Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ft. Hood Shooting - terrorism, suicide attempt - what?

For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill. - Sun Tzu, "The Art of War"

Initial reports suggested two armed soldiers may have been chasing the shooter

Ft. Hood, Texas - When the plump man with the powerful semiautomatic handgun started for the exit of the Soldier Readiness Center, a female base police officer intercepted him.

He shot her in the legs twice, one of the bullets knocking her down due to a shattered femur. Her quick response probably saved many lives. In his wake, he left a dozen people dead, more than 40 wounded by bullets and shrapnel. Another would die within hours, bringing the death toll to 13.

As Major Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist from the Washington, D.C., area, stepped outside, another policeman shot him, paralyzing him from the chest down. He is a member of a West Bank Palestinian immigrant family displaced by the Arab-Israeli war of 1948.

Exactly what led to these unhappy circumstances is a matter of such extreme controversy and high security concerns that even the defense lawyer who has represented the accused since just days after it all happened says he has been unable to obtain no adequate information, even though he has repeatedly made motions for discovery.

First news reports carried the information there were three soldiers involved in the shooting, that one attack had taken place in an adjacent theater. Other reports said that at least one soldier with a weapon had been arrested after being rousted from the cart shed of a nearby golf course.

Eerily, the first incomplete reports suggested that there may have been two armed soldiers chasing a third who then attacked soldiers in the final processing stage for their deployment to Iraq – many of them for trips to the combat zone subsequent to others.

As the day wore on, the nation awakened once again to the threat that exists in everyone's mind, that our nation can and will be attacked by an implacable foe with a radical fundamentalist Islamic mentality who opposes America and Americans simply because of the nation's alliance with the nation of Israel.

The shooter, Major Hasan, had shouted in Arabic, “God is great!” as he opened fire on unarmed soldiers waiting for inoculations, physical exams, dental work, final legal processing, and the like.

At an Article 32 hearing held months later to see if there was enough evidence to bind him over for a General Court Martial for premeditated murder, civilians said they watched in horror as he passed over non-uniformed people and homed in on soldiers in his deadly attack.

Even more eerily, a website of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress disappeared from the internet the very next day after the attacks after news media obtained much information about the accused shooter from its pages. It was the only source of a picture of him for quite some time, and was billed as having a mission “to better understand the human trauma response and its mechanisms of disease and recovery.”

The website went on to say that the war of terror is one in which “Terrorism targets the morale, cohesion and social capital the shared sense of values and future of the nation. For these reasons, the mental health of the nation's people and their distress is now a concern for national security.”

On this website, the major had published papers detailing his findings about the treatment of soldiers for post traumatic stress disorder.

Major Hasan had been reported many times for attempting to proselytize soldiers in the cause of Islam after they were assigned to his treatment for symptoms of possible affliction of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following their return from the combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also contributed to fundamentalist Islamic websites on the subject of the religion of Islam.

At the time, Army and FBI investigators determined that his communication were in line with his civil rights and officials took no action against him.

The Army had expressed great concern with the inordinate number of suicides among soldiers recently returned from the combat zone and soldier on soldier violence perpetrated on and near military posts throughout the nation.

By the time the initial investigations were complete, the Army had arrived at the finding that Major Hasan acted alone, that he had carried out his murderous attack unaided by others, including radicals with whom he had communicated by internet and visited at a local mosque in the Killeen area and in the Alexandria, Virginia suburb of Washington from which he hails.

But the threat of conspiracy paid off last Wednesday, July 20, when the Major's civilian attorney, retired military lawyer and judge Colonel John P. Galligan of nearby Belton, took a temporary leave of absence from the case after Hasan released him at the arraignment hearing held at the Fort.

It is axiomatic of warfare, both ancient and modern, terroristic and mechanized, that the sweetest and most efficient victory is obtained without a shot being fired. The warrior philosopher Sun Tzu said it best in his essays on “The Art of War” when he said victory could be attained in the mind of the enemy without actually attacking.

In fact Pentagon planners in all branches of the Armed Forces have devoted vast resources to planning for and fending off attacks in cyberspace. It's the latest frontier of warfare, and it's a real venue for destruction.

Antagonists from both sides of the controversy have threatened Colonel Galligan's life and those of his family repeatedly since the day, Nov. 8, 2009, when he took the Major's case following the Nov. 5 attacks, according to sources close to the case.

His office has been threatened, as well, and is the object of intense security precautions.

He has made numerous complaints to the world's press and broadcasters that the Major is being treated very unfairly as each of many motions to discover the evidence that will be used against his client have been ignored or denied. It is a quest for mitigating circumstances that would tend to exculpate the psychiatrist for his actions as to their leading to a death sentence.

Colonel Gregory Gross, Ft. Hood's chief circuit judge, explained to the major in the Wednesday hearing that the prosecution must prove an aggravating circumstance to prove up a capitol count of murder, and that the aggravating factor must outweigh the mitigating factors by a unanimous vote of the panel of officers who will judge him. He is presumed innocent of capitol murder until proven guilty in a court of law.

Col. Galligan has repeatedly criticized the Army's pursuit of a death penalty, saying it is a needless complication.

In a statement to news media the day of the hearing, he said, “Over the past year, my family and I have been vilified by many for defending Major Nidal Hasan. That disparagement is misplaced. You will recall that an early President John Adams, was subjected to similar scorn when he led the defense of British soldiers charged in the Boston Massacre.” Col. Galligan said he will continue to monitor the case.

Col. Gross detailed three Army lawyers to defend Maj. Hasan. The major told the judge he is satisfied with the lawyers appointed to represent him.

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