South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a senior Republican member of the Armed Forces Committee, on Tuesday said he sharply disagrees with the Department of Defense’s characterization of the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood as a case of workplace violence, not terrorism.
“I respectfully disagree with the Department of Defense decision to classify the Fort Hood shooting as workplace violence,” he said. “It’s not fair to the victims, and their families, for this incident to be described in that manner.”
Mr. Graham, a judge advocate general in the Air Force Reserves, pledged to work with his colleagues in the Senate to challenge the Pentagon’s characterization and push for an accurate description of Maj. Nadal Hasan’s deadly rampage at the military post in Killeen, Texas, nearly three years ago that left 13 dead and 30 wounded.
“Based upon what we already know, this episode fits squarely into the realm of an act of terrorism,” he said. “It was terrorism, and it should be described that way. The difference in characterization between workplace violence and an act of terrorism is meaningful, in a variety of ways, to the victims and their families.”
Last week, 160 victims and relatives called on the Pentagon to label the attack terrorism, pointing to the suspect’s ties to al Qaeda and his radical Islamist beliefs.
Officially designating the attack as terrorism would make service-member victims eligible for Purple Heart medals and, the victims say, grant them access to medical care and benefits similar to what soldiers wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan receive.
But late Friday the Department of Defense said it would not reclassify the attack “at this time,” citing concern that having the government weigh in could bias the case against Maj. Hasan, 42, who is awaiting trial and faces the death penalty if convicted.