WASHINGTON, D.C. – Four years after Major Nadal Hasan went on his killing spree at Ft. Hood, the Pentagon persists in labeling the tragic incident “workplace violence.” Last week, a coalition of 160 victims and their family members issued a video calling on the Pentagon and President Obama to classify the shootings as an act of terrorism.
In spite of the protests of these victims, the Pentagon refused on Monday to classify the 2009 shootings at Fort Hood as terrorism and said it will not further classify the incident in any way — other than as murder, according to a spokesman. “The Department of Defense is committed to the integrity of the ongoing court martial proceedings of Major Nadal Hasan and for that reason will not at this time further characterize the incident that occurred at Fort Hood on November 5, 2009,” said DoD Press Secretary George Little.
Major Hasan, who is currently on trial in a military court, allegedly opened fire on a room full of soldiers at the Texas base, killing 13 service members (and an unborn baby), and wounding 32 others. He faces the death penalty, if convicted.
Family of the slain, along with survivors, contend in the video – “The Truth About Fort Hood” – that the government only wants to be politically correct and is turning a blind eye to the fact that the alleged shooter consulted by e-mail with then-top al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki about whether an attack against American soldiers was justified to “protect our brothers.”
One victim, Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning, said that the U.S. soldiers who were killed and wounded at Fort Hood were attacked “by a domestic enemy, someone who was there that day to kill soldiers to prevent them from deploying. If that’s not an act of war or an act of terrorism, I don’t know what is.”
Reps. Michael McCaul (Rep-TX) and John Carter sent a letter this month to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, containing testimony from a congressional hearing in September that cited former National Counter Terrorism Center director Michael Leiter had already concluded that the attack was an instance of terrorism.
“Based on all the facts, it is inconceivable to us that the DoD and the Army continue to label this attack ‘workplace violence’ in spite of all the evidence that clearly proves the Fort Hood shooting was an act of terror,” they wrote.
McCaul, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, also raised the issue with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and National Counter Terrorism Center director Matthew Olsen in a July 25 congressional hearing chaired by Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.)
Because the Fort Hood shootings are not classified as terrorism, the victims are not eligible for combat-related special compensation that provides disability pay for wounded service members who were forced to retire for medical reasons.
Sgt. Manning, who was shot six times, says he was recently denied benefits, even though he was forced to retire from the military due to medical conditions. The Defense Department, however, denies that any benefits are being withheld. “Survivors of the incident at Ft. Hood are eligible for the same medical benefits as any service member,” said the Pentagon’s Little. “The Department of Defense is committed to the highest care of those in our military family.”