On Wednesday a panel of 13 military officers handed down a death sentence for Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the U.S. Army psychiatrist who at Fort Hood in November 2009 killed 13 people and wounded 32 others. One of the survivors applauded the verdict and said Hasan doesn’t deserve to live. But in all likelihood the mass murderer will escape the death penalty and live on as a hero to his fellow jihadists.
The U.S. military has not executed an active-duty soldier since 1961, a span of more than half a century. The appeal process is lengthy and the final call goes to the president of the United States. The current incumbent is Barack Obama and the Hasan case served as a showcase for the president’s absurd and dangerous policies, such as decoupling terrorism and Islam. In the president’s view the problem is not imperialist Islam but stereotypes of Islam and “Islamophobia,” anything less than worshipful of the notion that Islam is a “religion of peace.” Nidal Hasan calls that stereotype into question.
As Andrew McCarthy noted in Spring Fever, Hasan was a “five-alarm jihadist,” and self-described “Soldier of Allah.” That raised legitimate concerns for the safety of U.S. troops, but it was not the only problem with the American-born Muslim. The Walter Reed Army Medical Center evaluated Captain Hasan as supremely incompetent. Even so, Captain Hasan gained promotion to major, the rank he held while making meticulous preparations to kill American soldiers.
Those preparations included emails to Anwar al-Awlaki, which the government possessed. The interception of emails is supposed to prevent terrorism but in the case of Hasan the authorities did nothing. Hasan bought a high-capacity handgun with laser sights and practiced diligently. On November 5, 2009 at Fort Hood’s Soldier Readiness Processing Center, U.S. troops were preparing for deployment to Afghanistan. Hasan opened fire on them, discharging more than 200 rounds. Private Francheska Velez, 21, was pregnant and as she pleaded for the life of her baby Hasan gunned her down, one of three women he killed that fateful day.
Predictably, President Obama’s first response to Hasan’s mass murder was brief, low key, and failed to ascribe any responsibility to Islamic terrorism. “We cannot fully know what leads a man to do such a thing,” the president said. Such breathtaking denial soon became official policy. The Obama administration’s Department of Defense issued Protecting the Force: Lessons from Fort Hood, which contains not a single reference to jihad or jihadists.
In a clear reflection of President Obama’s policies, the U.S. Army refused to call Hasan’s killing spree terrorism, even though his victims outnumber those killed in the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. He used a privately purchased handgun but the Army did not call his actions “gun violence.” His victims included blacks, Hispanics and non-Muslims, but the Army did not charge him with any hate crime. Rather, the government proclaimed the mass murder spree a case of “workplace violence,” which prevented the survivors from getting the medical treatment they needed. But while awaiting trial, Hasan continued to receive full pay, more than $278,000 since his arrest in 2009.
Hasan handled his own defense and wanted to plead guilty but under military rules was not allowed to do so. He claimed he was acting to protect the Taliban but Col. Tara Osborn, the Army’s replacement for judge Col. Gregory Gross, barred Hasan from making that claim in court. He got the guilty verdict he wanted and the 13 officers deliberated less than two hours before delivering the death sentence. But as civilian lawyer John P. Gilligan told the Washington Post, “In all honesty, he [Hasan] stands a far more likely chance of dying from medical reasons than dying because he’s been sentenced to death.” Even so, the trial was not a waste of time.
It did confirm that you can be an open jihadist in the U.S. Army and still get promoted. You can correspond freely with the most bloodthirsty foreign terrorists, and those conducting the surveillance will do nothing to stop you from killing American soldiers. You can kill 13 of them and the government will call it workplace violence and continue to pay you while denying benefits to your injured victims. You can announce that you are fighting for the Taliban, but the government will not let you say that in court, nor plead guilty. While a member of the U.S. Army, you can kill Americans for Allah, escape with your own life, and continue to campaign for jihad from prison.
As Rudy Giuliani warned in recent testimony, political correctness now trumps sound investigative practice. The Hasan case confirms that justice is another casualty.
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