Fort Hood Shooter Gets the Death Penalty He Allegedly Sought

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan sits in court for his court-martial Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013, in Forth Hood, Texas. 
National Journal
Matt Berman
See more stories about...
Matt Berman
Aug. 23, 2013, 10:22 a.m.

Maj. Nid­al Has­an was con­victed last Fri­day of pre­med­it­ated murder in the 2009 shoot­ing at the Fort Hood mil­it­ary base in Texas. The at­tack killed 13 people and in­jured more than 30. Has­an, an Army psy­chi­at­rist, said his goal was to help Muslim in­sur­gents over­seas.

The con­vic­tion made Has­an eli­gible for the death pen­alty, and pro­sec­utors pushed for it. On Wed­nes­day, a mil­it­ary jury sen­tenced him to death. He could be the first Amer­ic­an sol­dier to be ex­ecuted since 1961. But, based on the be­liefs of an at­tor­ney dur­ing the case, that sen­tence could give Has­an just what he wants.

Dur­ing the tri­al, Has­an chose to rep­res­ent him­self, but he had three standby mil­it­ary law­yers on hand for ad­vice if he re­ques­ted it. One of those de­fense at­tor­neys wor­ried earli­er this month that Has­an was “work­ing in con­cert with the pro­sec­u­tion in achiev­ing a death sen­tence.” That at­tor­ney, Lt. Col. Kris Poppe, told the judge in the case that it is “clear [Has­an’s] goal is to re­move im­ped­i­ments or obstacles to the death pen­alty and is work­ing to­wards a death pen­alty.”

Has­an took is­sue with the at­tor­ney’s in­ter­pret­a­tion of his de­fense, say­ing the at­tor­ney “made an as­ser­tion that is in­ac­cur­ate.”

In his self-de­fense, Has­san did not try, even a little, to present him­self as in­no­cent. In his open­ing state­ment, he said, “Evid­ence will clearly show that I am the shoot­er, and the dead bod­ies will show the war is an ugly thing.” The gov­ern­ment tried to make the case that Has­an “came to be­lieve he pos­sessed a ji­had duty to kill as many sol­diers as pos­sible.”

Wheth­er the death pen­alty is Has­an’s goal likely didn’t mat­ter in the sen­ten­cing, be­cause that is the pen­alty the pro­sec­u­tion was look­ing for. But it raises real ques­tions about how ser­i­ous a pun­ish­ment can be if it is what the crim­in­al is look­ing for. In court, the gov­ern­ment ar­gued that the death pen­alty is the only way to give the mil­it­ary and fam­il­ies of Has­an’s vic­tims justice and peace of mind. But if Has­an is look­ing to be­come a mar­tyr for his cause, it’s hard to see how giv­ing him that would help vic­tims and their fam­il­ies.

What We're Following See More »
SUFFOLK POLL
New Survey Shows Clinton Up 9 in Pennsylvania
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

If a new poll is to be believed, Hillary Clinton has a big lead in the all-important swing state of Pennsylvania. A new Suffolk University survey shows her ahead of Donald Trump, 50%-41%. In a four-way race, she maintains her nine-point lead, 46%-37%. "Pennsylvania has voted Democratic in the past six presidential elections, going back to Bill Clinton’s first win in 1992. Yet it is a rust belt state that could be in play, as indicated by recent general-election polling showing a close race."

Source:
$500 MILLION PROJECT
Obama Library Heading to Jackson Park in Chicago
8 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"President Barack Obama has chosen Jackson Park, a lakefront park that once hosted the world’s fair on the city’s South Side, for his $500 million presidential library, according to a person familiar with the matter."

Source:
THREE NIGHTS RUNNING
Democrats Beat Republicans in Convention Ratings So Far
8 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Wednesday was the third night in a row that the Democratic convention enjoyed a ratings win over the Republican convention last week. Which might have prompted a fundraising email from Donald Trump exhorting supporters not to watch. "Unless you want to be lied to, belittled, and attacked for your beliefs, don't watch Hillary's DNC speech tonight," the email read. "Instead, help Donald Trump hold her accountable, call out her lies and fight back against her nasty attacks."

Source:
THE QUESTION
How Many VIPs Were the Secret Service Protecting in Philly Last Night?
10 hours ago
THE ANSWER

Seven, according to an official Secret Service tweet.

Source:
‘MOGUL,’ ‘DAREDEVIL’
Candidates’ Code Names Revealed
10 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

The Clintons will retain their Secret Service "code names from the last time they lived in the White House. Hillary Clinton is EVERGREEN and Bill ClintonEAGLE. Donald Trump is MOGUL, according to reports, and Melania Trump MUSE. The vice presidents get code names, too: Mike Pence is HOOSIER—a little on the nose—and his wife HUMMINGBIRD. Tim Kaine is DAREDEVIL, somewhat ambitiously. His wife's? To be determined."

Source:
×