Former Counterterrorism Head: FBI Never Called Ft. Hood 'Workplace Violence'

Former Counterterrorism Head: FBI Never Called Ft. Hood 'Workplace Violence'

Michael Steinbach, former head of the FBI’s counterterrorism division and now special agent in charge of Miami, told over 30 congressional staffers in March of 2012 that, contrary to the White House’s classification, the bureau does not refer to the Fort Hood shooting as “workplace violence.” As head of the FBI counterterrorism division, Steinbach oversaw the investigation into the mass murder at Texas Army base.

Steinbach made this claim during an unclassified counterterrorism briefing on Capitol Hill. 

“Do you guys teach your agents that Fort Hood was workplace violence?” one staffer asked.

“I’m not gonna go there for you,” Steinbach responded.

“I think that’s along the lines of what we’re trying to discern here,” the staffer answered back.

“I appreciate it. I was just at a hearing yesterday and the very same question came up to our executive assistant director to the head (inaudible). No, that’s not the description of it. In that case, we took a very, very hard look at ourselves as well,” Steinbach explained.

He continued, “There was an internal review into the Fort Hood matter and what it was that we did and didn’t do well in that case and I don’t think anyone considers that–I’ve never heard that term used in the FBI or by any official in the FBI and there are some concerns as to whether or not people outside the FBI use that term.” 

“I’ll leave that to whoever said that to explain their words,” Steinbach concluded. “I have not heard it used at the FBI.”

Army Major Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, is accused of opening fire on November 5, 2009 at the Fort Hood, Texas Army Base, killed 13, including a pregnant woman, and injuring over 30 others. According to Lt. Gen. Robert Cone, a Fort Hood general, Hasan yelled “Allahu Akbar” (Arabic for “God is Great”) before he began shooting. 

The Department of Defense classified the Fort Hood shooting as “workplace violence.” Such a classification has denied the victims of the attack purple hearts and medical care Americans wounded overseas in combat zones would receive. 

According to ABC News, a Pentagon position paper issued on March 29 says that issuing purple hearts to the victims would “irrevocably alter the fundamental character of this time-honored decoration” and “undermine the prosecution of Major Nidal Hasan [the alleged Fort Hood shooter] by materially and directly compromising Major Hasan’s ability to receive a fair trial.”

The Army’s chief of staff at the time of the Fort hood attack, Gen. George Casey, said in November of 2012: “As horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.”

The paper was issued in response to legislation put forth again by Rep. John Carter (R-TX), whose district includes Fort Hood. The legislation would award both military and civilian fatalities of the attack combatant status.

Former police sergeant Kimberly Munley helped stop the attack at Fort Hood. She told ABC News she felt “betrayed” by President Obama, who promised the victims of the shooting would be taken care of.

Jury selection for Hasan’s trial is expected to start on May 29, with testimony beginning on July 1. Hasan faces the death penalty or life in prison without parole if convicted of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.