ABC's Nightline on Tuesday night uniquely highlighted the "betrayal" of Fort Hood victims by Barack Obama, exposing how the President "used" survivors as props for the 2010 State of the Union address. After 13 people were murdered by Nidal Hasan, the government labeled the shooting an example of "workplace violence" (instead of terrorism) and the Army decided not to award Purple Hearts to the victims. This has led to skyrocketing recovery costs for those who lived through the violence.
Talking to one of the heroes, Kimberly Munley, Ross explained, "A hero betrayed? Her courage saved lives during a massacre on a Texas Army base. So why is she now claiming President Obama and other victims?" He informed viewers that Munley believes "the President broke the promise made to her that all the victims and her families would be well-taken care of." ABC alone covered this angle of the survivors' suffering. NBC and CBS have, thus far, skipped it. [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
"Even as she was still recovering, the White House arranged a hero's welcome for her and her partner at the State of the Union address three years ago," the reporter explained. Ross added that Munley now feels "used." The civilian police officer attacked Obama, "Betrayal would be a good word."
Ross identified Staff Sargent Shawn Manning who "still has bullets lodged in his body." Manning "says he has lost almost $70,000 in benefits otherwise available to those with combat-related injuries."
It's true that ABC aired the story at 12:59am on Tuesday night, not exactly primetime. But the network also highlighted it on the February 12 World News. NBC and CBS haven't found any time to push the Democratic president for an explanation.
For more on this, see a NewsBusters blog by Tom Blumer.
[Thanks to MRC intern Matt Vespa for the transcript.]
A transcript of the February 12 segment is below:
TERRY MORAN: A hero betrayed? Her courage saved lives during a massacre on a Texas Army base. So why is she now claiming President Obama and other victims?
TERRY MORAN: A Sandy Hook Elementary teacher, the parents of a slain Chicago teen – Tonight at the Capitol, these were the people who took the seats of honor next to First Lady Michelle Obama. Not long ago, that same seat was held by the police sergeant hailed as a hero in the Fort Hood Massacre. But now she's claiming the president has turned his back on her. Some of the following images in this story may be difficult to watch. Here's ABC's Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross with a Nightline investigates.
BRIAN ROSS: In the three years since the attack at Fort Hood in Texas has been forgotten by many. But not by the victims. The people in the army processing room that day– who say they have been forgotten and neglected, too. This is what they experienced. Terror and chaos that has not been seen publicly until tonight in new footage obtained by ABC News, taken moments after the carnage ended.
STAFF SGT. ALONZO LUNSFORD: Everyone is scrambling. It's chaos.
STAFF SGT. SHAWN MANNING: A few seconds after he started shooting is when I took a round to the chest.
SGT. KIMBERLY MUNLEY: There was a lot of heroes that day, heroes that stayed on the scene that rendered first aid to the victims.
ROSS: 13 people killed including a pregnant soldier and 32 shot. None of whom, received the Purple Heart or any of the additional veterans medical and financial benefits given to those wound or killed in war. Because the military, to the outrage of the victims, has apparently deemed this workplace violence.
MANNING: It's no different than an insurgent in Iraq or Afghanistan trying to kill us.
ROSS: The accused shooter, a U.S. Army Major Nidal Hassan, identified in this photo by three of the victims allegedly shouted "Allahu Akbar" as he shot. He was only stopped by the bravery of a civilian police officer Sgt. Kimberly Munley and her partner Sgt. Mark Todd, who opened fire, and brought down the shooter.
MUNLEY: He was not through. He had over 177 rounds still left on his person.
ROSS: Sgt. Munley hit three times and seriously injured, became known across the country as a hero. Even as she was still recovering, the White House arranged a hero's welcome for her and her partner at the State of the Union address three years ago. But now she says she feels she was used.
MUNLEY: Betrayal would be a good word.
ROSS: Munley told ABC News the President broke the promise made to her that all the victims and her families would be well-taken care of. So when he told you 'we're going to take care of you,' that did not turn out to be true?
ROSS: What would you say to the President?
MUNLEY: If I were to see him again, – again, it's not about me, but I would just beg him, to please take care of us.
ROSS: At the heart of what has outraged Munley, and other Fort Hood victims, and led them to file this lawsuit – is the military's decision not to award Purple Hearts and its insistence on calling the shooting workplace violence, despite Major Hassan's documented communications with al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, who has since been killed in a U.S. drone strike.
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: It was clearly an act of terrorism that occurred that day. There's no question in my mind. And I think the victims should be treated as such.
ROSS: One of the victims, former Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning, who still has bullets lodged in his body, says he has lost almost $70,000 in benefits otherwise available to those with combat-related injuries.
MANNING: I mean, basically, they're treating us like I, you know, was downtown and got hit by a car.
ROSS: Initially, an army review board did classify Manning's injuries as combat related. But that was then overruled by higher-ups in the Army.
MANNING: I never would have thought that they would have basically neglected the people that were killed and wounded that day.
ROSS: Staff sergeant Alonzo Lunsford was shot seven times at Fort Hood and blinded in one eye. There are some bullets still in his body. As he saw where he was shot in the new video obtained by ABC News
LUNSFORD: I saw my blood where I was laying.
ROSS: Lunsford told us he still suffers every day from the physical and emotional pain of what he says was no different than being in a war zone.
LUNSFORD: It's a slap in the face. Not for me, but for all of the 32 that were in uniform that day.
ROSS: Some of the other victims from that day say they've had to go outside the military to get proper medical care.
REED RUBINSTEIN, Attorney for Fort Hood Victims: We have stories of soldiers who were forced to go -- had their parents find civilian doctors to get them proper medical treatment.
ROSS: Among those named in the lawsuit is the Secretary of the Army, John McHugh, who told ABC News he was unaware of the soldiers' complaints until we asked him about it.
ROSS: You had not heard that before?
JOHN MCHUGH: I have heard of certain concerns but not that they hadn't been getting treatment that they care about. It is not our intent to have two levels of care for people who are wounded by whatever means in uniform.
ROSS:As for the Purple Hearts, McHugh said the pending military trial of Major Hassan prevents the Army from awarding them to the victims of the Fort Hood shooting.
ROSS: Giving out Purple Heart– the process?
MCHUGH: To award a Purple Heart, it has to be done by a foreign terrorist element, so to declare that soldier a foreign terrorist; we're told it would have a potentially profound effect on the able to conduct the trial.
ROSS: Are you satisfied with that, Secretary?
MCHUGH: I think I've answered your questions repeatedly. [Gets up and angrily walks out.]
ROSS: You don't think that's insensitive to the soldiers? In a statement to ABC News, the Pentagon said survivors of the Fort Hood Shooting are eligible for the same medical benefits as all service members, but some in Congress, including the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Michael McCall, say they will introduce legislation to require the Fort Hood victims receive the Purple Heart and other benefits they say they are now being denied. Terry.
MORAN: Thanks, Brian, for that important story and we'll keep you posted on it.