Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Major Hasan awaits decision on whether he is fit to stand trial

 Egypt Update: I read a very interesting interview with Fareed Zakaria who is a Foreign Affairs Analyst and hosts "Fareed Zakaria GPS" on CNN. In the interview he is asked what he thinks 'should' happen in Egypt over the next few days. I think his answer was both intelligent and very well thought out and that it could have been read as a prediction of what will likely happen as the crisis continues. I recommend reading it if you have time. Just click here for the lick. 
         --and now the show:

Major Hasan awaits decision on whether he is fit to stand trial.

This is one of those stories, like so many others, that the media was all over when it first happened but now you have to dig to find out what progress is being made. Major Hasan is the man charged with killing 13 people and wounding 32 in November 2009 at Fort Hood in Texas.

When the story first broke there were a hell of a lot of questions regarding the Army’s handling of this man. In spite of bad performance evaluations and the fact that he openly criticized the United States for it policies in the Middle East and it’s dealings with Muslims he was promoted from Captain to Major.

The army apparently knew he was in regular email contact with Islamic radicals (including one who is now on the CIA’s most wanted list), and yet did nothing about it, not even monitor his other activities. Personally, I have been waiting to see if any of those questions get answered in the trail or in one of the separate investigations that followed the shooting. To my knowledge, nothing has been released to the public yet.

A mental health evaluation of the Fort Hood shooting suspect has been completed -- the next to final step in determining whether Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan is fit to stand trial. The mental evaluation has also been delivered to prosecutors, the defense lawyers, and to Col. Morgan Lamb, the senior military officer who must decide whether the case will move to a court martial.

The key question is still unknown: whether the report found that Hasan is competent to stand trial. It is a serious question. This man is charged with killing 13 people and wounding 32.

This latest legal milestone in the case comes just days before a Senate committee is set to release a report about still-secret intelligence and Army information about Hasan. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will also hold a hearing about whether the government could have, but failed, to prevent the shootings.
Witnesses at a preliminary hearing in November identified Hasan in the courtroom as the man they heard shout "God is great" in Arabic before opening fire with a handgun. He fired more than 200 rounds before he was shot by police. He is partially paralyzed, from the chest down, and uses a wheelchair.

Apparently the Major has been provided excellent representation in court. Hasan's defense attorney, former military judge John Galligan, has been highly critical of how the government has pursued the case and has complained that he has been denied government documents vital to defending his client. Galligan claims that the government failed to act even after intelligence agencies had advance knowledge that Hasan was communicating with Muslim radicals overseas. Galligan also says that Hasan's Army superiors turned a blind eye to his behavior when they evaluated his professional performance and promoted and transferred him.

All of the evidence I have read so far would seem to support this claim but, not being a lawyer, I fail to see how the Army’s bad handling of the information can be used to excuse his cold blooded shooting of 45 unarmed people. It can however put pressure on the Army to stop being so painfully politically correct that they are actually afraid to discipline a fanatic because of his religion –which is exactly what I believe happened in this case.

Live Long and Prosper.....

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