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Stephens Washington Bureau - Obama Administration Opposes Bill to Grant Medal to Slain Ark. Soldier

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By Peter Urban

The Obama administration said today it opposes legislation being considered this week by the House that would grant a Purple Heart to an Arkansas Army soldier shot to death in 2009 outside a recruiting center in Little Rock.

In a statement of administrative policy, the administration said it objects to the provision that U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, had included in the 2013 defense authorization bill.

The House is expected to take up the bill later this week. It includes language that would have the Department of Defense provide Purple Hearts to victims of shootings at Little Rock and Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009.

"The criminal acts that occurred in Little Rock were tried by the state of Arkansas as violations of the state criminal code rather than as acts of terrorism; as a result, this provision could create appellate issues," the White House said.

Service members are currently eligible for a Purple Heart if they are injured in a combat zone or are a victim of an international terror attack. The legislation would revise the law to extend the honor to military victims of terrorist attacks that occur on U.S. soil.

Army Pvt. William "Andy" Long was killed and Pvt. Quinton Ezeaqwula of Jacksonville was injured outside a Little Rock military recruiting center on June 1, 2009.

Long's killer, Abdulhakim Muhammad, is serving life in prison without the possibility for parole after pleading guilty in July to the shooting.

Thirteen people were killed and 32 wounded on Nov. 5, 2009, at Fort Hood. U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is awaiting trial for the attack.


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