No Purple Hearts

08.06.13

Nidal Hasan’s Murders Termed ‘Workplace Violence’ by U.S.

Nidal Hasan’s victims must suffer twice—first when they were shot by the army shrink turned jihadi, and again as the government calls the murder of 13 soldiers at Fort Hood ‘workplace violence.’

As U.S. Army psychiatrist turned jihadi Nidal Hasan finally goes on trial for shooting 13 fellow soldiers to death at Fort Hood, here is what the government continues to classify the 2009 attack:

“Workplace violence.”

In what might be termed the audacity of nope, the government has declined to call this al Qaeda–inspired mass murder an act of terrorism because to do so would be “unfair to the victims.”

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Police officers Mark Todd and Kimberly Munley of Killeen, Texas, look on as first lady Michelle Obama waves to the chamber before Barack Obama's State of the Union address on January 27, 2010. (Mark Wilson/Getty)

The official reasoning is that it would jeopardize the case because, as stated in a Pentagon memo, “defense counsel will argue that Major Hasan cannot receive a fair trial because a branch of government has indirectly declared that Major Hasan is a terrorist—that he is criminally culpable."

That has not stopped the government from calling the 9/11 attacks anything but terrorism. The 9/11 memorial at the Pentagon has on display the Purple Heart, the medal awarded to all the soldiers who were killed or injured there that day.

But the Purple Heart has been denied the soldiers who were killed or wounded at Fort Hood. And, because they were classified as victims of simple calamity rather than of combat, they and their families have been denied the accompanying benefits. A number of them say they have not even been able to secure adequate care for their wounds.

And, perhaps in part because people assumed that the army would take care of the soldiers as it would any other fallen and wounded warriors, there was no huge outpouring of financial support for them as there would later be for, say, the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.

To her great and everlasting credit, nobody has been more vocal about all this than one of the two heroic police officers who took Hasan down and ended the carnage.

“Betrayed is a good word,” Police Sgt. Kimberly Munley has said of the way the soldiers have been treated.

Imagine coming home shaken up by the war and seeking psychiatric help and having this guy call you a war criminal?

Munley speaks up on behalf of the soldiers even though as a civilian she would be ineligible for the medal or the benefits, even though she was wounded in the attack.

And Munley has more than enough cause to complain about how she and her equally heroic comrade, Police Sgt. Mark Todd, have been treated themselves.

You likely recall all the accolades that Munley and Todd received after the attack.

Maybe you saw them on television seated beside the first lady at the State of the Union address, Munley still in pain from the bullet wound in her leg.

You may not know that both of them were subsequently laid off due to budget cuts.

You also may not know that Todd suffered a stroke this past Christmas, two days after returning from Afghanistan, having gone to work there for a civilian contractor when his heroism at Fort Hood failed to save him from being “excessed.”

The stroke apparently left him unable to speak, but he has nonetheless been placed on the list of potential witnesses as the trial gets under way at Ford Hood.

The judge in the military tribunal initially denied—but may reconsider—a prosecution request for permission to submit instead Todd’s testimony at an earlier hearing, when he had his full powers of speech. He may still be required to testify in writing.

Munley almost certainly will testify at the trial. Her lawyer, Reid Rubinstein, reports that she is as ready as ever to do whatever duty requires.

She is presently honoring a request by the prosecutors to refrain from public comment during the trial. But you can be sure she will have plenty to say afterward. And likely little of it will be about her own troubles.

In the meanwhile, Rubenstein has joined with another attorney, Neal Sher, in filing a lawsuit against the government on behalf of Munley, a number of the shot soldiers, and their families. The suit notes that the army and the FBI ignored repeated warnings that an increasingly militant Hasan was bent on jihadist violence.

The suit charges that, among other things, the authorities “knew or should have known that Hasan was abusing his patients, who were American soldiers returning from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, by calling them ‘war criminals’ in the course of psychiatric treatment sessions, and promising criminal prosecution against them because these soldiers had killed Taliban and other terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

How nuts is that?

Imagine coming home shaken up by the war and seeking psychiatric help and having this guy call you a war criminal?

Imagine later hearing that this same sick shrink was allowed just to spout lines from the Quran in place of the formal oral presentation required of all new doctors.

And that Hasan’s communications with al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki were initially excused as research into radical Islam.

And that Hasan spoke of being “happy” when a fellow jihadist shot an American soldier to death outside an Arkansas recruiting station in June of 2009—a soldier who would also be denied a Purple Heart.

And that five months later Hasan allegedly went with a gun into an area where soldiers were either returning from a deployment or preparing to deploy.

Among those who were shot was Lt. Col. Juanita Warman, a physician who specialized in treating PTSD. She died while using her body to shield a fellow soldier, an act that should have earned her a medal for valor as well as a Purple Heart.

Also shot was Pvt. Francheska Velez, just back from Iraq, completing paperwork for education benefits and pregnant with her first child.

“She lived for a short time in terrible pain and agony, knowing that she and her child were dying,” the lawsuit says.

The suit also says that just before the gunfire, Hasan was heard to shout, “Allah akbar!” as Awlaki had reportedly advised.

In 2011, Awlaki was killed by a drone strike in Yemen. The government said the killing was justified even though he was an American citizen because he was also an enemy combatant in a foreign land. He had, in the words of Attorney General Holder, “repeatedly made clear his intent to attack U.S. persons and his hope that these attacks would take American lives.”

Yet the attack that Hasan allegedly carried out after being inspired and guided by Awlaki remains ”workplace violence.”

In an added twist, Hasan will be representing himself at the trial. That means Munley and perhaps even Todd may have to endure being cross-examined by him.

As a consolation, the cops might consider that the trial is going ahead only because the judge nixed Hasan’s effort to avoid the death penalty by pleading guilty. He has apparently lost some of his fervor for martyrdom even though he has said in the past that martyrs are rewarded in paradise with 72 virgins.

Let us hope that whenever he departs this realm, if he meets anybody, Hasan is instead greeted by 13 soldiers with some serious anger to vent.