In light of Hasan’s recent statements during pretrial hearings, this is even more of a travesty than it was already. “Purple Heart quest adds to dispute over what constitutes terrorism,” by Roxana Tiron and Timothy R. Homan for Bloomberg News, July 11:
WASHINGTON “” For Army Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning, Nov. 5, 2009, was a routine day at Fort Hood, Texas, waiting for a health checkup before his scheduled deployment to Afghanistan. Suddenly, he heard someone yell “Allahu akbar” “” Arabic for “God is great” “” before the first of six bullets slammed into his chest, piercing his right lung and liver.
Almost four years later, Manning is engaged in another fight “” for the military’s Purple Heart, bestowed on soldiers injured in battle. The court-martial of Major Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder, is stoking calls to label the shooting rampage an act of terrorism and to award Purple Hearts, which carry federal benefits.
“This wasn’t a random act of violence where a guy was having a bad day,” Manning, 37, said in a phone interview.
The dispute over the Purple Hearts is part of a broader national debate over what constitutes a battleground in an age when terrorism can inflict casualties at home.
With jury selection under way this week in the trial of Hasan, an American-born Muslim, U.S. House Republicans and the victims’ families argue that the Fort Hood attack was the first terrorist incident on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001.
The Obama administration characterizes the attack as workplace violence and says branding it terrorism would jeopardize Hasan’s right to a fair trial. Other critics say giving the decoration to the Fort Hood victims could open up future claims for the award and, in the Pentagon’s view, change the criteria for the honor.
It’s the latest skirmish between the White House and Republicans over how to handle prosecutions of suspected terrorists. In 2011, under political pressure, the administration rescinded its decision to try accused Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in federal court in New York; a military tribunal is hearing his case in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The Republican-led House has passed legislation that would force the Pentagon to award the Fort Hood victims the Purple Heart and the government benefits that come with it. A similar provision, included in last year’s defense measure, was removed during negotiations with the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Purple Heart recipients can qualify for reduced medical costs, preferential treatment for many state and federal government jobs, tuition waivers at some universities and special license plates. Family members can receive some of the benefits.
The families of the dead and survivors of the shootings have sued the government for those benefits, in addition to seeking damages from the government and Hasan….
Good. Maybe they can recoup all the Army salary he has been paid since his jihad murders.