Saunders: Fort Hood victims betrayed
In 2010, Kimberly Munley sat next to Michelle Obama as President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address. Munley was invited as a hero of the 2009 Fort Hood shootings. As a civilian police officer, Munley fired back after Maj. Nidal Hasan allegedly opened fire in an attack that killed 13 adults and wounded 32. Munley was shot three times. Her partner, Mark Todd, fired the shots that brought down Hasan and ended the carnage.
Three years later, Munley told ABC News reporter Brian Ross, she feels “betrayed,” as Obama broke his promise to care for the Fort Hood victims.
Because the government classified the injuries not as “combat-related” but as the result of “workplace violence,” the wounded troops are not eligible for Purple Hearts. They claim they are not being given the priority they deserve from Veterans Affairs.
“It was no different than an insurgent in Iraq or Afghanistan trying to kill us,” Shawn Manning told ABC. Manning should know. He was deployed twice to Iraq. He was hit by six bullets, and his wounds led him to retire from the military. As a veteran, he complained, he is being treated as if he were downtown and got hit by a car.
Munley, Manning and other victims — both military and civilian — are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against federal and military officials. Attorney Reed Rubinstein says they are outraged at their noncombat Veterans Affairs status. Ditto the snail’s pace of military courts; three years after a public slaughter, Hasan has yet to go to trial even though he wanted to plead guilty. Then there’s the military’s political correctness that allowed Hasan to remain in the Army and even be promoted to major when he should have been booted out before the shootings.
As a Senate committee reported in 2011, the FBI knew Hasan had been in touch with Anwar al-Awlaki — who was killed by a U.S. drone in Yemen in 2011 because he was a terrorist leader. Hasan had given a pro-Osama bin Laden lecture at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. A colleague branded Hasan a “ticking time bomb.” The report concluded the FBI and Department of Defense “collectively had sufficient information to have detected Hasan’s radicalization to violent Islamist extremism but failed both to understand and to act on it.”
There is something pathetic about the military’s refusal to call the attack an act of terrorism. “The pattern of response to Fort Hood and the pattern of response to (the recent attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya) is not dissimilar,” Rubinstein said. After both attacks, Washington tried to paper over the role of organized terrorists.
Military law expert Geoffrey Corn, a professor at the South Texas College of Law, told me that if the military branded the Fort Hood shootings as terrorism, it could complicate the jury selection process and otherwise hinder the prosecution’s efforts.
But Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, sees the shootings as terrorism “clearly.” McCaul plans to reintroduce legislation to force the Pentagon and Obama administration to recognize the Fort Hood victims’ combat status.
It is Rubinstein’s hope that “one way or another,” America does right by Munley, Manning and the rest. “Whether it’s through Congress or the courts or the pressure of public opinion, this treatment, the way the government has given them the back of the hand, will not stand.”