A coalition of Republican congressmen have introduced the Stop Pay for Violent Offenders Act, which would suspend pay for military service members if charged with a violent offense, including rape, sexual assault, or murder.
The bill comes as a response to the revelation that the alleged Fort Hood Massacre shooter, Nidal Hasan, has received over $278,000 worth of military pay while awaiting trial for charges of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder.
The representatives co-sponsoring the bill include Reps. Joe Barton (R-TX), Tim Griffin (R-AR), Tom Rooney (R-FL), and Frank Wolf, (R-VA).
"It is outrageous that taxpayers continue to pay an accused terrorist that killed more than a dozen people," said U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas. "Does anyone think this make sense? You are innocent until proven guilty in this country, but that doesn't mean you should be rewarded while awaiting trial."
Hasan’s trial, which began Tuesday, added fuel to the fire once Hasan, representing himself, admitted he was guilty of the charges held against him. During his brief opening statement, he confessed that he “is the shooter,” and explained that his motivation came from jihadist principles, which led him to shoot American soldiers to stop the ‘war on Islam.’
"Evidence from this trial will only show one side,” he said. “I was on the wrong side but I switched sides."
Furthermore, Hasan’s ‘standby attorneys’ assigned to his case have reason to believe Hasan is intentionally seeking the death penalty, hoping that his assassination by the ‘American Government’ will inspire the jihadist movement and extreme Islamists to act out against his death. His lawyers have spoken out against Hasan’s tactics, saying it would be “morally repugnant” for them to help him achieve the death sentence for such purposes.
It is hard to reconcile how American tax dollars were used to the pay the salary of a man who has admitted to murdering American soldiers to promote the jihadist movement. The proposed bill to suspend the salary of military personnel accused of violent offenses is noble in principle; however, as criminal defense attorney Jeff Ifrah points out, it will be difficult to implement the bill in a fair and balanced way.
Such a bill would be harmful to military personnel who are accused, but found not guilty, of violent offenses. Suspending their salaries would have damaging effects on their personal lives (unable to pay mortgages, car payments, etc.), which is one way of dishing out punishment before the accused is found guilty.
Hasan’s case is indeed rare and should not necessarily dictate government legislation that would place financial burden on military members, who are always innocent until proven guilty. However, American taxpayers deserve to know why Hasan’s trial was delayed for years (mostly due to his requests) while he raked in nearly $300,000 of their hard-earned money.