Monday, July 15, 2013

For soldiers, it's a small world when it comes to terror

BULLETIN: The afernoon's voir dire examinations ended with two men who told prosecutors and the judge they could not render a fair and impartial verdict. One of the men, a Baptist, said his church does not hold with capital punishment. The other, a Catholic, said "They're okay with it," but he holds a capital case to a higher standard than others. Jury selection will resume Tuesday morning at 9 a.m.

Ft. Hood - The difference between Christian doctrine and Islamic jihad became very plain today in the questioning of prospective jurors.

A close friend - a classmate at the Army War College whose wife was pregnant at the same time his wife was - was sleeping in a tent when Sgt. Hasan Akbar attacked, killing two officers and wounding 14 others with grenades at Camp Pennsylvania, Kuwait, in 2003.

It was the first case of “fragging” since Vietnam. The perpetrator is a Muslim, raised in the Los Angeles suburn of Watts by a Palestinian father and an American mother who converted.

He is waiting on death row at the Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth for a Supreme Court review of his case and a Presidential signature on his execution order. The commanding general has already signed off on the execution of Sgt. Akbar for premeditated capital murder and attempted premeditated murder.

One of two senior field grade officers questioned today who said they are incapable of an impartial review of the facts of the capital murder case against Major Nidal Malik Hasan, he told Judge Tara Osborn when she asked if he has formed an opinion as to the guilt or innocence of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, “I’m afraid I have.”

As to the facts of the case, he said, his prior knowledge before he was ordered by his superiors to pay no attention to media reports about the Nov. 5, 2009 handgun attack on 45 people at the Soldier Readiness Center that left 13 dead and 32 wounded, “I understand that the accused was at the scene, was shot at the scene, and found with a weapon in his hand...

“Those issues are not peripheral.”

“I cannot...say in no circumstances will I fail to follow your instructions.”

And then there is matter of his religion. An Episcopalian, he is aware that his church is strongly opposed to the death penalty.

“I’ve thought about it a lot over the past year,” he told the judge after she mentioned that it seems to be something he has “struggled with.”

The Colonel said he will folllow the law, and that as to the death penalty, he will “consider, yes.” He added that, “As Christians, we are all sinners.”

Two other officers will be questioned after lunch as to their answers on the pre-screening questionnaire and and their responses to questions put to the group by an Army prosecutor.

The examination of jurors will be on hold until 2:30 p.m. to give the accused murderer a chance to observe his daily Islamic prayer regimen.

He entered no objections to the challenges for cause of the three high-ranking officers who say they cannot give fair and impartial consideration to the case against him, a case in which the United States of America is seeking his execution for capital murder and attempted capital murder.

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