to interfere with anything that had to happen with this terrorist.”
In the post-conviction phase, where no terminology adjustments could affect a prosecution but hold lots of weight for those depending on care and benefits, the lawmakers introduced the Fort Hood Heroes Act “to declare the November 5, 2009, attack at Fort Hood, Texas, a terrorist attack, and to ensure that the victims of the attack and their families receive the same honors and benefits as those Americans who have been killed or wounded in a combat zone overseas and their families.”
The bill specifically states the attack was “not merely workplace violence,” notes the attack on Fort Hood “could and should have been prevented,” recognizes that Hasan “had become radicalized while serving in the United States Army and was principally motivated to carry out the attack by an ideology of violent Islamist extremism,” and adds “Hasan proved himself to be not just a terrorist, but also a traitor and an enemy of the United States.”
It stipulates that the Purple Heart should be awarded to service members killed or injured in the attack, and civilians killed or wounded should get the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom.
In May 2012, President Obama listed language granting Purple Hearts to Fort Hood victims as one reason he’d veto the National Defense Authorization Act.