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Fort Hood

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

REAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. Speaker, I hail from Central Texas, and I am very, very proud to say that I have the largest military facility in the world in my district, Fort Hood, Texas. If you are in the Army, you know where Fort Hood is. In fact, I think if you find any 20-year veteran of the Army, you will find out they have been to Fort Hood, some of them once, twice, three, four times, because it is a huge training post. And it is the great place, as they call it, in Central Texas.

The great place had a great disaster happen to us on November 5 of last year, when Major Nidal Hasan attacked and killed 13 soldiers and a baby in the womb, and wounded 43 others before two courageous police officers, responding to this violence at Fort Hood, came and basically shot the man and brought him down, one of them, a young lady, getting shot in the process. They got him captured. He is now the subject of much discussion around this House of Representatives.

And by the way, I don't know if anyone noticed. I was very surprised at the State of the Union to see those two officers sitting right up here with the First Lady of the United States, and I was very surprised also that they weren't introduced to the House. But if you noticed two police officers sitting by Michelle Obama, they weren't introduced at the State of the Union, but those were the two officers who responded to Major Hasan when he went on his shooting rampage. We honored them, and the President and the First Lady were honoring them as heroes of the United States, and rightfully so.

But I want us to first realize what happened at Fort Hood. And everybody says, Oh, come on. I know what happened. Sure, you listened to all the reports. But today I was talking with the mayor of Belton, which is actually the county seat of Bell County.

Fort Hood sits in two counties, Bell and Coryell County. Fort Hood is hundreds of thousands of acres and it straddles the county line between those two great counties. The combined population of the two counties is over 300,000 people. So this is a growing area of Texas, and much of that growth that is in the western part of Bell County and the eastern part of Coryell County is military folks that have retired and come back to live close to Fort Hood, or they are presently serving in the military in some form or fashion, or they got out and went to work for something that is related to the military in Central Texas.

We are a military community. We love our soldiers. I would argue that no place on Earth does more for the families and soldiers than Fort Hood, Texas.

I love to tell the story of being in a Rotary Club meeting back in 2003 or 2004, I don't remember what it was, but I know that the 4th Infantry Division was deployed overseas from Fort Hood at that time. And it was along about March, somewhere around that time, when I was going to give a talk to that Rotary Club. It is a huge club, meets in the morning. Hundreds of people were there. And one of the Rotarians got up and said, Ladies and gentlemen, I want to remind you, our soldiers are deployed. Baseball season is starting. Our coaches for our Little League, Pony, Colt, and other leagues where our kids play baseball are over fighting a war to protect our freedom, and we need coaches. So it is up to us Rotarians to stand in for those fathers and mothers who are not going to be able to coach their kids.

Now, that is a community that thinks outside the box to make sure that the kids and families of these deployed soldiers can live as normal a life as they can while these soldiers are deployed. I wanted to tell you that story, Members, because it tells you the heart of the Fort Hood community in an easy story.

But when I was visiting with the mayor of Belton today, you don't realize the ramifications of something like what this Major Hasan did.

First, we very quickly realized after the shooting and the days and weeks that came after the shooting that you had a lot of soldiers saying to themselves: Wait, a minute. This guy wasn't in some other Army. This guy was in my Army. He was in the same uniform I wear, and he shot my brother and sister soldiers and killed them and he was targeting soldiers to kill. Now, that plays upon the psyche of soldiers.

Now, let me explain to you how important this is at Fort Hood, Texas, because the Fourth Infantry Division deploys out of there, III Corps Command is at Fort Hood, and the 1st Cavalry Division, as well as various other organizations. All of these folks have been deployed multiple times. The people that are stationed at Fort Hood are war fighters, and they have been involved in this war since its inception, and they will continue to do their duty, which is a great strain upon their families and a great strain upon these individual soldiers. But they do it because it is the right thing to do and they know that.

These are our great generation. These are heroes, real true heroes. And do you know what? Just doing any job that is that stressful that many times repetitively wears upon you even if you weren't getting shot at or blown up. So this is a highly stressed, highly strung-out community.

When this happened at Fort Hood, first responders from all the surrounding communities headed to Fort Hood. SWAT teams headed for Fort Hood. And if you recall, if you were listening during the play-by-play as it was being developed, you heard people say there are some who say there were three shooters, and so they are looking for the other two. What I didn't realize until I was talking to the mayor of Belton--and Belton is like 26 miles from Fort Hood--he said that, because they didn't know if the other shooters had gotten out of the post and were loose in the community, they locked down all the schools where there were soldiers' children just in case this was a plan to spread out and kill family members.

And so we had, from high school down to elementary school, children locked down in the schools, and we were keeping people out and their parents couldn't pick them up. And the first responders' communications systems were overwhelmed with concerned parents from two full counties, 300,000 people.

So what this man did at Fort Hood that day frightened all the kids in two counties. And there are tens of thousands of kids going to those schools in those counties, multiple high schools. These are our largest high schools in Texas. They were locked down.

I tell you all this because I want you to know that this was truly, not just a traumatic event for the Army, this was a traumatic event for the people who support the Army and for the families who are supported by the people who support the Army.

Now, the mental health professionals came in in droves, and a lot of great work was done, and I praise everyone who did that. But when I heard that story about these little kids locked down, let's take some little sixth-grade kid or fifth-grade kid, or maybe someone smaller, a first-grade kid who had the trauma of all of a sudden the doors were locked to his school and his mama couldn't pick him up or her mama couldn't pick her up. And then they started hearing why: There has been somebody shot over at Fort Hood.

Now, all these kids have soldiers at Fort Hood who are their parents. Some of them have two parents who are soldiers at Fort Hood. Now, there has got to be fear in the hearts of these little kids, and they want to know what happened. And when school is out and people are talking about it and they are watching it on television, they are trying to figure out what happened. And I am sure parents tried to sit down and explain it where they calmed the little children down. But I am going to argue with you or state to you here tonight that a recent report that was put out by a commission that was appointed by the Obama administration to tell us about the incident at Fort Hood, I would say if you read that report or you explained that report to little kids who were locked down at Fort Hood, you wouldn't even know that Mr. Major Nidal Hasan gave every indication that he was a radical Islamic Muslim terrorist, because it is not discussed in the report, and it should be.

I don't know who pulled the strings on this, but I know who is responsible, and that is the administration. We learned all kinds of things the Army needs to do differently and all kinds of things they need to talk about, the chain of command, yada, yada, yada, as my college-age girl would say. But we didn't hear anything about radical Islam. We didn't hear anything about this because, I would argue, and I think there are people across this country that are arguing, that it was because of political correctness. Political correctness.

Excuse me, at some point in time it is just good intelligence, good police work to look at what makes up the chances are of the next terrorist attack. And to ignore it, and to act like you can't talk about it because you might hurt somebody's feelings--I tried sitting here tonight to remember as far back as I could, and I don't know how many years ago it was that the Munich Olympics was, but that was a radical Muslim terrorist attack. And every attack since that time has been a radical

Muslim terrorist attack. So why can't we talk about the fact that our enemy seems to be, good intelligence seems to tell us, is radical Islamic terrorists?

Now, why in the world can you write a report about a guy who walked down a peaceable line, some of the people checking in from being at war, and some of the people checking out to go to war, doing their everyday duty of getting through that process of processing in, processing out, and this guy walks down the line shooting soldiers in uniform, shouting out, ``Allahu Akbar,'' God is great, which is a part of the declaration of that religion. And I am not attacking that religion. But you can't talk about it. If you can't talk about it, you can't figure it out.

And to write a report with this many Americans killed where they should have been safe, and this many Americans wounded where they should have been safe, and not mention the profile of the guy that did the shooting, and to give me the excuse when I asked the question, well, we are afraid it will mess up their murder case. Well, let me tell you, I will state this again for the record, if you have got a law degree and you are supposed to be able to practice law and you can't prove a murder case where you got 200 eyewitnesses, you need to send your law degree back to law school and turn in your bar card because you are an ineffective lawyer. And there are at least 200 people that witnessed this guy shooting these folks.

So I mean give me a break. They don't have any proof problems to prove this case. That is not a reason not to talk about who did the shooting or who is alleged to do it. And I am an old judge, use the term alleged. It is perfectly good. But they don't even talk about who is alleged to have done the shooting or what kind of person that was.

What do we know about him now? I will have to give our news organizations a lot of credit. We know that he acted erratically for months before the attack. That he promoted radical Islamic views while at Walter Reed Hospital. That he exchanged emails with Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemen cleric which we are reading about every day in the newspaper who is one of the now major promoters of terrorism. No action was taken against him when he would have debates with other members of the military, and his position was what our soldiers were doing in Iraq and Afghanistan was worse than what terrorist attacks do or the 9/11 attack. That the 9/11 attack doesn't equal America's war fighting efforts. And nobody reported him? In fact, they promoted him to get him out of their hair, to move him to another duty station so they didn't have to put up with him.

And it was all about Islamic terrorism, and yet our government writes a report and just fails to mention it. And what is really amazing, really amazing to me, I mean there are a lot of people pointing a finger at me and saying that guy is a right wing wacko. That is why he is standing up there. I won't shy away from the right wing part of it. I will shy away from the wacko part.

But I will tell you, who else has raised this question? Kind of interesting. Time Magazine has raised the question in an article, ``Fort Hood Report: Why No Mention of Islam?'' Now, that is certainly not a famous right wing radical group. I would call them leaning over pretty hard to the left. Here is another one. You sure wouldn't consider people at the San Francisco Chronicle to be right wing wackos, but here it is: ``Political Correctness on Fort Hood at the Pentagon.'' And it is about why didn't they talk about who this guy was.

So that is one of the things I got up for. And I see I am joined by one of my dear friends, who is always there for me, Phil Gingrey from Georgia. He and I are classmates. He always has something good to say.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Reclaiming my time, we are going to call a terrorist a terrorist and say who he is, what he is, where he comes from, what his background is, and if religion has a part in it, what religion has a part in it.

We cannot afford--it's bad police work, if nothing else--to ignore that evidence. What do you tell that kid over at the high school when his dad is deployed and he asks his mom, he said, Wasn't this guy a soldier? Well, I can't say what kind of soldier he was because we've got to be politically correct. But, yes, he was a soldier. But how do I know my dad is safe with other soldiers? How do I know?

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

And this guy was radicalized. And now we're hearing--only from the news sources, not from the people in the administration that should be informing the public about this, but from news sources--we're hearing just how radicalized he was by conversations he's had. In fact, a Member of this House called a relative who went to medical school in the Army and happened to know the guy in medical school and said clear back in medical school he was talking about this stuff. That means we gave him--by the way, we paid for his medical education. And the good doctor from Georgia can tell you that's no small ticket right there. But we took this man and we put him through education and we educated him all the way through university, medical school, and all of his specialty stuff. The Army paid for that. You did. The taxpayers paid for that. And even then he was talking like this. Why can't we start being honest with ourselves and talk about these people? That's the issue.

You mentioned the Christmas Day bomber. Our good friend, Dr. Burgess--maybe he doesn't want me to tell you this--but he said, There's a guy that ought to be the easiest guy in the world to interrogate because this guy has just set himself on fire in his crotch area. Now his choice is to go back to Yemen and get treated over there, or be treated by the best medical community on Earth, as was pointed out. It wouldn't be hard to say, Tell us what you know and we'll get you the best doctors, the best reconstruction surgeons in America. And we are the best. And the guy would gratefully share, it would seem to me, but not after you've lawyered him up after an hour.

So, once again, though, I would argue we're playing the political correctness game. We wouldn't do the same thing for a regular criminal defendant, I'll tell you that. I'll tell you that. So it's different. And I worry about the fact. And that comment about overseas contingency. If they can't identify the war on terror as the war on terror, then we've got some black-and-white-striped cats that they're welcome to come down to Texas and pet those cats, because their really skunks. If you don't want to call them a skunk, call them a pussycat and start playing with them. See what happens to you. That's the same thing that happens to terrorists. If you're not going to call them a terrorist and point out what ideology is driving their thinking, then what are you going to do to identify your enemy and defeat your enemy? If you're not even going to call them an enemy, what are we doing?

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

I thank my friend for yielding. I thank my friend for mentioning these two bills that we've got out here. I tried a whistleblower case back about the mid-nineties sometime. A very interesting case. I won't go into the details. But it involved some organizations that were major political players and major financial players in Texas and a little small accountant who made a right statement but had stepped on some good-old-boy toes and so they fired the guy when the truth was he was telling that there was a lot of money that they were losing. It showed me why we have whistleblower laws: so the little guy who discovers a wrong can be comfortable in going to right that wrong without fear of retaliation, of getting fired because he did--told about something that the big boys didn't like.

Well, we've got this Military Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act. It protects military personnel from any negative action for reporting any regulation or law violation. Proposed protections for reporting ideologically based threat or actions a servicemember reasonably believes could be counterproductive or detrimental to the United States interests or security.

Basically, what we're saying to the ordinary soldier, to the soldier that was going through medical school with Mr. Hasan, to the soldier that was stationed with Mr. Hasan when he was a second lieutenant and then a first lieutenant and then a captain and as he got promoted to major, that somebody didn't have a fear that something would happen to their military career if they reported this guy was talking radical ideas to service people. He wasn't preaching religion to them. He was talking that blowing people up was good, fighting conventional war against terrorists was bad.

I mean, that's the kind of way he was talking. It didn't have anything to do with the Muslim religion. It had to do with terrorism being the right way to straighten out America. Excuse me? He was educated by the United States military. It kills me to hear that.

So I think it's a good bill. I hope we can get some action on it. I hope we can get it written into law. And I'm going to be working on it. I feel confident. I have a lot of folks that are cosigners to that bill.

This other one is pretty simple, too, really. What we had--and I can say this almost without--and I don't know the names and background of every one of these soldiers, but I have personally talked to several of them and the general consensus is everybody that got shot had either just come back from Iraq or getting ready to deploy again to either Iraq or Afghanistan.

And the reason we had mixed units that day at that center is because normally units go through as a group as they deploy, but these were the guys that were absent for some purpose. May have still been on the training range or something else. So they had to go make up by getting all the paperwork shuffled to get ready to deploy. That's why you heard it wasn't just one outfit that had all the deaths. It was multiple outfits around the Army because there are multiple outfits stationed at Fort Hood.

Anyway, I would argue these were warriors either returning from the war or going to the war and an enemy soldier, terrorist, disguised in a uniform of the United States military, walked into our warriors as they were peacefully getting ready and processing paper and started killing soldiers. And I do argue that's a combat situation. Whether you're killing a soldier in Afghanistan or Iraq or whether you're killing a soldier in a center at Fort Hood, if your intent is to kill soldiers to keep them out of the war against terror, you are an enemy combatant killing our soldiers. Therefore, they should be treated with combat respect.

This incident should be like we did for what happened at the Pentagon when it was attacked on 9/11. We declared that to be an incident in combat in the war on terror and the people who did heroic acts there received the appropriate medals and the appropriate benefits for being injured or killed in a combat zone.

I think Fort Hood and the incident that happened with Major Hasan should be a combat zone; and I'm trying to do it by statute. But it's been done by act of the Defense Department. I think it's time for it to be done. There are a lot of Purple Hearts that ought to be awarded, at least 43 that we know of. There are a lot of folks that should get civilian medals that were civilians that were accidentally wounded in the misfires. And there are benefits that attach to being killed or injured in combat. I think these people ought to get it. Just because they just got back from another country but they got shot in our country by an enemy soldier, I would argue they still ought to be treated as if they were wounded in combat.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

That's exactly right. And reclaiming my time, once again--and I'm not going to mention who said this, but it was said at the time. And although I understand why it was said, I think it was inappropriate. A statement was made, I certainly hope this incident at Fort Hood doesn't affect the Army's diversity program.

Excuse me. We had folks that had risked their lives for our country killed in their own backyard by an Islamic terrorist, and I think that it's not the time to be worrying about whether somebody's feelings may have gotten hurt because we're talking about this guy being an Islamic terrorist. He is. That's a fact. Why can't we talk about it?

I understand people talking about profiling, and what they're talking about is, in its ultimate extent, what offends people is situations in our historic past where, for example, there has been a shooting on the square. It's been identified. It was an African American. Round up all African Americans because the profile is African American. And that's where the whole idea of profiling--and you can expand it to American Indian, to Hispanic, to Vietnamese--identifying a whole group as evil because one was bad. And that's bad. And the police will tell you that that is not good police work.

But if the shooter is wearing a major's uniform, answers to the name of Hasan, and 200 people can identify him in a lineup for having done the shooting, then you ought to talk about what the guy looks like, where he comes from, what his background is, and what motivated him to do this, which is a radical religious belief, the bottom line. That's not being politically incorrect. That's being intelligent. I'm sorry. It's just common sense.

There's one thing I tell people back in Texas--I'm sure my friend in Georgia gets frustrated with it, too, sometimes. Inside this Beltway, the thing we lack the most seems to be common sense most of the time. Average American people know this, and I think that the Members of this House know that the folks back home know that this is something the administration should have addressed. Secretary Gates ordered it, but he's part of and takes his orders from the Commander in Chief, and they should be held responsible for their yielding the truth to political correctness. It's not the right thing to do. It harms those people who fearfully today, as I am talking, are standing in harm's way on our behalf, on my behalf, on your behalf, on everybody's behalf. They're doing the hard job.

There is a movie that's out that really is realistic. I'm going to quote it because I'm not trying to promote movies. But it makes you feel the stress that soldiers have to deal with when they have these explosive devices and having to deal with those explosive devices. It was so tense, my wife covered her head with a pillow because she just couldn't stand the tension of it. And then you think about it and say, You know, we eat in the mess hall at Fort Hood with these guys. They go through that every day, the stress. She covered her head with a pillow. These kids--kids--they deal with it every day. So they're not kids anymore when they go over there. They're men and women of courage and honor, and they understand what it means to be courageous.

So I think it's wrong for us to avoid describing our enemy to keep from stepping on somebody's toes. I have nothing against any--and when I say all this, let me preface this or finish this up by saying this is not about a religion. It's about a criminal defendant and his ID. And that's the way we should treat it. For that reason, I have raised this issue.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

I thank my friend for that comment, because what a heartwarming experience that would be for the families and some of the soldiers who were there and who are now in the combat zone to know that this Congress said, We recognize this was a combat situation. We acknowledge it unanimously. It is hard to get unanimous around here, but it would be nice. And I thank my friend for his participation.

Well, this is all a part of the chance that I get every now and then to talk about the rule of law and doing what's right and identifying what's wrong in this country and not being afraid to speak out and to point out when things are wrong. I want to end by saying that this is a wrong that needs to be righted, and this House and the Defense Department has the ability to right this wrong, and we should do it.

I want you to know that I consider Secretary Gates a friend. I have the highest respect for him. I had the highest respect for him when he was the top man at Texas A&M University when I represented that wonderful institution, and I still have the highest regard for him. But I do criticize and will continue to criticize letting political correctness interfere with making correct statements about what happened so that, if nothing else, the kids of these people in the Army who know that a major shot other people will have a good explanation as to why he did it and what the indications are as to why he did it so they're not worried about their mom or dad getting shot by another guy in uniform. That's a tragic situation.

I want to thank the Speaker for allowing me to have this time. I hope that we can right this wrong, and I hope that we can let common sense and right over wrong prevail in these two bills and in letting our heroes know what the right thing to do is and that we're going to do it.


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