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With Nidal Hasan bombshell, time to call Fort Hood shooting a terror attack?

Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Army major facing court-martial for a mass shooting at Fort Hood in 2009, plans to argue that he acted in defense of the Taliban in Afghanistan. So much for the official US line that the shootings were an act of workplace violence, critics say.


This undated file photo shows Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged in the deadly 2009 Fort Hood shooting. On Monday, Judge Col. Tara Osborn ruled that Hasan could fire his attorneys and defend himself, after deeming him sound enough in mind and body to represent himself in court.

Bell County Sheriff's Department/AP

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The admission by Army Maj. Nidal Hasan on Tuesday that he attacked Fort Hood in 2009 in defense of “the leadership of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the Taliban” has suddenly undermined the Obama administration’s previous contention that the murders of 13 soldiers at the Texas base constituted an act of “workplace violence.”

Hasan’s legal argument, which is being considered by the judge, Col. Tara Osborn, may reignite the political furor over how the Obama administration has classified the shootings, as well as arguments about whether the mass shootings constituted the first major Islamic jihadist attack on the US after 9/11. As recently as May 23, President Obama said no "large-scale" terrorism attacks on the homeland have occurred on his watch.

Officials at the US Department of Defense have said there isn't enough evidence to put Hasan on trial for an act of terrorism, and they have worried that such a claim could undermine the Army major's right to a fair trial.

Critics argue that the Fort Hood incident has not been characterized as a jihadist attack in part to give the Obama administration political and policy cover. Moreover, they add, the Obama position works to the detriment of shooting victims, which includes the 32 wounded and the families of those killed. Victims would have been eligible for combat compensation under US law if the Pentagon had classified Hasan not as a murderous US Army psychiatrist but rather as an enemy combatant or an “associated force” under the Military Commissions Act of 2006, they say.


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