Published October 23, 2012
Sen. Lindsey Graham added his voice Tuesday to those calling for the Department of Defense to formally classify the Fort Hood shooting as terrorism, saying that classifying it "workplace violence" is "not fair" to the victims or their families.
The Republican senator was responding to a push by victims for the U.S. government to change its description of the rampage that left 13 dead. Such a change would make those who sustained injuries eligible for certain benefits and awards, like the Purple Heart.
A group called the Coalition of Fort Hood Heroes recently released a 14-minute Web video making their case -- those behind the video called on viewers to engage Congress in pressuring the Obama administration.
"Based upon what we already know, this episode fits squarely into the realm of an act of terrorism," Graham said in a written statement Tuesday. "I will be working with my colleagues in the Senate to challenge this characterization by the Pentagon and push for an accurate description of the tragic incident that took place at Fort Hood. 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," he said.
The Defense Department so far has resisted the push to designate it as terrorism, apparently reluctant to make any changes while suspect Nidal Hasan faces court martial.
"The Department of Defense is committed to the integrity of the ongoing court martial proceedings of (Hasan) and for that reason will not at this time further characterize the incident that occurred at Fort Hood on Nov. 5, 2009," Pentagon spokesman George Little said. "Major Hassan has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder. As with all pending (court martial) matters, the accused is innocent until proven guilty."
Little went on to say that "survivors of the incident at Fort Hood are eligible for the same medical benefits as any service member. The Department of Defense is committed to the highest care of those in our military family."
But survivor Kimberly Munley, a former federal police officer who was shot three times at Fort Hood and who appeared in the latest Web video, said that's not true. She said her group has heard "nothing" in response to its appeals.
"It's hard to fathom the fact that these are considered lone wolves or the act of workplace violence," she told Fox News.
The reference to "workplace violence" refers to an earlier Defense Department letter that depicted the 2009 shooting that way.
Those who claim it should be classified as terrorism point to the repeated contact Hasan had with radical U.S.-born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was later killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen.
In the Coalition of Fort Hood Heroes video, one of those injured in the attack said fellow victims "were fighting a domestic enemy" who wanted to prevent soldiers from deploying. "If that's not an act of war or an act of terrorism, then I don't know what is," he said.