Maj. Hasan Sentenced to Death

Maj. Nidal Hasan killed a dozen soldiers and one civilian as they worked on paperwork or waited for their turn in preparation for a deployment to Afghanistan.  I previously wrote about the incident here and here.  A jury of senior Army officers deliberated for two hours and found that he should be put to death, that he should forfeit all pay and allowances and that he be dismissed from the service.  See San Antonio Express news report.  

In his attack, Maj. Hasan expended hundreds of rounds.  He shot many victims multiple times.  There was hatred behind his actions.  He targeted persons in uniform, but shot Michael Cahill, a civilian worker, when Mr. Cahill attacked the shooter with a chair.   That was the sort of people Maj. Hasan killed, people selfless enough to risk everything for one slim chance at helping another soldier.  The victims were much the better persons than their killer.  Maj. Hasan, however he cloaks his actions, was just another thug with a pistol.  As Maj. Hasan's Imam said, his actions were not the actions of a good Moslem.  Or, as Salma would have said, this was not "islam."  Salma would say that the same way we would describe some heinous act as "not Christian."  The names change, but the values remain the same. 

Months before the trial, the Army psychiatrist insisted on growing a beard in accordance with his interpretation of Islamic rules.  He was, however, still a member of the US Army.  The Army does not allow full beards.  So, that turned into one long battle over a beard.  Eventually the judge who ordered that Maj. Hasan be forcibly shaven, was replaced.  Maj. Hasan was then allowed to grow his beard. 

Maj. Hasan represented himself during his trial.  He fired his lawyers just a couple of weeks before the trial.  This was his second or third set of lawyers.  His lawyers said he was trying to become a martyr.  He did not put up much of a defense.  He never cross-examined a witness.  He proclaimed himself the shooter on the first day of trial.  When his turn came to put on evidence, he called no witness.  He may have been trying to lose.  Or, he may be narcissistic enough that he would not bother himself with the actions of persons he considers beneath him.  

Automatic appeals will follow that will take years.  The military form of criminal justice provides substantial safeguards for criminal service members.  Indeed, unless a jury finds different, convicted service members retain their rank and pay until their sentence is concluded.  Maj. Hasan's jury would take that away.  The man who swore an oath to help his fellow soldier will lose all benefits of that oath.  Even if he retains his life.

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