Three U.S. congressmen joined the fight to reclassify the Fort Hood shooting as a terrorist event Monday with a strongly worded letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
The letter, sent by U.S. Reps. Tom Rooney, R-Fla.; Chaka Fattah, D-Pa.; and Frank Wolf, R-Va., accuses the Defense Department of kowtowing to “political correctness” in its decision to classify the Nov. 5, 2009, shooting on post as “workplace violence.”
Killeen’s representative, John Carter, a Republican, has sent similar letters to the Pentagon.
But Monday’s letter was the first to be signed by a Democrat. Fattah is a long-serving member of a Philadelphia district and a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
It was during a meeting of an appropriations subcommittee that the three congressmen discussed the issue with Attorney General Eric Holder. Those discussions led to the letter’s creation, said Michael Mahaffey, spokesman for Rooney.
Rooney in particular was interested in the issue because of past service at Fort Hood, where he served in the judge advocate general’s office.
“Calling this terrorist attack ‘workplace violence’ is an insult to the victims and their families, and it denies them the benefits they deserve,” Rooney said in a statement.
Those benefits include free health care, counseling and mental health services at Veterans Affairs. Several victims of the shooting and their families sued the government over the issue, seeking millions in damages.
The letter stated that preferential treatment of accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan in the Army and at the FBI resulted from political sensitivities.
“Frankly, we are deeply concerned that the same consideration of ‘political correctness’ that caused the horrible toll of deaths and injuries at Fort Hood have also informed the Army’s decision to deem his attack ‘workplace violence,’” the letter stated.
Hasan’s court-martial is slated to begin May 29. He has a pretrial hearing on post Thursday.