|New Bill Aims to Stop Nidal Hasan's Army Pay|
|By NED BERKOWITZ||Jul 23, 2013, 11:10 AM|
For the nearly four years since Army Maj. Nidal Hasan allegedly gunned down more than a dozen American servicemen, U.S. taxpayers have continued to pay his salary -- to the tune of around $300,000 so far. But new legislation, called the "Stop Pay for Violent Offenders Act" and introduced Monday in the House of Representatives, would authorize the military to suspend pay for Hasan and other members of the military for any capital or sex-related offense.
Current law allows the military to suspend the pay of civilian employees, but an Army spokesperson told ABC News last month that it cannot stop paying Hasan, who is still officially in the Army, at his usual pay grade unless he's convicted. Hasan has admitted to shooting his fellow soldiers, saying in June that the Nov. 5, 2009 attack on Fort Hood in Texas was done in the "defense of others," in his case, the Taliban. Hasan has repeatedly refused to enter a plea, so earlier this month the military pleaded "not guilty" for him.
While Hasan continues to draw about $80,000 per year, many of the Fort Hood victims say they've been denied financial and medical benefits due to the military's refusal to categorize the massacre as an act of terrorism, instead discussing it as "workplace violence."
In addition to his recent admission about his support for the Taliban, soon after the shooting, evidence emerged showing that Hasan was in communication with al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki prior to the attack. But in a letter in late May, a top Army attorney said that "the available evidence in this case does not, at this time, support a finding that the shooting at Fort Hood was an act of international terrorism."
The new legislation is cosponsored by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Virg.), Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.), and Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), who served in the military at Fort Hood before entering politics.
Griffin says it's "particularly troubling" that the Hasan case has taken so long to come to trial, enabling the alleged shooter to draw his salary for such a long time.
After many delays, Hasan's trial is set to get under way on August 6. He is charged with premeditated murder and attempted murder. He is acting as his own attorney, but according to Wolf, the military is footing the bill for legal advisors to assist him in his defense.
According to local news reports, Hasan's court martial has cost the Army about $4 million in personnel and other expenditures.
The new legislation, which also targets those accused of sex-related crimes, comes after recent Congressional hearings derided the military's response to sexual assaults. A recent Pentagon survey found that an estimated 26,000 sexual assaults took place last year.