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 »
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."
"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."
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."
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."