2009 Archives

Calling Ft. Hood attacks terrorism not simple matter for White House


The following is from the November 10, 2009, edition of The San Francisco Examiner. Political Science Professor Cal Jillson of SMU's Dedman College provided expertise for this story.

November 11, 2009

By: Julie Mason
Examiner White House Correspondent

President Obama heads to Fort Hood to honor those slain last week in a shocking act of violence, as the White House continued resisting enflaming high tensions by calling the incident an act of terrorism.

"I am not a law enforcement officer," said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. "I think everybody has been shocked and dismayed by what happened."

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, is accused of killing 13 people and wounding 29 others in a shooting Thursday at a Soldier Readiness Processing Center at Fort Hood in Texas. . .

(Former President George W.) Bush showed up at Fort Hood for a private visit on Friday night, with former first lady Laura Bush. The timely arrival from their Dallas home provided an uncomfortable example to Obama about what's expected of the consoler in chief, a role that does not come naturally to the emotionally reserved president.

"I think it's important for Obama to go, in the same way it was important for him to go to Dover to see the caskets being unloaded," said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University. "There is something to the idea that as president, you don't want to rush down to a disaster situation before it has stabilized."

Jillson said Bush's earlier, tough rhetoric about Islamic radicalism was more politically appropriate for post-9/11, but that Obama's nuanced approach is a better fit for the current climate.

Read the full story.

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