Both Cornyn and Carter said they understood why the Pentagon refused to change the designation of the attack during Hasan’s trial on the chance that it could jeopardize his prosecution. “That was a legitimate concern — prejudicing his right to a fair trial, potentially prejudicing the jury,” Cornyn said. But Hasan proudly admitted his terrorist motives during his trial, leaving the administration without a post-conviction reason to not call the attack terrorism — other than not wanting a domestic terror attack on its record.
“That’s a fight that I’d like to have — if that’s their best argument, then I think we win that argument,” Cornyn said. “It’s very dangerous the way they think about terrorism as a crime.”
Still, supporters aren’t hearing much from the Defense Department since Hasan went to death row.
“I’m not a fan of Secretary Hagel, but in fairness to him I haven’t really seen a lot of pushback from the Pentagon. They have not been engaged one way or the other,” Cornyn said, noting the widespread criticism of the Pentagon’s original review of the “workplace violence” incident “that masks the evil nature of the threat and sort of lets us let our guard down.”
One of the dangers, he added, is the Pentagon being “too influenced by ideology.”
Backers of the Fort Hood Heroes Act do expect pushback on the Purple Hearts, though. “There’s gonna be some Purple Heart recipients unhappy about it,” Carter said, noting that victims of the 9/11 attack at the Pentagon were eligible for the honor.
In Congress, “I can’t imagine anyone wanting to make it an issue in this political climate,” Carter continued. “It’s just the right thing to do. Especially with some people facing an election, if Reid does his usual blocking game, they’re going to suffer for it.”
“The American people have an innate sense of fairness,” he added, and remember that terrifying day when soldiers were “transitioning out to the war zone and all of sudden there’s a guy screaming ‘Allahu Akbar’ and killing.”
And when the bill gets to President Obama’s desk, Carter said he’s feels confident that the commander in chief wouldn’t want to get tangled up in a veto of broadly bipartisan legislation helping the Fort Hood victims. “He’s got more on his plate than he can say grace over right now,” the congressman added.
Cornyn was recently at Fort Hood to announce the legislation and remembers shaking the hand of a man who was seriously wounded in the attack.
“Their sensitivities are still very raw,” he said. “They just went through the trial a short time ago. Until we get closure, there are a number of them on pins and needles.”
“I would encourage everyone to be involved, making sure these innocent warriors who got shot right there in their hometown, that they get the recognition and benefits,” Carter said.