The Administration is finally willing to describe the shooting that killed four Marines and a sailor in Chattanooga, Tennessee as a terrorist attack, and the Navy has announced that the victims will receive Purple Hearts.
Speaking at the NYPD Shield Conference in New York City, FBI Director James Comey said on Wednesday that his agency has “investigated Chattanooga as a terror attack from the beginning.”
“The Chattanooga killer was inspired by a foreign terror organization,” said Comey, as quoted by Fox News. “It’s hard to entangle which particular source… there are lots of competing poisons out there.”
It is strange for Comey to casually describe the terrorist nature of the Chattanooga attack as something everyone has acknowledged since the beginning, because in truth, the Administration has stubbornly resisted doing so.
Israel National News reported in July that Department of Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson told the Aspen Institute’s annual security forum that it was Administration policy to classify shooter Mohammad Abdulazeez as a “homegrown violent extremist,” because describing him as an “Islamic terrorist” would hamper efforts to gain the cooperation of the Muslim community.
Even now, Comey only used terrorism language in response to a direct question at the NYPD Shield event, using both San Bernardino and Chattanooga as examples of “terror attacks” the FBI has dealt with recently.
Within hours of Comey’s remarks, the Navy announced Purple Hearts for the slain Marine Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, Lance Corporal Skip Wells, Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, Sgt. Carson Holmquist, and Navy Petty Officer Randall Smith, as well as a wounded survivor, Marine Sgt. DeMonte Cheeley.
“This determination allows the Department of the Navy to move forward immediately with the award of the Purple Heart to the families of the five heroes who were victims of this terrorist attack, as well as to the surviving hero, Sgt. Cheeley,” said a statement from Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, as reported by CNN.
“Although the Purple Heart can never possibly replace this brave sailor and these brave Marines, it is my hope that as their families and the entire Department of the Navy team continue to mourn their loss, these awards provide some small measure of solace. Their heroism and service to our nation will be remembered always,” the statement from Mabus continued.
The Marine Corps proactively prepared Purple Heart nomination packages soon after the attack, but had to wait until the FBI investigation was completed and a formal designation of terrorism was made, according to a July report from the Washington Post. The Post noted that the criteria for the Purple Heart were changed in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act–changes inspired by the Administration’s notorious insistence on classifying the Ft. Hood shooting as “workplace violence.”
Tennessee Rep. Chuck Fleischmann had previously introduced a non-binding resolution to express the believe of Congress that “the Marines and Sailors lost or wounded in [the Chattanooga attack] are deserving of the Purple Heart and should be awarded appropriately.”
The Associated Press notes that before Comey’s remarks, the closest anyone in the Administration came to describing Chattanooga as a terrorist attack was when President Obama mentioned it, along with the Fort Hood and San Bernardino attacks, as an example of terrorists turning to “less complicated acts of violence like the mass shootings that are all too common in our society.”
The Obama Administration is in panic mode after the San Bernardino attack, and decided to quietly give up on what Fox News called its “semantic dance” over the Abdulazeez attack as part of its public-relations damage control effort. At least the right thing has finally been done, and the heroes of Chattanooga will receive the recognition they deserve.