A top United States Army Colonel has angered some of the victims of the 2009 Fort Hood attack after he turned to social media criticizing an NBC 5 Investigates’ Freedom of Information Act request asking for documents related to the shooting.
In February, Col. Nathan Banks wrote on his personal Facebook page: “Let’s move on America, I did.”
Kim Munley is the former Fort Hood police officer who helped end the attack by firing at the gunman, Nidal Hasan.
In a recent interview with NBC 5 Investigates Munley said, “I think it’s insulting for anyone who represents or wears that uniform to ask anyone to forget about Nov. 5, 2009.”
Munly expressed that she and other victims have had a hard time moving on and she is disheartened by Banks’ comments.
The 2009 gunbattle with Hasan also left Munley wounded outside the building where 13 soldiers died and nearly three dozen others were injured.
Among the survivors was Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning, who was shot six times in the 2009 massacre and is still recovering.
“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," Manning said.
During the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, Banks was a spokesman at the Pentagon. Last August, NBC 5 Investigates 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.
Munley and others want the Pentagon to reclassify the attack.
“It’s about getting the benefits that they deserve so that they can live the rest of their lives and be OK,” said Munley.
On Facebook, Banks posted a copy of an NBC 5 Investigates 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….”
“It’s very troubling that you would see this from such a senior public affairs officer in the Army,” said former U.S. Marine Corps attorney, Colby Vokey.
Vokey believes Banks may have violated military rules by criticizing NBC 5 Investigates’ request on social media.
A Pentagon spokesman told NBC 5 Investigates, “soldiers are expected to maintain their professional military bearing both on an offline, in uniform and off duty.”
“I think there are a lot of people who take exception with a spokesman for the Army saying it’s time to move on you don’t need that information,” said Vokey.
Banks now works for the U.S. Central Command.
A spokesman there told NBC 5 Investigates, “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.
Investigative 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."
Munley said the colonel’s comments are painful because she feels like they Army wants to move on and wants the terrorism question to 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,” said Munley.
The Army still has not sent NBC 5 Investigates the records that were requested.
Army officials have pledged to review Hasan’s trial transcripts to see if there’s any more evidence the shooting was related to terrorism.
Hasan communicated with an al-Qaeda 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.