Nidal Hasan's horrific shooting rampage at Fort Hood deserves every bit of the scrutiny it has received, especially here in Texas. The Dallas Morning News has helped lead the way, revealing details that have helped everyone put the events of Nov. 5, 2009, into some context.
One point of pride was naming "The Heroes of Fort Hood" as our 2009 Texans of the Year. This included the 13 killed and 32 wounded by Hasan as well as the thousands of others who served at the world's largest military base.
One was Sgt. 1st Class Karl Pasco, who had survived two roadside bombings in Iraq by 2009 and returned to Fort Hood. The bombings left him with two Purple Hearts, two Bronze Stars and an intense desire to fight on. He obviously deserves his medals and all the care the Army can provide. He served his country with bravery, honor and distinction.
So did those killed or wounded by Maj. Nidal Hasan.
The difference is that no one questioned whether Pasco's injuries were combat-related. The same should be said of Hasan's carnage. Any common-sense reading of Nov. 5, 2009, would tell you that.
An undistinguished Army psychiatrist, he also was an Islamic extremist who took public positions sympathetic to America's enemies. He communicated with Anwar al-Awlaki, an al-Qaida leader in Yemen. He planned his attack at Fort Hood with meticulous detail. He shouted "Allahu Akbar!" before shooting down fellow American soldiers, aiming to kill as many as he could before police brought him down, alive but paralyzed.
All of this was known soon enough. Yet the Department of Defense and the Army declared the brave men and women he shot were victims of workplace violence, not terrorism. This is a distinction with a critical difference: Because their injuries are not judged combat-related, these soldiers and their families are denied many benefits and avenues of treatment a Sgt. Pasco might have received.
Members of Congress from both parties, including Texas Republicans Michael McCaul and John Carter, have implored Defense and the Army to reconsider. Carter also has tried to right this wrong through legislation. Victims have banded together to sue the government.
Hasan, on trial for his life, does not disagree. He has admitted the shootings and explained his motivation: kill as many Americans as possible before they could go to Afghanistan and fight the Taliban. The Army psychiatrist was gone; he had become an enemy combatant.
That he fired his fatal shots on a base in Central Texas instead of somewhere in the Middle East should be immaterial. He was in combat, as were his victims. This is
—The Dallas Morning News, Aug. 15