Purple Hearts for Fort Hood Victims Listed as Reason for Obama Veto Threat
Before leaving for the Memorial Day recess, the House set up a showdown with President Obama and the Senate with Friday's passage of the National Defense Authorization Act.
Three days before the $642.5 billion spending bill passed 299-120, the Office of Management and Budget released a statement of administration policy on the bill, threatening a veto if numerous provisions remained in the legislation.
"If the cumulative effects of the bill impede the ability of the Administration to execute the new defense strategy and to properly direct scarce resources, the President's senior advisors would recommend to the President that he veto the bill," the OMB warned, stressing this with underlined text.
The statement then outlined some of "a number" of "concerns" -- 32, to be exact -- including limitations on nuclear force reduction and a provision to block repatriated Guantanamo detainees from traveling to the U.S.
No. 26 on the list of veto-worthy offenses is objection to awarding Purple Hearts to the victims of the Fort Hood and Little Rock shootings.
"The Administration objects to section 552, which would grant Purple Hearts to the victims of the shooting incidents in Fort Hood, Texas, and Little Rock, Arkansas," the veto threat states. "The criminal acts that occurred in Little Rock were tried by the State of Arkansas as violations of the State criminal code rather than as acts of terrorism; as a result, this provision could create appellate issues."
On June 1, 2009, Muslim convert Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, who had spent time in Yemen and was an avowed jihadist, killed one soldier and wounded another in a drive-by shooting on a military recruiting office in Little Rock. He pleaded guilty to murder, avoiding trial and the death penalty, and was sentenced to life in prison.
Nidal Malik Hasan, a U.S. Army major who had email communications with senior al-Qaeda recruiter and Yemen-based cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, awaits military trial for the Nov. 5, 2009, massacre at Fort Hood, Texas, in which 13 were killed and 29 wounded.
After the Fort Hood shootings, the FBI quickly said there was no evidence of a greater terrorist plot at work, the Defense Department called it an "isolated" case, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Hasan's actions were not representative of his Muslim faith.
This past December, a letter from the Defense Department was raised at a joint session of the House and Senate Homeland Security committees that noted the Pentagon was "dealing with the threat of violent Islamist extremism in the context of a broader threat of workplace violence." Lawmakers blasted the language as dismissing the true nature of the tragedy.
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) introduced a bill at the end of April to amend Title 10 of the U.S. Code to provide for the award of the Purple Heart to members of the Armed Forces who are killed or wounded in a terrorist attack perpetrated within the United States.
It's also retroactive. "The Secretaries of the military departments (and the Secretary of Homeland Security with respect to the Coast Guard) shall undertake a review of each death or wounding of a member of the Armed Forces that occurred within the United States between January 1, 2009, and the date of the enactment of this Act under circumstances that could qualify the death or wounding as being the result of a terrorist attack."
That bill has 13 bipartisan co-sponsors, including Texas Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (D), John Carter (R), Henry Cuellar (D) and Mike McCaul (R).