Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Frustration evident as judge orders Hasan's physical

War of nerves extends to courtroom
Major Abu Nidal Malik Hasan with the beard that has delayed his trial for many months

Ft. Hood – Colonel Tara Olson struggled to remain stoic as she reviewed her frustrated efforts over the past month to order a physical examination for Major Abu Nidal Malik Hasan.

She is sure he is mentally capable of conducting his own defense, but needs the confirmation of a doctor to assure herself that he will be able to sit upright in a wheelchair during long days at the defense counsel table and equally long nights spent in preparation for the next day's general court martial proceedings.

He is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder, offenses which could net him the death penalty.

Before the Colonel allows him to fire his lawyers and represent himself, she must first assure herself he is able.

The Major wields a double-edged sword in his quest for justice.

To deny the request without legal justification could result in a reversal of a guilty verdict; to grant the motion carries a similar risk of reversal due to ineffectivity of counsel.

An Army psychiatrist who turned a high-powered semi-auto pistol on unarmed soldiers and civilians at Ft. Hood in November of 2009, the Major is paralyzed from the chest down.

A police officer finally stopped the murderous rampage when his bullet found its mark, damaging the doctor's spinal cord. The Major killed 13 persons in cold blood, including a pregnant woman who begged for her unborn child's life, and he wounded 32 others just steps from his office door at the Soldier Readiness Center at Ft. Hood.

His problem: He was being readied to deploy to Afghanistan, an assignment he loathed because of his devout Islamic faith. He had been in constant contact with extremist Muslim Mullahs for many months. It had become his opinion that many of the men he counseled and evaluated for symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder following multiple deployments to that nation and Iraq were guilty of war crimes, if not in terms of international jurisprudence, then in light of the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed.

The Major has had no physical examination since June of 2012.

The Court's questio is simple enough. Will he be able to sit upright for more than the four to five hours he is presently able to endure.

The Colonel asked him, “Where have you been for the last year?”
His reply, “In jail.”

He spends most of his time there reclining in a hospital bed in an intensive care unit at the Bell County Justice Center in nearby Belton. He is catherized; he voids his bowels in a colostomy bag; his body is heavily bandaged to prevent bed sores. His body is in a much weakened condition compared to his original level of strength following his initial recovery from the wounds he sustained in 2009.

Bearded with a misshapen brush that sprouts from his face and neck, he presents a sallow, sickly affect to the world around him. His features are gaunt, his body grossly bloated, appearing much larger than it actually is due to multiple layers of clothing.

I want to explore your physical health,” said Col. Olson. She referred, rather eloquently, and with great elegance, to certain "logistical" problems with his "health and care."

The judge had originally ordered an exam by a Dr. Gonzalez, but just as the appointment was scheduled, the government denied any further payment for his services, and doctors scrubbed the appointment due to a lack of available funding.

Asked for the name of his current treatment physician, the Major said he simply does not know. “It's changed so many times.”

The problem is simple enough. He has rejected all notion of being examined by members of the staff at Darnell Community Army Hospital.

He alleges that his ill relations with a certain supervising doctor by the name of Wright would likely result in “possible bias or command influence.”

His reason, he told the judge, was compelled “because of my previous experience with them. That was the reason for that.”

He withdrew his objection after demanding “relative assurance that he's (Dr. Wright) not going to have any influence over them (staff physicians).”

The doctor so assigned will examine the Major before Friday and turn in his written report. He will appear in Court on Monday at 9 a.m., ready to testify.

Col. Olson said she is unable to make any further determinations until that is accomplished.

She asked the Major is he is aware that the defense attorneys who represent him now are still his legal representatives until she possible rules otherwise, that they may be retained to assist him, he may retain private counsel, or other military lawyers could be assigned to assist him.

He said yes.

Asked if he understood, Col. Poppe, the lead defense counsel who is joined by two colleagues, replied in a rather dejected tone, “I understand the Court's statement; I do not understand our role...It puts us in a very awkward position.”

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