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Obama and 'terrorism': why he hesitated to use that word

On Tuesday, President Obama referred to the bombings at Monday's Boston Marathon as 'terrorism,' after declining to do so right after the incident. His hesitation was classic 'Obama caution.'


President Obama makes a statement on the Boston bombing from the White House in Washington Tuesday.

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

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For the first time, President Obama has referred publicly to Monday’s Boston Marathon bomb attacks as “terrorism.”

“This was a heinous and cowardly act, and given what we now know about what took place, the FBI is investigating it as an act of terrorism,” the president said Tuesday from the White House briefing room. “Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror.”

On Monday evening, in his first statement on the explosions, Mr. Obama didn’t call the attack “terror” or “terrorism;” he called it a “tragedy,” sparking criticism from some conservatives that he was underplaying the meaning of what had happened. Yet right after the president’s remarks, a White House official told reporters that the administration was treating the attack as terrorism.


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