When Hassan Malik Nadal, an active duty U.S. Army psychiatrist awaiting deployment to Iraq from Fort Hood, Texas, was found guilty of shooting and killing 13 soldiers and wounding 32 others, the federal government labeled the shootings workplace violence. They denied customary awards, such as Purple Hearts to those killed or wounded in action. The government’s decision was found offensive to many Americans given the shooter’s avowed support for radical Islamic causes. Public opinion caused the Department of Defense to reverse itself and ultimately award Purple Hearts to those who earned them at the hands of a terrorist at Fort Hood. The Foreseeable Risk Analysis Center agrees with the awards ultimately made to our troops and only regrets that the decision to award needed to be based on public pressure. In addition to the Order of the Purple Heart awards, the victims have become eligible for medical care and disability benefits for their combat injuries. It took 5 years for the White House and Defense Department to honor the nation’s debt to these soldiers.
The World Trade Center clean-up has come to an end ahead of schedule. Public mourning of the killed at “ground zero” is over. Americans across the country are trying to put the 9/11 tragedy behind them.
The West in general and the United States in particular has received another audio tape from Osama bin Laden warning of a future attack by al Qaeda on American soil. The news was received with the usual flurry of excitement by the media; we have since heard many opinions from experts on the significance of yet another warning against America from our leading terrorist enemy. Some attribute little significance to yet another threat against us, feeling comfortable with the preparations we have made against such attacks and the fact that we have not felt another sting from al Qaeda at home since 9/11. President Bush on the other hand advises we take the warning seriously and has called for support of his program to continue monitoring telephone calls made abroad by Americans to suspected terrorist organizations and individuals as essential to our defense. We believe that all threats of terrorism against Americans at home or abroad must be taken seriously because deadly terrorist activity continues around the world often threatening the United States and our allies, and that the public has a role to play in our defense.
We learn early on in life to anticipate danger usually as the result of being victimized by it. Whether it was the neighbor’s dog that frightened you with a growl or the pain of doctor’s needle when vaccinated, you learned to associate danger from an experience and tried to avoid the source of it in the future. In time we learned that not all pain was dangerous, and while it was unpleasant it could also warn and protect us from real danger. By learning to accept physical or emotional pain as a warning, we learned also to anticipate the danger that it represents and to make decisions about how to deal with risks of harm to ourselves and others.
Witnessing the horror of hurricane Katrina’s visit to New Orleans, Gulfport, Biloxi, and Mobile has left me shaken. This is not the first hurricane-imposed devastation I have seen. Hurricanes and earthquakes have visited America before — as have floods, blizzards, ice storms, and tornadoes — but never before have I seen so much devastation brought to bear on the United States mainland as has been witnessed in the heart of Dixie this week. We have become accustomed to watching the news media over-play the potential for disaster days before a storm is due to strike, and we take it in stride. However, sometimes they deserve the benefit of the doubt, and this time was one of them.
With terrorist explosions taking place around the globe on a daily basis, anyone who has not considered what steps to take to protect themselves and others from injury or death in a terrorist attack needs to do so — now! It’s become apparent that, despite the extraordinary efforts of law enforcement, the military, and the intelligence communities from the Russian Steppe to Bali, Islamic terrorism has the world in its icy grip and is able to reach out at will to slaughter the innocent, leaving behind chaos and terror. Each day, the morning news delivers another tale about the injury and death of ordinary people, whose lives were taken in an unexpected blast detonated by terrorists. For those of us who are the targets of terrorist rage, the time to act to defend ourselves is now.