During President Barack Obama’s counter-terrorism speech on Thursday he did something that hasn’t yet been done by the administration — at least not so overtly. He referred to the Fort Hood shooting as an act that was “inspired by larger notions of violent jihad.” That is big step toward dubbing the attack an act of terror instead of “workplace violence” as it has been categorized.
“Deranged or alienated individuals — often U.S. citizens or legal residents — can do enormous damage. Particularly when inspired by larger notions of violent jihad.” Obama said during the speech. “That pull towards extremism appears to have led to the shooting at Fort Hood and the bombing of the Boston Marathon.”
By linking the Boston bombing, which has officially been called terrorism, with Fort Hood, Obama essentially admitted that the former is a comparable act that could (or should) be given the same designation. This is notable for a number of reasons.
For quite some time, the government has taken criticism from liberals and conservatives, alike, for officially calling the 2009 shooting (the only prime suspect is former U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan) “workplace violence” instead of terrorism. Contention over this designation continues to run rampant.
Earlier this month, ABC News reported that at least one Democrat is joining the chorus of those who are discontented with the Obama administration’s failure to use the terrorism label:
A long-serving Pennsylvania Democrat has joined Republican colleagues to ask Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to overturn the “indefensible” decision by the military to designate the Fort Hood massacre “workplace violence” rather than terrorism.
“This designation has since resulted in an embarrassing lack of care and treatment by our military for the victims and their families,” said Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Penn.), Rep. Thomas Rooney (R-Fla.) and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Virg.) in a later dated May 6 and obtained by ABC News.
In the letter, the trio of lawmakers blame “considerations of ‘political correctness’” not only for the “workplace violence” designation, but for allowing the attack to unfold in the first place.
Fattah’s entrance into the controversy comes after Republicans in Congress have generally taken the lead in pressing the White House for answers about the victims’ treatment, as chronicled in an ABC News investigation.
Watch Obama’s comments about Fort Hood, below:
Following the speech, Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) noted the importance of Obama’s words, claiming that they may help push through efforts for a reclassification of the shooting.
“When he put Ft. Hood in the same breath as Boston… he was basically making our case for us,” Rooney said in an interview with Fox News.