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Texas Lawmakers Ready for Fight to Overturn Fort Hood ‘Workplace Violence’ Label

Sponsors Cornyn and Carter talk to PJM about why these upcoming days are crucial to getting proper benefits and honors for victims of Nidal Hasan.

Bridget Johnson


November 11, 2013 - 11:26 pm

WASHINGTON — Texas lawmakers return from Veterans Day memorials on a mission for those hurt in the 2009 massacre at Fort Hood: making sure that those who serve our country get due recognition and benefits as victims of a domestic terror attack.

Infamously classified as “workplace violence” by the Obama administration, former Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan killed 13 and wounded 32 in what he described as an act of jihad against soldiers going through processing before shipping out to Afghanistan.

But the continued refusal of the administration to acknowledge the attack as an act of terrorism has left the Fort Hood survivors shortchanged on honors and benefits, something that could change in a big bipartisan way with a bit of momentum this month.

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.

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. Benefits would be the same for those killed or wounded in a combat zone, and post-traumatic stress disorder treatment would be covered.

In the House this week, Carter and Williams will be looking for a few more supporters to bump their 202 co-sponsors up by 16 members.

“Right now it’s a matter of finding who we haven’t talked to; everyone we’ve talked to said, ‘Yeah, that’s great,’” Carter told PJM. “I’d like to get 218, walk into the leadership, and say ‘OK, let’s get this done.’”

If the bill can’t get to the floor on a suspension of the rules, Carter has talked to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) about quickly pushing it through committee.

“I haven’t heard any opposition on this; if they’re doing it, they’re doing it behind closed doors,” Carter added, giving a hat tip to the Democrats who have jumped on board to support the effort. One is Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), with whom Carter has worked on immigration reform. “He and I don’t see eye to eye on 90 percent of things, but we’ve become friends. He and I respect each other,” the congressman said, describing Gutierrez as “crazy liberal” while he’s “crazy conservative.”

“I haven’t talked to [Jim] McDermott and people like that because I know where they’d be and I’d waste my breath,” Carter added, referencing the Washington state Democrat.

With an expectation that the bill would pass the House, Senate Minority Whip Cornyn told PJM that he hopes to pass the language with the National Defense Authorization Act that should come to the floor before Thanksgiving.

The senator said he’s “not hearing pushback” on the bill, which is co-sponsored by Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Pat Roberts (R-Kansas).

“I think we’re going to have broad support; we just haven’t had a vehicle to get this done,” Cornyn added.

Cornyn acknowledged that the Fort Hood issue “hasn’t been front and center for some time” as Hasan’s trial dragged on. In August, Hasan was finally convicted and sentenced to death.

Yet the administration “fuzzy thinking,” in the whip’s words, that branded the attack “workplace violence” remains.
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.

Check here to see if your lawmaker has signed on to the Fort Hood Heroes Act and use this House portal to find their contact information.

MORE: Rep. Williams tells PJM he’s “still amazed that this administration doesn’t want to admit that this was a terrorist attack”

Bridget Johnson is a career journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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Top Rated Comments   
This wasn’t “fuzzy thinking” by the pro-Muslim Obama Administration, headed by a man educated as a Muslim in his childhood, awash in Muslim consultants and advisers at the highest levels, and no friend to our military.

This was Obama & Co.’s deliberate attempt—signed off on by the President, the Secretary of Defense and, apparently, too, by the Army leadership (Army Chief of Staff Gen. Casey so, so worried that untoward reactions to the Ft. Hood massacre might endanger the Army’s “Muslim outreach efforts” ( see )--to whitewash this whole Jihadi terror attack and to deceive the American public, by an Administration which would neither admit to the largest Muslim terrorist attack against U.S. troops on our soil and on their watch, nor admit that it was the ideology of Islam that was behind it.

The most incredible thing in all this is that it revealed to us civilians the apparently little known fact that, pursuant to an Executive Order signed by President Clinton, U.S. troops are not allowed to be armed when on military bases in the U.S., so that when our troops came under attack, they were unarmed and couldn’t fight back, and it was a civilian police officer, responding to a call to the scene, who finally shot Hasan and ended the attack.

P.S.—This whole episode a strong indicator of just how effectively Obama & Co. have been able to use the last almost six years to also “fundamentally transform” the U.S. military through a massive purge of high ranking and soon to be high ranking officers (see, then by promotions and reassignments; the process enabling them to cashier those who might oppose Obama & Co. and their world-view, their ideology, and their approaches, and to replace them with officers more in sympathy with and willing to carry out the will of Obama & Co., and to parrot their Party line.

Business as usual and not a big deal under most administrations, extraordinarily dangerous under this one.
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is 4 YEARS later, almost to the day.

And you have to have a Congressional BILL overturning the stupid language this administration imposed to avoid calling the Ft. Hood slaughter by a known, unstable Islamic sympathizer "terrorism" ??

Give me a break.
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
BRAVO!!! The best idea I've heard from Congress in a LONG time!!!
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (18)
All Comments   (18)
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How about an amendment that apologizes for insanely making military bases "gun free", "victim rich" zones, and restoring 2nd Amendment rights at least to civillians and officers.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
Everything in the Obama White House is about "outreach" to the Muslim world, from NASA to the military. Those formative years President Lazybones spent in Indonesia inform his thinking on every issue. I don't know why more people aren't upset about it.
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is heartening. I hope they are successful in making their case. P.S. I HATE Barack Obama.
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment

Cornyn is beating the bushes looking for issues to use in his upcoming Senatorial campaign. This will make a nifty campaign commercial for the chameleon senator, whose approval rating in Texas is on the skids after he was found to be undermining his junior senator's attempt to de-fund oCare.

At least the cause is worthy, but PLEASE, let's not give him too much credit. He could have done this years ago... Amazing that his "conscience" finally caught up with him.

Paint a clown face on him...
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
WHY NOW? Because the terrorist has been found guilty by the courts and that's when people move forward with these types of things. It can no longer be justifiably classified as "workplace violence" by Osmarta$$ because of what was said in court and now they have something to fight with. The man admitted it was an attack based on religion and terror. Therefore now is the perfect time. The POTUS will not be able to deny it was a terrorist attack now. Well armed with documents is better than unarmed with emotion. THAT'S WHY NOW.
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
What is your position on political violence, Senator Cornyn?:

'Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell likes to say, “If someone flicks a pebble at you, you hurl a boulder back at him.” His political team is just as emphatic. Some Republicans in Kentucky who flirted with working for his primary opponent, Matt Bevin, were told by the McConnell allies that they would get the “death penalty.” Another frequent warning: “Mitch McConnell doesn’t take prisoners.”

McConnell’s team “shoots the wounded on the battlefield as a matter of course,” says University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato. A former GOP leadership aide who has seen the McConnell operation up close sounds terrified. “They’re all killers,” he says, without a trace of humor in his voice. “These are not guys to be trifled with. They are burn it down, p*** on it, then blow it up kind of guys.”'

23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
It would be nice to see this attitude shown more often to the other side of the aisle.
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
You can't expect any justice for those killed and injured at Ft. Hood. If we could, a polluting-the-culture President Barack Hussein Obama, who has trademarked the American presidency as one dominated by golfing and holidaying, continues down the destructive path of gutting the American military.
Thirteen people were killed by the administration-protected, Mr. “allahu Akbar”-shouting Maj. Nidal Hassan, and 30 wounded at Fort Hood on November 5, 2009.
The survivors are still struggling to put food on the table while he still receives full benefits and pay and the best medical attention that no amount of money could buy.
The 30 wounded denied the Purple Heart have been buried in the same gaping hole as the hidden Benghazi survivors because the Pentagon thinks it would paint Hassan "in a bad light."
Meanwhile, thank God that medals for courage don’t follow the same trajectory as Nobel Peace Prizes.
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
it is the military that was classified as workplace violence, if you change that to a hate crime, you then have to try him in a civil court, by calling it workplace violence it stays in the military and is tried by the military, no conspiracy,
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's about dam time someone does something about this, Those Vets really need our help.
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
about time that this was corrected,
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dear Liar is so damn insecure that he can't have anything be called a terrorist attack on US soil.

This should be a no-brainer bipartisan piece of legislation.
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
Great news and we’ll take it. Better late than never. If the gutless wonder in the WH has any sense left, he’ll sign it damn good and fast, without a peep.
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
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