Could an obscure military regulation really have led to the infamous Fort Hood shooter, Major Nidal Hasan, being not just promoted, but awarded the medal of honor?
Certainly, at least some people think so, given the existence of a new viral rumor to precisely that effect. What is worse is that there appears (that's a key word, but more on that later) to be at least one military news site substantiating the rumor -- specifically, the Duffel Blog. From their article on the subject:
Army officials have confirmed that Nidal Hasan was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel yesterday in a small and solemn ceremony in the gathering room of Fort Leavenworth’s maximum security prison.
The alleged mastermind behind the Fort Hood Shootings was ecstatic about the crossing of a major milestone in his military career and thanked all those in attendance. Meanwhile, protests were held outside the base, with people chanting “justice for the victims” and “don’t promote.” One participant stated that this ceremony was a “slap in the face of all the victims” from the massacre. Base officials refused to comment, declaring that Hassan’s promotion was decided months ago by personnel management officials.[...]
Hasan also received a Legion of Merit from his superiors at Darnell Army Medical Center at Fort Hood upon Hasan’s transfer to Fort Leavenworth. Standard practice in the Army is to award soldiers a “Permanent Change of Station” award reflecting the sum total of their contributions while at their installation. Since Hasan’s movement to Leavenworth’s maximum security facility was technically a Permanent Change of Station, he was submitted for the award as a formality. The Legion of Merit was awarded during the same ceremony as Hasan’s promotion, although the officer presenting the award was forced to move Hasan’s beard to one side to affix it to his uniform.
The award now hangs inside Hasan’s cell, below a framed letter from Osama Bin Laden, congratulating Hasan on the “successful slaughter of dozens of infidels.”
Surely, given the existence of a news story to this effect, the rumor's truth is cut and dried, right?
In this courtroom sketch, U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, center foreground with back showing, is seen sitting between members of is defense team during a hearing in Fort Hood, Texas, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012. (Photo: AP)
Actually, no. Not at all. A little cursory Googling immediately shows that the article is false. For instance, the full article mentions figures named General William Hewitt and Colonel Nathan Butterworth. No such Army officers exist. In fact, the only General William Hewitt we were able to find is a British army officer.
How could such a story be written, then? Simple: It is not a story. It is satire -- a joke. The Duffel Blog is not a news site. Rather, according to its own "About" page, it is essentially a military equivalent to "The Onion":
The Duffel Blog is sometimes referred to as “The military version of The Onion”, but this is a popular misconception. The misnomer was cleared up in May 2012 when TDB staff successfully conducted an airborne assault on the offices of The Onion News Network so that others would know “The Onion was actually the civilian version of The Duffel Blog.”[...]
We are in no way, shape, or form, a real news outlet. Just about everything on this website is satirical in nature. The content of this site is parody. No composition should be regarded as truthful, and no reference of an individual, company, or military unit seeks to inflict malice or emotional harm.
All characters, groups, and military units appearing in these works are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, or actual military units and companies is purely coincidental.
"The article was just a bit of political humor which played on stereotypes of military bureaucracy," the popular myth-busting site Snopes.com says.
Even if you don't find the joke funny, it's difficult to argue with the basic fact that it is a joke, and there is no "story" to substantiate the rumor. Major Nidal Hassan remains a Major, and his only potential promotion is to the post of "ex-Major."
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