Terrorist Attack Or Workplace Violence?

Terrorist Attack or Workplace Violence?
One Woman’s Opinion
By: Sheri de Grom

Terrorist attacks and workplace violence have become commonplace in our universe. We can no longer consider ourselves immune from either. We don’t know when we’ll be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The same is true for those we love and hold close to our hearts. They are with us one day and then, through some senseless violence, our world is turned upside down and they are gone.

What happened on November 5, 2009, when Army Major Nidal Hasan entered the Soldier Readiness Center on Fort Hood, Texas, and opened fire with two pistols blazing? Hasan killed thirteen people and wounded more than two dozen others.

I’ve wrestled with how this tragedy occurred on a United States Army base. Perhaps more importantly, how could the Department of Defense determine the shooting was workplace violence and not an act of terrorism?

I’ve always felt safe entering the gates of a military compound both in the United States and abroad. Driving through the guarded gates always made me feel a little more secure. Unfortunately, I no longer feel that way.

When the enemy is a major in the United States Army, it’s difficult to maintain the sense of security I once had. I’m angry that in a place where I once felt safe, I now must be more vigilant.

It’s been reported the U.S. Military knew four years before the November 5, 2009, shootings that Hasan was a fanatic Islamist extremist who supported jihad, suicide attacks, and violence.

Additionally, an FBI official testified before Congress that Army Major Nidal Hasan should have been interviewed when it was learned he was e-mailing the late Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awiaki.

A two-year investigation by former FBI Director William Webster concluded FBI agents’ mistakes were unintentional and they should not be held responsible or punished for failing to prevent the shooting. Why not I ask?

The review found FBI agents on the San Diego Joint Terrorism Task Force were aware Hasan had contacted known terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen numerous times before the Fort Hood shootings. The agents did not bring the e-mails to the attention of the Department of Defense.

Unfortunately, three years later there’s no closure for the victims and Major Hasan still awaits trial.

Major Hasan, an American-born Muslim, faces the death penalty if convicted of thirteen counts of premeditated murder and thirty-two counts of attempted premeditated murder. The trial is on hold as his lawyers fight the trial judges’ order that Hasan either shave his beard, which violates Army rules, or be forcibly shaved before trial.

In my opinion, shave the man’s beard and get on with the trial. Hasan gave up the right to wear a beard when he joined the Army. In the meantime, ship Hasan to Leavenworth’s general population. Leavenworth is the United States sole maximum security penal facility for the military. If Hasan were incarcerated at Leavenworth, he’d probably decide shaving his beard wasn’t a problem after all.

One-hundred-forty-eight victims and family members have sued the U.S. Government for compensation for their injuries sustained November 5, 2009.

The lawsuit alleges negligence by the government that the Defense Department is avoiding legal and financial responsibility for the killings by referring to the shootings as workplace violence rather than terrorist attacks.

A perfect example of what is so wrong about everything that happened in the aftermath of the Fort Hood shootings is Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning. He was shot six times that day and his injuries are preventing him from continuing his military career. He won’t receive the same benefits as those severely wounded on the battlefield because an Army medical evaluation board deemed his injuries not combat-related.

Many additional lives were changed forever on that day in November three years ago.  We cannot possibly make any of the victims ‘whole’ again, but they do deserve to be heard and fairly compensated.

What’s your opinion: Were the Fort Hood shootings motivated by an act of terrorism or should they remain categorized as workplace violence?

About Sheri de Grom

Retired Fed/JAG, 5 yrs. on Capitol Hill. Former book buyer for B and N. Concerned citizen of military drawdown. Currently involved in mental healthcare reform, health care strategist and actively pursuing legislative change wherein dual retirees are exempt from enrolling in Medicare at their own discretion without losing tertiary healthcare benefits. Monitor and comment on Federal Register proposed legislation involving Mental Health, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Medicare and rural libraries. Licensed OSHA Inspector to include Super Fund sites. Full time caregive to Vietnam era veteran. Conceptualized, investigated possible alternatives, authored, lobbied for, and successfully implemented Title X, Section 1095 (known as the Third Party Collection Program of Federal Insurance).
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21 Responses to Terrorist Attack Or Workplace Violence?

  1. Marcia says:

    I agree with every comment here. Between things like this, and the sad, sad mess at Benghazi, I just don’t know what to think any more. The lunatics are in charge of the asylum, apparently, and we are paying the price daily, as a nation. And while I never, ever give up hope, in my heart, I fear it is only going to get worse. It’s no wonder I spend so much time with my nose in books!

    • Hello Marcia and welcome. I agree with you regarding the sad state of affairs we’ve allowed our country to get in. I’ve pretty much given up on the idea of trust. Sure, I can trust those I have in my immediate life, but now I must filter what’s printed or comes across the air. Thank you for stopping by and providing your opinion.

      • Marcia says:

        My pleasure. I enjoyed looking around, and look forward to reading more. And thanks for expressing this particular story so well. I avoid politics like the plague on my blogs, because they are part of my escape from reality mechanism, but I do follow what is going on, and will occasionally speak out here and there on issues that really touch my heart. You gave me a chance to at least agree with folks here, and I appreciate that.

  2. Utterly tragic. This goes well past workplace violence. This terrorist needs to stop being coddled and pay for his crimes already. Too many innocents hurt or killed. I also think it’s utter crap that Ssgt Manning is not being given the best possible care simply because his injuries were not deemed combat related. He was shot…on a military base….by a violent soldier! Ok. So maybe it’s a little non-traditional, but to me, that’s as “combat” as it gets.

    Like you, I used to feel extra safe on military bases. It stinks that those feelings have been damaged.

  3. thoughtsfromanamericanwoman says:

    Clearly an act of terrorism but sadly our government is afraid to condemn anything an act of terror in the fear of offending someone. I say shave the beard – it won’t take long and haul him off to trial. I also feel that is not the military that is making it more difficult for the families of the dead or the injured solider, it is our own government that won’t stand behind these brave men and women, not to mention those brave souls in Benghazi. Sheri you probably know than I do but I feel the military can only do what the government allows.

    • Patty – We both know the rulings came from the intelligence community in conjunction with the Secretary of Defense. If this had been a command decision at Fort Hood, there’s not a doubt in my mind that Hasan would have been dealt with properly. As military wives and then working on the inside of the government, I’ve often seen base commanders with their hands tied when they try to do what is right for the men and women that serve under their command. This was indeed a tragedy waiting to happen on our soil. Further – had appropriate actions been taken early-on before Hasan was pushed up the ladder, a psych eval would have revealed he was unfit for duty. It wouldn’t have mattered that he’s a psychiatrist himself. The evidence was there for all to see. I wonder how many more are out there just waiting to repeat Hasan’s actions.

      • thoughtsfromanamericanwoman says:

        Thank you for explaining more fully. I agree 100 % with you, the injured and the families need taken care of. I pray that a lesson was learned here and there won’t be any more repeat actions, but I doubt it. Keep us informed what you learn, I try to follow it on the news.

  4. Major Hasan brought his ideological issues into the workplace and turned it into a battleground. For this reason alone, those shootings cannot be considered “workplace violence” and its victims should be given the support given to combat victims. To do otherwise is to set a dangerous precedent.

    Had there been no ideological motivation, I could be convinced it was workplace violence. But, Hasan was an extremist being counseled by one of the most charismatic (and American-born) Islamist extremists on the planet… a person who was subsequently hunted down and killed without benefit of arrest or trial. If he was considered so dangerous that the U.S. government abrogated its own Constitution to kill without an arrest, trial or verdict, then intel MUST have known/assessed/judged/analysed that Hasan posed a grave risk given his rank, access to weapons and access to what should have been a secure base. It doesn’t take any great intellect to “triage” this person and make that determination. When one (extreme beliefs) plus one (senior rank) plus one (access to weapons) plus one (presence on base) equals thirty-two, then we have to question competency and judgment all the way up and down the chain of command. JMHO

  5. Sheri, that you had the stomach to serve our country for so many long years is a testatment to your inner strength. I have no answers for what happened in Fort Hood, but the general climate of the military and the way they brush off so many of the brave men and women who have served our country is an outrage. Thanks for making so many of use aware of what is going on out there 🙂

    • Florence, I’ve often thought being on the inside of what was going on and trying to make just one thing better was perhaps my responsibility as a citizen. I experienced and took part in so many positive changes. I don’t regret a day I worked to do my part (well maybe a week or two):) The assassination at Fort Hood could have been prevented at so many different layers of our government and speaks to how our intelligence community rolls over and plays dead on the very issues we cannot afford to dismiss. Trust me. I’d much rather be writing book reviews. This blog weighs heavy on my heart and I want resolution for the victims now! Immediately! Not tomorrow or next week or next year. As citizens of this country, the suffering at the hands of others must stop.

  6. Mae Clair says:

    Sad and appalling. This is clearly an act of terrorisim. And if, by some ludicrous stretch, it was workplace violence (which it’s clearly not) then he forfeited his right to wear a beard when he joined the Army. Can’t have it both ways.

    What I found really revolting is that while the judicial system debates Hasna’s beard, Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning ‘won’t receive the same benefits as those severely wounded on the battlefield’ because his injuries were deemed non-battle related. Huh? That’s just sickening!

    • You are so right, Mae. Unless SSG Manning and the other victims win their case against the government, he won’t have enough money to pay for his continuing care. If his military medical board had deemed his injuries to be combat related, he’d receive 100% coverage of his health care. This is so wrong for a soldier who gives his life for his country and then be denied the very benefits he deserves. I thought of the families left behind and those of the wounded on Thanksgiving and prayed they’d find resolution soon, but we know that’s not going to happen. Thank you for stepping to the plate on this issue. I’d like to see Hasan sent to Fort Leavenworth, the military’s maximum security prison, and put in the general population. That’s probably really bad of me to want that, but he just might feel a little terrorism of his own.

  7. This is terribly disturbing. I agree with Patricia that it seems Hasan is being treated differently. Is the government afraid of offending someone? Really? They should be shaving that guy and putting him on trial like they would any other terrorist, because that’s exactly what he is. The moment he had contact with extremists, he gave up the right to make any sort of princess demands. I feel bad for the families and victims of this crime. They’re the ones being punished instead of Hasan. Times like this, I’m not so proud of my government.

    • Tameri – I thought about not writing about this tragedy and then wondered how could I not? And, yes it’s our government that allowed an Islamist extremist within the ranks of the U.S. Army and then promoted him forward because no one really knew what to do with him. To think, on an ordinary day in November, slaughter occurred on the largest U.S. Army base and it could have been prevented.

  8. Seems to me that Hasan is being treated differently than he should be when it’s obvious he had contact with a known terrorist. What the heck is going on here? I can understand why you’re shaking your head.

  9. How devastatingly sad. Even worse is the government’s continued treatment and victimization (in my opinion) of the victims. This was obviously an act of terrorism and the government had all the necessary intel to have prevented it. Why they did not is beyond me but if nothing else, the victims should be treated and honored like they were injured or killed on the battlefield because they most certainly were.

    It is so sad when you see the government side stepping its responsibility and accountability at the expense of the very people that gave their lives to protect and serve. Our civilians employees are as crucial as the soldiers on the field and should be treated as such.

    My deepest condolences to all those affected. Now shave the man’s beard and put him on trial all ready. These people deserve closure.

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