There may be a good reason for this, but it’s still an outrage nonetheless, at least in terms of the disparate treatment of Nidal Hasan to his victims. Thanks to the lengthy delay in his court-martial, the Army can’t suspend Hasan’s pay, even though there is no doubt whatsoever that he murdered 14 people in a spree shooting at Fort Hood nearly four years ago. NBC’s Dallas-Ft. Worth affiliate investigates:
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The Army certainly has to apply due process in this case. However, why has nothing proceeded on adjudicating Hasan’s case so that his salary can be cut off and his discharge issued? His court-martial will finally start on May 29th, fourteen months after its first scheduled start date, thanks to a flurry of pre-trial motions that set the schedule back. His defense team tried this month to delay it further, arguing that the Boston Marathon bombing would prejudice the jury, but the judge rejected the motion. The argument is still noteworthy:
1200 WOAI news reports military Judge Col. Tara Osborn has rejected a request from Hasan’s lawyers to delay his court martial in the 2009 Ft. Hood massacre until September. They claimed the fact that Hasan’s name was mentioned in news coverage of the Boston bombing, that would prejudice the military court against him.
“The comparisons (between the Boston bombings and the Ft. Hood case) are striking and troubling,” Lt Col. Kris Poppe, Hasan’s lead defense attorney, told the judge.
Funny, that’s what the Ft. Hood wounded think, too. The real outrage is the refusal of the Army and Obama administration to classify this as either a terrorist attack or combat, which would allow the wounded to receive Purple Hearts and (more importantly) combat-related benefits during their recovery and long-term care. Instead, as has long been noted, the administration classifies the attack as “workplace violence” despite the links between Hasan and now-dead al-Qaeda terrorist leader Anwar al-Awlaki.
That has victims and their families fuming, especially with news that Hasan’s still on the Army payroll:
The Army has not classified the wounds of the Ft. Hood victims as “combat related” and declines to label the shooting a “terrorist attack”,
The “combat related” designation is an important one, for without it Burnett and other shooting victims are not given combat-related pay, they are not eligible for Purple Heart retirement or medical benefits given to other soldiers wounded either at war or during the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon.
As a result, Burnett, his wife Torey, and the families of other Fort Hood victims miss out on thousands of dollars of potential benefits and pay every year.
To Burnett the shooting felt like combat.
“You take three rounds and lose five good friends and watch seven other people get killed in front of you. Do you have another term that we can classify that as?” asked Burnett.
The Army has categorized the shooting as a case of “workplace violence.”
“Sickens me. Absolutely sickens me. Workplace violence? I don’t even know if I have the words to say,” said Burnett.
“They don’t need to be treated like this. They don’t need to sit and fight every day for this benefit or that,” said Torey Burnett.
As that fight continues, Burnett was stunned to see a letter detailing the more $278,000 Hasan has been paid since his arrest. NBC 5 Investigates received the letter from the Department of Defense in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
“There have been times when my wife and I cannot afford groceries. We cannot afford gas in our car,” Burnett said. “Literally, times where we ate Ramen noodles for weeks on end. This [that Hasan is still earning a paycheck] makes me sick to my stomach,” said Burnett.
Burnett isn’t alone in his outrage.
“We’re giving the defendant in this case every benefit of the doubt. But yet we’re not giving the benefits to the victims,” said Rep. Thomas Rooney (R) Florida
Rooney, a former prosecutor at Fort Hood, recently signed a bi-partisan letter urging defense secretary Chuck Hagel to “…reclassify the victims’ deaths and injuries as ‘combat related’…”
Why exactly does anyone need to request this? Shouldn’t it just be common sense?