Reclassification of Ft Hood Shootings
We've been talking about the classification of the Ft Hood shootings since roughly the day after the shootings happened. The DoD and the President chose to classify them as "workplace violence" as opposed to terrorism. I took a lot of heat in the comments for agreeing with them in doing that. My fear was that if the President or the DoD called it terrorism and didn't charge Hasan with a terrorism charge that it would be looked at as "unlawful command influence." Further, I felt that if they did charge Hasan with terrorism that it would give him the opportunity to put the "War on Terrorism" itself on trial. I envisioned a scenario where Hasan (representing himself) dragged the case out for months and months introducing evidence and testimony from "Muslim Scholars" and others that would seek to basically turn him into a martyr for his cause. It was pretty clear he was getting the death penalty for the murders either way, so why muddy up the waters was my thinking.
But, I also agreed that it was in fact Terrorism. About a year ago now I said:
Again, I think this was Terrorism, but in labeling it that, the Pentagon would create a bunch of immediate problems. It's easier from the standpoint of the Pentagon to wait until after the conviction, and then declare it terroristic. You can't be accused of unlawfully influencing something that has already transpired, so there won't be the problems after the judgment has already been reached.
So, we are now at that point. And thankfully some Senators and Representatives from the great Republic state of Texas are pushing that now:
Members of Congress said this week they’ll renew a push to designate the November 2009 Fort Hood shootings as part of the battle against terrorism, which would make the victims eligible for Purple Hearts and open up more benefits for those killed or wounded...
The bill’s co-authors, Texas Republicans Reps. John R. Carter and Roger Williams, said that they plan to introduce the “Honoring the Fort Hood Heroes Act” as soon as Congress returns to Washington next week. They announced the bill in Texas on Monday with Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican who is introducing a companion bill in the Senate.
My own former Congressman is joining them:
And they’ve already won support from outside their home state, with Rep. Frank R. Wolf, Virginia Republican, saying Tuesday he’ll sign onto the bill.
“This was a terrorist attack, this was not workplace violence. To call it workplace violence is a form of political correctness gone awry,” Mr. Wolf said.
Hasan was convicted last month of killing 13 and wounding more than 30 when he went on a shooting spree in 2009 on the base near Killeen, Texas, shouting “Allahu akbar,” Arabic for “God is great,” before opening fire. He was sentenced to the death penalty on Aug. 28, though it’s expected the appeals process will last years if not decades.
And another Senator is making similar points:
Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, also voiced his support for the victims of the attack, sending a letter to Army Secretary John McHugh on Tuesday to request a review of the attack to determine if victims are eligible for the Purple Heart.
“The evidence presented during the court-martial established beyond any doubt that this was not ‘workplace violence’; it was a terrorist attack,” Mr. Inhofe wrote in the letter. “The tragic deaths and injuries were conducted with premeditation by Major Hasan who publicly declared he had ‘switched sides’ in the ongoing conflict and joined the enemies of the United States.”
Resolutions passed at Convention provide the positions we take on any given issue. Whatever my own personal opinion is on them, they are what I will argue here on the blog and elsewhere. With that said, this is probably my favorite resolution passed in years, which we passed last week:
WHEREAS, On November 5, 2009, Nadil Hasan entered the Fort Hood Soldier Readiness Processing Center, took a seat at an empty table, bowed his head for several seconds then suddenly stood up, shouted "Allah Akbar" and opened fire, spraying bullets at soldiers in a fanlike motion before taking aim at individual soldiers; and
WHEREAS, During the course of the shooting, 12 soldiers and 1 Army civilian employee were killed and 32 other individuals were wounded in the incident; and
WHEREAS, Nidal Hasan targeted soldiers in uniform and it is the worst shooting to have taken place on an American military base; and
WHEREAS, Investigation before and after the shooting discovered e-mail communications between Nidal Hasan and an al-Qaida leader, Anwar al-Awlaki, who had been monitored by the NSA as a security threat....
RESOLVED, By The American Legion in National Convention assembled in Houston, Texas, August 27, 28, 29, 2013, That The American Legion urge that the Fort Hood massacre should be re-classified as an act of terrorism and the soldiers killed and wounded on November 5, 2009 should be awarded all honors and benefits due to battlefield combat; and, be it further
RESOLVED, That the Fort Hood Shooting be re-classified to that of an Act of Terrorism against an American military base; and, be it finally
RESOLVED, That The American Legion supports legislation that provides victims and families of the Fort Hood shooting with the same benefits that are afforded to Americans who have been injured in overseas combat zones and families of those who have been killed in action.
So, now is the time to push this one through Congress. You can contact your Senators and Representative through the Capitol HIll switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Be sure to send a note of thanks to the Sponsors of the bills as well.
UPDATE: Ranger Up's Rhino Den has a similar piece up. (If you don't read Rhino Den, you should.) He disagrees with me in part, and it is the same part most of you disagree with me on:
So for the government to argue that its reasoning for a certain classification is for the sake of ensuring prosecutorial success is either monumentally stupid or a blatant falsehood. If the government cannot win a conviction with a case like this tried as terrorism, then I am having a very difficult time imagining a scenario that would make it possible.
I believe that the US government will change its tune on this if Veterans put enough pressure on Congress to reclassify the event. Groups like the American Legion, who has been instrumental in fighting for Veteran’s rights, are doing that very thing right now. While possible that they were being cautious in their prosecutorial intent, it wreaks of stabbing military personnel in the back for the sake of either saving money in benefits being paid out or appeasing cultural sensitivities—or possibly even both.
Like I said, he is compelling. Entirely possible that with the inept representation that Hasan gave himself in the courtroom that a tacked on terrorism charge wouldn't have changed anything. But, I guess my only point was that if he was already going to get a death penalty for the murder charge than from a prosecution standpoint that charge might have been superfluous. But if you approach from a "the victims deserved the terrorism charge as well" I can't find any fault in that thinking. I was perhaps embracing my lawyer side over my infantryman side.
Either way, go read the Rhino Den piece.