Sen. Graham calls on Pentagon to label Fort Hood shooting an act of terrorism

Republican Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump says he will sign executive order to end family separations Trump backs narrow bill halting family separations: official Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Association of American Medical Colleges — Trump officials move to expand non-ObamaCare health plans | 'Zero tolerance' policy stirs fears in health community | New ObamaCare repeal plan MORE (S.C.) on Tuesday rejected the Defense Department's classification of the Fort Hood shooting as a case of workplace violence.

Defense officials have declined to label the attack, which killed 13 people and wounded 29 others in 2009, as an act of terrorism. Instead, they’ve depicted it as workplace violence, in part because they say they don’t want to jeopardize the government’s ongoing case against the accused shooter, Maj. Nidal Hassan.

Graham, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the DOD’s classification of the attack at the Texas military post does not give victims or their families the recognition they deserve.

"I respectfully disagree with the Department of Defense decision to classify the Fort Hood shooting as workplace violence," said Graham in a statement. "It's not fair to the victims, and their families, for this incident to be described in that manner."

Graham’s comments come just days after approximately 160 people, including family members of the victims of the shooting, issued a video and wrote to the Pentagon asking officials to label the attack an act of terrorism. They argue that by stopping short of calling it terrorism, victims of the attack who were members of the military will not be eligible to receive a Purple Heart.

The issue of whether to depict an attack as an act of terror recently came to the forefront of political and public debate, as members of the Obama administration initially contended that a September attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was not an act of terror.

Some Republicans have challenged that the administration was intentionally trying to mislead the public about the nature of the attack. But White House officials have said they were basing their initial statements on intelligence reports that linked the attack to a controversial video online. Those reports have since been discredited.

On Tuesday, Graham scolded the DOD for not moving to label the Fort Hood shooting as terrorism and called on the agency to reverse its decision.

“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."