Griffin Demands Answers from President on Purple Hearts

Jun 1, 2012 Issues: Defense and National Security

WASHINGTON – Congressman Tim Griffin (AR-02) issued the following statement after sending a letter to President Obama requesting that he clarify his opposition to awarding Purple Hearts to Private William Andrew Long and Private Quinton Ezeagwula, victims of the June 1, 2009 military recruiting station shooting in Little Rock:

“As victims of terrorism who were targeted because they were soldiers, Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula and Pvt. William Long are both deserving of the Purple Heart.  Unfortunately, President Obama disagrees and recently threatened to veto a bill that would recognize their sacrifice, citing vague ‘appellate issues.’  I’m not convinced, and that’s why I’ve asked the President to outline his rationale in greater detail.  Anything less is a disservice to these two heroes and their families.” 

Excerpts from Rep. Griffin’s letter to President Obama:

I write today to express my concern regarding your Statement of Administration Policy on H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013.  I request that you provide clarification on your concerns regarding the awarding of the Purple Heart to the victims of the Little Rock military recruiting station shooting on June 1, 2009, that claimed the life of Private William Andrew Long and injured Private Quinton Ezeagwula. 

Specifically, in your statement on H.R. 4310, you object to awarding Privates Long and Ezeagwula with the Purple Heart, stating: “The criminal acts that occurred in Little Rock were tried by the State of Arkansas as violations of the State criminal code rather than as acts of terrorism; as a result, this provision could create appellate issues.”  It is my understanding that a plea of guilty makes an appeal unlikely and extremely difficult.  I am curious as to why awarding the Purple Heart to these soldiers would provide Muhammad with the ability to appeal his convictions.  I request that you provide my office with information on the specific appellate issues that awarding the Purple Heart would raise in Muhammad’s case to which you refer.