Good work by lefty Mother Jones, which has must-read background on why this was likely a deliberate snub and not a logistical snafu. As it turns out, there may be reasons beyond simple political correctness that explain why the Pentagon insists on treating Nidal Hasan’s jihadist rampage as “workplace violence.”
Imagine having taken a bullet to the head from Hasan’s gun and being told that the president doesn’t have time to meet with you but does have time for a fundraiser at a rich liberal’s house nearby.
In the years since Major Nidal Hasan opened fire in a crowded Fort Hood medical center, killing 13 people and wounding another 32, victims have struggled to get medical care and financial benefits. This is largely because of how the incident has been labeled. Although Hasan is an avowed jihadist with ties to Al Qaeda, the Pentagon considers the attack to be workplace violence rather than terrorism or combat. Thus victims aren’t eligible for many benefits and honors available to soldiers wounded or killed in action…
In 2012, nearly 150 Fort Hood victims and their family members filed suit against the Department of Defense, seeking compensation for their suffering and lost benefits. But the case has bogged down, and the Senate has balked at passing legislation that would give victims of the 2009 shooting the same benefits as soldiers killed or wounded in combat or terrorism attacks.
Lunsford and other survivors had hoped that a personal meeting might persuade the president to intervene and break the logjam. “Right now, he only knows our stories second hand,” Lunsford says. “We wanted to meet with him face-to-face so he could look us in the eyes and see our pain. That’s the only way he’s really going to understand our situation.” According to their lawyer, Reed Rubinstein, roughly two dozen victims and their relatives were planning to attend.
As I say, the MJ backgrounder is a must. The survivors have been begging the Pentagon for years to classify their injuries as combat-related so that they can receive a more robust complement of benefits and medical care. (One family says the difference in pay alone is $70,000 so far.) The brass has resisted, though, going so far as to deny them Purple Hearts in the interest of preserving the “workplace violence” charade. At one point the victims were told that it’s a matter of legal strategy: If the Defense Department had formally labeled Hasan a terrorist while the case was pending, he would have moved for a mistrial on grounds that he can no longer get a fair trial. Okay, but … the trial’s over now and the shooting still hasn’t been re-classified. Why not? Another theory, floated by Mother Jones, is that the Pentagon’s simply too embarrassed by the many, many jihadist red flags it missed in Hasan’s past and won’t call him a terrorist lest it lose face. I don’t understand that either, unless its institutional inertia taken to an Orwellian degree. Literally no one outside the Pentagon’s PR department believes that Hasan’s rampage was “workplace violence” and not terrorism; protecting the formal designation achieves nothing except to make Defense look ridiculous. I don’t see why it would matter much to a lawsuit filed by the survivors against the Department either. Whether the military was negligent in failing to sniff Hasan out before he started shooting shouldn’t turn on whether he’s guilty of terrorism or “workplace violence.” If there was a threat and they should have neutralized it, they’re liable.
A few GOP congressmen have been trying to get Hagel to do something about this. Last year they picked up Democratic support from Pennsylvania Rep. Chaka Fattah and an amendment requiring combat pay for the survivors was added to the House version of the defense appropriations bill — before it was stripped out by Harry Reid’s Senate. You can imagine, then, why the survivors would think their last, best option would be to demand an explanation from Obama face to face — and why O, knowing that, would steer far clear. Disgraceful.