Sunday, 13 November 2011

Victims, Families Seek $750 Million in Damages for Ft. Hood Shooting

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Nidal HasanA group of victims and family members of victims of the Ft. Hood shooting carried out by Army Major Nidal Hasan (shown at left) have filed a complaint against the U.S. Army for willful negligence seeking $750 million in damages.

The suit filed by 83 co-plaintiffs asserts that the Army was negligent in failing to take appropriate steps to prevent the former psychiatrist from carrying out the armed atrocity that resulted in the death of 13 people and the injury of 32 others on November 5, 2009 at a readiness center where soldiers prepared for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Specifically, the claim filed last week avers that on several occasions Major Nidal Hasan displayed behavior that should have been a clear and convincing warning to his superiors that he intended to harm his comrades and others.

According to an AP story reporting the filing of the lawsuit:

The government bowed to political correctness and not only ignored the threat Hasan presented but actually promoted him to the rank of major five months before the massacre, according to the administrative claims against the Defense Department, the Justice Department, and the FBI. 

Among those seeking compensation from the U.S. Army are 54 relatives of eight of the soldiers allegedly killed by Hasan in the shooting spree. Additionally, one civilian law enforcement officer and nine of the more than two dozen injured soldiers and 19 of their relatives have filed complaints.

An attorney representing the co-plaintiffs, Neal Sher, told the Associated Press: “It was unconscionable that Hasan was allowed to continue in the military and ultimately be in the position to perpetrate the only terror attack committed on U.S. soil since 9/11."

The civilian police officer suing the Army for its breach of duty is Sgt. Kimberly Munley. Officer Munley was shot by Hasan during her attempt to subdue the accused perpetrator. The gunshot wounds sustained by Munley ended her career and have caused her to undergo numerous operations.

According to reports filed in the wake of the murders, Officer Munley and fellow civilian policeman Sergeant Mark Todd ended the violence when they arrived on the scene and fired the shots that took down Hasan.

In the days following the horrific hail of gunfire at Ft. Hood, investigations began into the possible motives that could compel Major Hasan to fire on and mortally wound several of his fellow servicemen. 

Hasan, a psychiatrist educated at Virginia Tech University and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, was born in Virginia to immigrant parents from the West Bank. As a Muslim, Hasan’s piety and devotion to radical Islam have increased, as evidenced by his own rantings, conversations, and e-mails with Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemeni-based American Muslim recently killed by an unmanned drone controlled by agents of the American government. 

Despite being an American army officer sworn to be true to the Constitution of the United States, remarkably, Hasan listed his nationality as “Palestinian” on forms requesting his nationality. 

Apart from his devotion to the precepts preached by Awlaki, there were other signs that Hasan had adopted a dangerous attitude toward his Army, his country, and the war on terror into which he might soon be called as a combatant. He is suspected of having written various posts in online forums comparing the selfless acts of soldiers who jump on grenades to save the lives of comrades to those of suicide bombers. He allegedly told a co-worker at Fort Hood that he hoped that someday soon his fellow Muslims would unite and rise up against American “aggressors.”

A Muslim soldier also stationed at Fort Hood and acquainted with Hasan told reporters that Hasan railed against the war on terror, calling it a war against Islam that was financed by Jews. Multiple sources have indicated that Hasan did not try to keep these opinions to himself. In fact, he was reprimanded for having preached his doctrines to patients under his care at both Walter Reed Medical Center and Fort Hood.

Other examples of Hasan’s behavior while employed at Walter Reed unequivocally foreshadowed a violent and treasonous streak. Co-workers and supervisors who worked with Hasan at Walter Reed have told several news agencies that beginning in spring of 2008 during Hasan’s training there, a “series of meetings” were convened to discuss “serious concerns” about Major Hasan’s disturbing topics of conversations held with colleagues and patients, bizarre statements made to supervisors, and how such behavior was affecting his work. Unnamed officers present at the meetings claim that based on evidence presented at these meetings, there was reasonable suspicion that if Hasan were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan he might betray his country and offer aid and intelligence to the enemy, to the point of killing fellow servicemen as a Muslim sergeant had in 2003.

Despite regarding Major Hasan as a potential traitor to his country and one with perceived capacity for killing countrymen in the name of his religion, commanders at Walter Reed chose not to dismiss Hasan from the program because of how “cumbersome and lengthy” such a process is. Also, because Hasan is a Muslim and the terrorists with whom the United States is at war are Muslim, directors of the program were concerned that any disciplinary action could be interpreted as discriminatory and motivated by religious intolerance and profiling.

Further evidence of the Army’s possible negligence in failing to take appropriate action against Hasan is found in the record of his time studying at an army hospital. While completing his residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Major Nidal Hasan told an audience of fellow physicians that the Army should excuse Muslim soldiers from serving in combat zones where they would be fighting others of their faith. If Muslims in the U.S. Armed Forces were not thus afforded conscientious objector status, then there could be “adverse effects,” Hasan warned.

Then, in the summer of 2007, Hasan and his fellow residents were assigned by their superiors at Walter Reed to prepare a presentation on any topic of medical relevance. They were then to present their work to a group of senior psychiatrists as part of their final student evaluation.

As Major Hasan stepped to the podium and began his address to the 30 or so medical professionals in attendance, instead of confining himself to the assigned topic, for over an hour he showed 50 slides and lectured on suicide bombers, general principles of Islam, and the potential harm that the Army could expect from Muslim soldiers torn by conflicting loyalties to God and country. “It’s getting harder and harder for Muslims in the service to morally justify being in a military that seems constantly engaged against fellow Muslims,” Hasan told the undoubtedly perplexed crowd.

Eerily, Hasan’s presentation, which he entitled “The Koranic World View as It Relates to Muslims in the U.S. Military,” ended with a final slide that read: “We love death more then [sic] you love life!” 

For its part, the Army claims that it never received any intelligence reports from the government agents monitoring Hasan’s electronic correspondence that would have justified official reprimand or discipline.

In spite of their claim of ignorance, the record of Hasan's questionable behavior is clear and the Army cannot claim that it was unaware of Hasan’s unsatisfactory performance while at Walter Reed and the potentially harrowing content of his presentation and conversations while employed there.

The trial of Major Nidal Hasan is scheduled to begin in Texas in March, 2012.

Photo: Nidal Hasan

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