Why the Fort Hood jihadist has received better treatment than the survivors of his attack.
“I hear someone yell ‘Allahu akbar,’” Sergeant Shawn Manning told Army Times. “Usually something bad is going to follow after that, so I look up at him and he started shooting. He probably fired five or six shots before he shot me in the chest.”
Manning, a veteran of two deployments in Iraq, was referring to Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the U.S. Army psychiatrist who gunned down 13 and wounded 32 at Fort Hood, Texas, in November 2009. Nearly four years later the case is finally coming to trial but it is already clear that Major Hasan received more preferential treatment than his victims.
Hasan is still in the Army and retains his rank of major. The Army is still paying Hasan his full salary and has received more than $278,000 since his arrest in 2009. The Army is also taking care of the paralyzing injuries Hasan sustained in the gun rampage. That was before Hasan shot the unarmed Sergeant Alonzo Lunsford once in the head and six times in the body. Lunsford played dead and then fled the building but Hasan chased him down and shot him in the back. The bullet is still there but Lunsford told reporters that the Army refused to cover an operation to remove it, and docked his pay when he was undergoing treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.
“We don’t get passes the way Major Hasan got passes,” Lunsford told the New York Times. “Each one of us has gotten a raw deal somewhere down the line.” Shawn Manning still carries a bullet in his back and fights for the pay he lost due to the Army’s ruling that Hasan’s attack was not terrorism, therefore the wounds were not related to combat.
Hasan had been emailing terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki about the prospect of killing infidel American soldiers, and Hasan did everything but take out a two-minute ad on the Super Bowl to announce his jihadist intentions. True to form, he yelled “Allahu akbar,” before killing 13 people, more than twice as many victims as the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. On his website, Anwar al-Awlaki was orgasmic with joy that Hasan had done his duty. Even so, the Army refused to call Hasan’s killing spree terrorism, gun violence or a hate crime. Rather, the government proclaimed the mass murder spree a case of “workplace violence.” The trial is taking the same course.
Hasan, handling his own defense, claims he was acting to protect the Taliban, the Islamist forces currently battling U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Col. Tara Osborn, the Army’s replacement for judge Col. Gregory Gross, ruled that Hasan cannot make that claim in court. Col. Osborn also barred prosecutors from using the emails Hasan exchanged with Anwar al-Awlaki. Those also constitute evidence that the government and military knew about Hasan’s terrorist intentions and did nothing to stop him.
Major Nidal Hasan faces 13 charges of premeditated murder and 32 charges of attempted premeditated murder. If convicted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice he would face the death penalty but the chances that he would be executed are virtually zero. The U.S. Army has not executed an active-duty soldier since 1961, and the process is complicated.
Fort Hood’s commanding authority would have to affirm any death sentence for Hasan, and that would launch automatic appeals in two military courts. In the event that they upheld the sentence, Hasan could appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Further, any military death sentence must be approved by the President of the United States.
President Barack Obama’s first response to Hasan’s mass murder was brief, low key, and failed to ascribe any responsibility to Islamic terrorism. “We cannot fully know what leads a man to do such a thing,” the president said. Such breathtaking denial soon became official policy. The Obama administration’s Department of Defense issued Protecting the Force: Lessons from Fort Hood, which contains not a single reference to jihad or jihadists. Its only mention of “Islamic” is an endnote reference to “Countering Violent Islamic Extremism,” a 2007 FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin.
Rudy Giuliani, mayor of New York during the 9/11 attacks, recently testified that “the elevation of political correctness over sound investigative judgment certainly explains the failure to identify Maj. Hasan as a terrorist.” The Obama administration’s description of Hasan’s act as “workplace violence,” Giuliani testified, wasn’t just preposterous but dangerous. The Fort Hood survivors know that is true.
Major Nidal Hasan took 13 lives but will likely retain his own. That may inspire other Islamic terrorists to embed themselves in the Army, which further places U.S. troops in peril. Based on the way Hasan’s case has unfolded, troops victimized by such terrorism can expect little help from the U.S. military and its commander in chief. So the troops might heed the counsel of Sgt. Shawn Manning. Whenever they hear somebody yell “Allahu akbar,” something bad is going to follow. To avoid death or injury, their best option could be to deal with it right then, by any means necessary.
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