Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Glimpses of Hasan emerge in court testimony

Ft. Hood - A picture of how Major Abu Nidal Malik Hasan spends his days isolated in an intensive care facility in the Bell County jail is beginning to emerge in court testimony.

The former Army psychiatrist is paralyzed from the chest down following a murderous rampage in November 2009 in which he assaulted dozens of defenseless fellow soldiers and civilian workers in a handgun assault at this post, just days prior to his planned deployment in Afghanistan.

A devout Muslim converted to the jihad cause by internet connections he made following his education and residency in psychiatry, he shouted - in Arabic - “God is good!” as he brutally murdered 13 persons and wounded an additional 32 with a powerful handgun round designed to pierce body armor of the type worn by police officers and soldiers, the Herstal 5.7 mm x 27 mm. A police officer’s bullet injured his spine. He spent months in the Brooke Army Hospital’s intensive care unit, where he convalesced from his injuries.

According to the testimony of a doctor who specializes in rehabilitative medicine, he moves his bowels each day at 8:30 p.m. with the aid of a special massage technique that stimulates the paralyzed abdominal muscles of his body. He reads the Quran, prays, and spends his time reclining in a hospital bed where he reads material supplied by either jail staff or his attorneys..  

He dresses himself after first climbing out of bed with the assistance of hand rails specially installed for the purpose. Once he has performed certain chores involving personal hygiene, he climbs back into the sack, where he dons special underclothing, his uniform, and boots.

Reveille comes at 4:30 a.m. for the Major when jailers feed the prisoners. Lunch is served at 10:30 and supper at 4:30. “However, I fast extensively.”

After his evening meal, “I pray and go to bed.” There is no enforced bed time in the county lockup.

Asked if he is ever released from the confines of the cell, he replied that during contact visits with family members and attorneys, he is released, but, “Other than that, I stay in my cell.”

According to the judge’s instructions in a previous hearing, Major Hasan will not be allowed to make speeches of a religious or political nature.

Sometimes, actions speak louder than words.

In a previous hearing, he managed to have two of his attorneys banished to the spectator seats, disallowed their previous places at the defense table. Only the lead counsel will be allowed to sit at his side to offer legal advice on procedural matters, such as when to object to various lines of testimony and evidence in order to preserve a record of possible judicial error and a subsequent appeal.

He offered no reason for his objections to the other two attorneys.

Today’s hearing, held on a morning when sunrise came as a crescent moon glowed brightly at meridian height, is being held to consider a 3-month delay to his trial in order to adjust his defense strategy according to others’ help. It is unclear if this will be further explained in the ensuing dialogue.

The Major also wishes to add additional names to his witness list.

Flashing blue lights and sirens accompany the Major’s arrival on post each morning as a convoy of anonymous white vans and police cars speeds up to the main gate from Texas Highway 190, circles around his former duty station at Darnall Army Hospital, and winds through a residential neighborhood on post to the courthouse, where he is transported into the courtroom in his manual wheelchair.

The Major’s facial features appear sallow and gaunt, dominated by a busy, untrimmed beard protruding from his face and neck without any discernible trimmed shape.  His body appears bloated under his camouflage fatigues.

Controversy surrounding this beard delayed the trial for several months as the former judge - who was relieved following an appeal to a higher military tribunal - took a hard line and refused to allow the proceedings to take place until the Major complied with Army regulations and shaved himself.

The appeals court declared the matter of little importance and ordered the trial to proceed. At that time, Col. Tara Osborn took the bench as the trial judge in the matter.  

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