Lieberman and King Introduce Legislation in Effort to Award Purple Heart to Military Personnel Killed/Wounded in Terror Attacks on Homeland

May 9, 2012 Issues: Domestic Radicalization / Radicalization Hearings, Counterterrorism

Would Include Active Duty Victims at Little Rock Recruiting Station and Fort Hood

Washington, D.C. – Today, Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Rep. Peter King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, announced that they have introduced legislation to remove barriers in the awarding of the Purple Heart to military victims of terrorist acts in the U.S. homeland, including the 2009 attacks on a military recruiting center in Little Rock and at Fort Hood, as well as similar future attacks.  The bill removes the distinction between international terrorism and domestic terrorism and also requires the Department of Defense to assess each case under the new parameters outlined in this legislation. 

Lieberman introduced  S.2885, on May 8th.  King introduced the bipartisan House bill, H.R. 5144, on April 27. 

Lieberman said:  “Congress has historically acted to ensure that the recognition we award to our servicemembers keeps pace with the threats they face. The war on terrorism continues at home, and we must face the reality that radicalized individuals and groups within the United States have targeted and will continue to target our men and women in uniform. This bill provides a long-overdue update to the eligibility criteria for the Purple Heart that acknowledges the threat of domestic terrorism. I hope that we can pass this legislation quickly and that the Little Rock and Fort Hood cases are reviewed expeditiously.”

King said:  “Military personnel here in the U.S. have become a target-of-choice for the Islamist terrorists we have battled since 9/11.  There have been at least 34 domestic terrorism threats, plots, or attacks against U.S. military communities since 2001.  The unfortunate fact is that members of our Armed Forces are at risk of being attacked by the enemy – al-Qaeda and its adherents – not only when deployed overseas, but also while stationed here at home.  My expectation is that as a result of this legislation, the Department of Defense will complete its assessment and rightfully award the brave men and women killed and injured in the Little Rock and Fort Hood attacks with the Purple Heart.” 

In December, Lieberman and King convened a joint Senate-House hearing to examine the terrorist threat to and within military communities.  At that hearing, the Committees heard testimony from Mr. Daris Long, whose son, U.S. Army Pvt. William Andrew Long, was shot and killed in the terrorist attack on the Little Rock recruiting center, but was denied the Purple Heart because he was not killed in battle.  Carlos Leon Bledsoe (Abdulhakim Muhammad), who was radicalized to violent Islamist extremism, is serving life in prison after pleading guilty to the attack.

Also in 2009, 13 people were murdered and 32 others wounded in a shooting attack at Fort Hood.  U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is awaiting trial for the attack. 

S.2885 is co-sponsored by Sens. Hutchison (R-TX), Cornyn (R-TX), Pryor (D-AR), and Boozman (R-AR).

H.R. 5144 is co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI), Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN), Rep. Bob Turner (R-NY), Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA), Rep. Janice Hahn (D-CA) -- all Members of the Committee on Homeland Security -- in addition to Rep. John Carter (R-TX), Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR), and Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR).

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