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A U.S. Army colonel, responding on Facebook to a Freedom of Information Act request by victims of the 2009 Fort Hood massacre, told them “Let’s move on, America. I did.”
Col. Nathan Banks has apologized for publicly responding to a private request for information by the victims, some of whom are still recovering from injuries suffered at the hands of now-inmate Nidal Hasan, a jihadist who, on Nov. 5, 2009, shot and killed 14 and injured another 30.
“If the Army was interested in allowing us to ‘move on’ they should think about finally declaring the shooting a terrorist attack and recognizing the ultimate sacrifice that so many made for their country that day,” said Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning, shot six times in the attack.
During the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, Banks was a spokesman at the Pentagon.
A local TV news outlet, NBC 5, filed a Freedom of Information Act request asking for Banks’ emails, as well as the emails of other high-ranking Army officials that communicated the day of the shooting, as part of an ongoing investigation into why the Army decided to not call the shooting an act of “terrorism.”
That decision has prevented some of the victims from receiving thousands of dollars in medical and retirement benefits.
On Facebook, Banks posted a copy of an NBC 5 records request, writing, “FB Family in all my 30 years of service I have never been FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) for anything I said or done or written until today. Myself, Sec. Robert Gates an Adm Mike Mullins was made mention for information back in 2009. I cant tell you what I had for lunch today, not to mention what happened in 2009. Lets move on America, I did….”
Banks now works for the U.S. Central Command.
A spokesman there told NBC 5: “The comments he posted to Facebook in no way reflect the official views or policies of U.S. Central Command” and that “appropriate administrative action has been taken to address this incident.”
Banks removed the Facebook post two days after it was published.
Reporter Scott Friedman sent Banks a message over Facebook. Banks responded saying, “I would like to deeply apologize for the private comments in a public place (Facebook) that were not intended in any way to diminish, minimize or negate the sense of loss, grief and sorrow suffered by those affected by the Fort Hood Shooting.”
Reed Rubinstein, the attorney representing approximately 140 Fort Hood victims, survivors and family members, said Banks’ comments were in line with government policy: “The Fort Hood terrorist attack of November 5, 2009, that killed fourteen Americans and wounded over 30 others, occurred because the DoD gave Nidal Hasan preferential treatment due to his religion. To cover up this truth, the DoD, the administration and the DoD’s friends in Congress have told America to ‘move on’ and leave the Fort Hood terror victims and their families behind. Over the past four and one-half years, the administration has created a record of dissembling and abuse. Congress, abdicating its responsibility, has repeatedly refused to hold the DoD accountable for its kid-glove favoritism of a known jihadist, much less make any serious effort ensure the survivors get the respect and compensation they deserve. In this light, it is easy to understand why Lt. Col. Banks’s made this disgusting and insulting statement – he was simply parroting government policy.”
Kim Munley is the former Fort Hood police officer who helped end the attack by firing at Nidal Hasan. She said the remarks were painful because she feels like the Army wants to move on and wants the terrorism question to just go away.
“Bottom line, they should tell the truth,” said Munley. “They don’t want to admit and have it you know publicly said that we had another act of terrorism on our own soil. But it is what it is. Say what it is and admit it.”
The Army still has not sent NBC 5 the records that were requested.
Hasan communicated with an al-Qaida leader in Yemen before the attack and has said he shot soldiers to protect Muslims in Afghanistan. But the Pentagon has so far said that’s not enough to prove a foreign terrorist connection.