It seems that the entire world stopped as “that trial” gained the attention of news outlets, which almost all provided nonstop coverage, even while during sequestered breaks. Now that the trial is over and the defendant was found to be not guilty by a jury of his peers, he continues to be harassed and his civil rights violated by the DOJ, and people continue talking about race even though the FBI investigation found no racial bias. And now there is interference from out of State senate leaders and the federal government regarding Florida and other states’ Stand Your Ground laws.
While the media (and the Obama administration) made concerted efforts to ensure all eyes were on this very racially charged trial, there are two upcoming trials that all of us in New Media are hoping will get the same amount of coverage.
Keep in mind, none of the people who died at the hands of these two people may have looked like Obama’s son, “if he’d had one”, but the victims were sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, moms, dads and friends to someone.
First is the trial of accused Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan. In November 2009, Hasan, a Muslim US Army Major, shot and murdered:
62-year-old Mike Cahill, husband, father of 3 adult children, and grandfather
52-year-old Major Major L. Eduardo Caraveo, husband and father
32-year-old Staff Sgt. Justin M. DeCrow, husband and father of 1
56-year-old Capt. John Gaffaney, husband and father
29-year-old Army Specialist Frederick Greene, husband and father
22-year-old Spc. Jason Dean Hunt, new husband of 2 months
29-year-old Sgt. Amy Krueger
19-year-old Pfc. Aaron Thomas Nemelka
21-year-old Pfc. Michael Pearson
51-year-old Captain Russell Seager
21-year-old Pvt. Francheska Velez (and her unborn baby)
55-year-old Lt. Col. Juanita Warman, mother of 2 and grandmother of 6
23-year-old Pfc. Kham Xiong father of 3 young children
Hasan also wounded 32 others.
Nadal Hasan reportedly went on a shooting rampage while shouting “Allahu akbar” which is what Islamic terrorists typically shout when they’re committing terrorist acts. Yet, this act of domestic terrorism perpetrated on a US Army Base in Ft. Hood, Texas was termed by the US government as an “act of workplace violence” and the administration claims that by calling it terrorism would jeopardize Hasan’s right to a fair trial. According to the New York Times, back in June Hasan told the judge that “he believed he was defending the lives of the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan from American military personnel.”
Because of this administration’s decision to deny this as an act of terrorism, the families of the victims have had to fight to receive the Purple Heart medal. There is a medal for those who remotely operate drones, but the Army echoed the Obama administration and said that awarding the medal to those wounded and to the families of those killed in the attack would “set the stage for a formal declaration that Major Hasan is a terrorist” because the medal is presented to military members who are “wounded or killed in any action against an enemy of the United States.”
Not only do these victims not receive the deserved Purple Heart, they also lose the benefits due them. One of those wounded, Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning who was shot six times was denied benefits that he would have received had he been injured in an act of terror or a battle overseas. Since he and the others have been designated as victims of workplace violence, they get nothing. And yet Hasan, an admitted ‘defender of the Taliban’ who murdered American Soldiers and military personnel, is not considered an enemy of the United States and can get a fair trial. Hasan has also been allowed to keep a beard, which he says is an expression of his Muslim faith, though it violates Army rules on grooming. Worse still, Hasan has been receiving salary payments totaling more than $278,000 in the three-and-a-half years since being arrested!
In February of this year, Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) introduced a bill, called “The Fort Hood Families Benefits Protection Act,” which would award victims the Purple Heart or the civilian equivalent and provide all the benefits that come with those honors. The purpose of the bill was meant to “ensure that the victims and victims’ families of the November 5, 2009, attack at Fort Hood, Texas, receive the same treatment and benefits as those Americans who have been killed or wounded in a combat zone overseas and their families.”
If Rep. Carter’s bill passes, the families and victims of this terrorist attack would be able to claim benefits due them and also have the honor given by being awarded the Purple Heart. Unfortunately, 5 months have passed and the bill has yet to pass either house of Congress. While Congress has time to honor Treyvon Martin, join in solidarity with the likes of the Black Panthers, our military heroes and their families are once again shoved aside, being made to fight once more for benefits they earned and deserve.
In June Hasan’s request to represent himself at his upcoming trial was granted by the judge. This means that since he is representing himself, he will be able to question the witnesses and cross-examine them. Nearly three dozen soldiers wounded in the attack face the prospect of being questioned in court by Nidal Hasan whom witnesses have identified as the gunman. Hasan has also renewed a request to limit witness testimony during sentencing phase of the trial, believing that witnesses’ emotional testimonies usually sway judges to impose the death penalty.
Last week the jury was picked for the trial. Potential jurors filled out questionnaires about a year ago, and Hasan asked questions based on what they had filled out, some having to do with religion. He also mentioned his support for the Taliban and another American-born Muslim, Abdulhakim Muhammad (born Carlos Leon Bledsoe), who was sentenced to life in prison for the 2009 murder of Private William Long and wounding Private Quinton Ezeagwula outside of a military recruiting office in Little Rock, Arkansas. Col. Tara Osborn, the military judge, told Hasan numerous times to rephrase his questions, not mention his beliefs and reminded him that he was not to testify during jury selection.
The jury panel is made up of 13 officers. There are nine colonels, three lieutenant colonels and one major on the panel, according to the Killeen Daily Herald, who were brought in from Army posts nationwide. Death-penalty cases in the military require at least 12 jury members, and their verdict must be unanimous in finding the defendant guilty or passing a sentence. The testimony part of the trial is scheduled to begin August 6th.
Another trial going on is that of 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is accused of the Boston Marathon bombing. He pleaded not guilty to 30 counts on July 10, including construction and use of a weapon of mass destruction along with his brother and alleged co-conspirator Tamerlan who died during the massive manhunt for both suspects. Dzhokhar was arrested on 19 April, found holed up inside a boat, with serious injuries resulting from a gunfight with police.
Krystle Campbell, 29, Lingzi Lu, 23 and 8 year old Martin Richard were all killed and more than 260 injured including Paul and J.P Norden who both lost their right legs, when improvised bombs were detonated near the finish of the Boston marathon on April 15. Federal prosecutors claim that the brothers constructed, planted and detonated the two bombs. According to the Boston Herald, prosecutors are considering whether Tsarnaev should face the death penalty if found guilty. They interviewed victims and their families to figure out whether to seek the death penalty or not. The Boston Herald reports that their responses “will also sway U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz’s recommendation to Attorney General Eric Holder on whether to push for the death penalty.”
Again from the Herald:
“Holder’s changes to the death-penalty protocol, introduced two years ago, state that “unless extenuating circumstances exist, the United States Attorney or Assistant Attorney General should consult with the family of the victim, if reasonably available, concerning the decision on whether to seek the death penalty,” and that prosecutors “should include the views of the victim’s family concerning the death penalty in any submission made to the department.”
According to other reports, during the hearing proceedings, Tsarnaev looked “nonchalant, even bored”. His two sisters were also in court. As he was led out of the courtroom, Tsarnaev blew a kiss to them.
While the trial of one man who killed one victim in self-defense is still making national headlines, 17 dead victims and scores of wounded, because of the terrorism perpetrated by 3 men, are awaiting justice. What would it take for the media to give fair and balanced ‘reporting’ on these victims as much as they have given one Florida teen?