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A Murderer by Any Other Name

In: Historical Events

Submitted By gfs6273
Words 1648
Pages 7
Brian Stoller
Ms. Baker
4 February 2013 A Murderer by any other name…. During my stay on the fabulous the Fort Hood Military Reservation I had the distinct pleasure to deploy with the 1st Cavalry Division to the desert paradise that is Iraq. I spent the majority of 2009 in the war-torn wasteland and was lucky enough to get my two week vacation near the end of October. While on vacation in the Chicago land area, I received a strange phone call from my boss. He asked me if I was on Fort Hood right now. Thinking it was a strange question, I said “no I’m not, why?” he said turn on CNN and he had to go and abruptly hung the phone up. Thinking how odd the whole thing was I turned on the TV and was shocked at what I was looking at. It was near real time coverage of a mass shooting on Fort Hood. Initial reports were sketchy but what they knew was that there were many dead and/or wounded, and the shooter was in uniform. Later it was revealed that the shooter was an Army psychologist by the name of MAJ Nadal Hassan, that he may or may not have acted alone, and he was a terrorist. This is a term in the US which is attached with a particular gravity, and extreme recourse, for terrorist are not mere criminals, but enemies of the state. There are a number of constitutional powers that are weapons against such an adversary. But is MAJ Nidal Hassan truly a terrorist, or is this just a workplace shooting? As the almighty political media spin machines power up, they were quick to label him terrorist; however it will stand out as a clear misuse of the term. MAJ Nidal Hassan is no more a terrorist than you or I, and his crime however tragic, is just a clear act of premeditated murder. I had the unique displeasure on meeting Nidal Hassan in the ladder months of 2008. Winter had nearly run its course and the north winds were starting to lose their icy bite. I was utilizing the Army’s overly complicated system that is Soldier Readiness Processing in the newly constructed Fort Hood SRP Complex. This process was an all-encompassing proofing process designed to screen soldiers for medical and social conditions that would exclude them from “deployable” status by Department of Defense (DOD) standards. The process was largely riddled with bureaucratic short comings common for military systems producing the usual byproducts such as civilian contracted oversight and very long lines. While waiting to clear station 13 known to all as clinical review I spotted the Major. He was a chubby soldier of Middle Eastern decent. He stood out among the other officers due to his ethnic background, which was an unfortunate byproduct of the current war (when Arabs are the enemy you tend to notice them). We didn’t speak but he looked very unhappy and disgruntled, but who wouldn’t working here? Dr. Michael Kelleher identified nine elements that directly impact the work environment: excessive workload, inadequate time to complete the assigned task, poor supervision, uncertain organizational climate, insufficient authority to meet job responsibilities, unclear responsibilities or job functions, philosophical differences between the organization and employee, unexpected or significant change at work or at home, and unanswered or unresolved frustrations (Kelleher 112). Working in the SRP process, Maj Hassan would have been subject to every single one of these elements, and mixed with his ideological ambitions, some would have been at their climax, and not likely to be resolved. He had all the possible ingredients for workplace violence you could possibly have. To exclude Maj Nidal Hassan from these criteria we must first look at what a Terrorist actually is. The exact definition of a terrorist is not a definite one by any stretch of the imagination. The definition largely changes from author to author much to the point that it is driven by politics rather than actual evidentiary basis. This concept has even found its way into American governing policy finding that the definition varies from one enforcement body to the next. For example the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) defines terrorism on its webpage as “Premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetuated against noncombat targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents”. Where the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines it on its website as “Domestic terrorism is the unlawful use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual based and operating entirely within the United States or Puerto Rico without foreign direction committed against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof in furtherance of political or social objectives.”. When the Nidal Hassan shooting is applied to either of these paradigms, we find that under either definition it fails to meet the criteria outlined in the referenced laws, but admittedly just by a hair. As far as the CIA definition goes Hassan was/is hardly a member of a subnational group, or a clandestine agent thereof, where the FBI definition falls short in the realm of district social or political objectives. It could be easily argued that the Hassan shooting demonstrated both noted shortcomings, but in fact he did not publically declare either a Sub-national group membership, or that his actions were in fact to further a political agenda of any variety prior to said act. Definitions of terrorism do exist however that the attack would meet specified criteria. The United Nations General Assembly issued a resolution that stated terrorism is “Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public” (United Nations). However not even amongst member states is this definition universally accepted. A report posted on the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs webpage cites an often stated point on the subject; “one state's ‘terrorist’ is another state's ‘freedom fighter’”. This very common break in ideals only further perpetuates the thought that terrorism itself is more political agenda rather than a specific crime, and more and more often there fails to be a cohesive agreement on whether it should separate on criminal terms. Most arguments currently being levied towards the “terrorism” argument in relation to the Fort Hood shooting are not being argued on the grounds of assailant, but rather the victims it seems. The current and most prominent outrage seems to be on the behalf of survivors and victims’ families citing that all victims deserve purple hearts and the benefits that accompany the medal. Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta stated that “The Department of Defense is committed to the integrity of the ongoing court martial proceedings of Major Nidal Hassan and for that reason will not further characterize, at this time, the incident that occurred at Fort Hood on November 5, 2009,” (Crabtree). Many Terror law experts are quick to chime in thought for the Victims and their families citing grave injustice and attacking current administration political agendas. Jeffery Addicott who is the director Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary’s University School stated that “To say that Hassan was not motivated by radical Islamic extremism is absurd.” (Crabtree). Truth be told he is most likely correct, but the fact that his convictions were not stated publically or that prior to the incident that he failed to claim a Para-military faction to act on the behalf of completely contradict nearly every accepted definition of the term terrorism. Fact of the matter is that you cannot hope to coerce any government by force or by any other means for that matter if you do not tell anybody you have an agenda and how your actions shall make it a reality. Nidal Hassan is a murderer and his charge list clearly reflects that it is an undertaking of massive scale, but terrorist is not a term he lives up too. It is a shame that the families do not get the full war time benefits that most soldiers who die during a time of war receive, but fact of the matter is they did not die in a combat zone, nor did they die by enemy action. Maj Nidal Hassan fails to meet the profile of the terrorist by not going through the usual motions of picking an outright political agenda, or aligning with any group or faction that has a political movement to die and/or kill for, and if he did he sure didn’t tell anyone about it at all. Any hint of political ambitions did not come to light tell after his trial was set to begin, and any statement at this point would be hard to take at face value due to the nature of what a defense strategy produces on a public stage. Do not overlook that terrorism itself is more agenda itself than crime in the first place either. In the end three facts remain apparent through all the fanfare: Maj Nidal Hassan did participate in an egregious act of workplace violence, 13 people lay dead by his hand, and this is a terrible tragedy that will remain as blight upon Fort Hood for many years to come.

Central Inteeligence Agency. CIA Terrorism FAQs. 13 July 2012. Web. 04 February 2013.
Crabtree, Susan. "Pentagon will not label Fort Hood shootings as terrorist attack." The Washington Times 22 October 2012: 2. Web.
FBI. "Terrorism 2002-2005." 1 October 2005. FBI Website. PDF File. 4 February 2013.
Kelleher, Michael D. New arenas for violence: Homicide in the American workplace. Westport: Prareger Pub, 1996. Print.
The Department of Emergency and Military Affairs. "Various Definitions of Terrorism." 28 September 2007. Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs . PDF File. 04 February 2013.
United Nations. "United Nation General Assembly Resolution 49/60." 84th plenary meeting. New York: UN, 1994. 4. Web.

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