|Out for an evening run his first night on post, Panelist No. 1 chanced across this memorial for the 45 people who fell to Dr. Hasan's deadly handgun attack at the Soldier Readiness Center (click here)|
A minimum number of 13 must be selected before the trial begins on August 6. Six additional prospective jurors will be questioned on Monday, July 15.
Ft. Hood - His name for the purposes of this news account is “Panelist No. 1.”
That’s because of the danger that if he’s picked as a member of the jury that will sit in judgment on Major Abu Nidal Malik Hasan, what he said during his examination by prosecutors and the judge could possibly cause his family to be targeted for retaliation by radical Muslims bent on jihad.
When Col. Tara Osborn asked the former garrison commander with experience in Afghanistan if he could render a verdict as to the guilt or innocence of the accused in an attack on 45 persons that left 13 dead and 32 wounded on Nov. 5, 2009, Panelst No. 1 said, “I believe I can be objective.”
Under further questioning by the chief prosecutor, howver, he qualified his answer, saying “I think I can, but I’m getting close to retirement - but there’s a small element of the unknown.”
“It (being picked as a prospective juror in Maj. Hasan’s trial) has detrimentally impacted me less, more my family...They don’t appreciate it too much.”
There was a job offer he had to turn down, two planned vacation trips to Disneyworld. “I’ve got a daughter who is 14...” His words trailed off. The last day he will serve his country as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army will come in February. He expressed certain skepticism that it will all be over by then.
Words seemed to fail the man, a seasoned warrior, a professional soldier.
And then his words came in a rush as he explained how “I’ve been held hostage by this thing now...we’re talking two Memorial Days, two Fourth of Julys.”
Later, when asked by Maj. Hasan about his answer to a certain inquiry on the questionnaire sent to the more than 100 prospective jurors.
This question dealt with his attitude toward the Quran, the holy book of Islam.
He answered that his impression is “somewhat unfavorable.”
In an exasperated tone, he said, “Okay, I filled that question out 14 months ago.”
Pressed for clarification, he said, “I believe in the Bible and I’ve done a little bit of study (at the Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania). One of my electives was on radical Islam.”
He based his answer on what he learned in that course.
According to a Navy Captain who taught the course, he learned, the radical elements of the Islamic faith make up a very small percentage, “that they’re the vast minority.”
Maj. Hasan asked, what was the Captain’s name? Did he recall?
He thought for a moment, then replied, in a dismissive tone of voice, “I don’t really remember...Now, I’m talking 10 years of war. I think that people do what I consider bad things - or what I consider bad things...That it’s okay to kill people, and I think that’s wrong.
Maj. Hasan wanted to question the man about a thesis he wrote during his studies at the war college.
The judge admonished both the prosecution and Maj. Hasan, saying “You need to keep your voir dire questions general in their nature.”
A check of the thesis written by the officer shows that the judge neatly avoided a long, drawn-out question and answer session about the nature of a seasoned war commander’s findings, reached from personal experience leading fighting men in the field.
A sampling from the paper, which was written and published in March of 2007:
“...Once written off as defeated, the Taliban are staging a comeback.
“Aided to a large degree by the sanctuary provided by refugees in the Federally Administered
Tribal Areas in Pakistan, the Taliban have survived the initial onslaught of Coalition forces and
begun a re-emergence as a viable political and military opposition to the democratically elected
Karzai government in Kabul. This re-birth is the result of both a political and military vacuum
throughout the country, and exploitation of Pashtun tribal fissures, particularly in the south, by
the Taliban. Additionally, the Taliban have implemented a revised military strategy which,
although unique to Afghanistan, has adopted some of the more successful tactics of Iraqi
The thesis goes on to conclude that when the Taliban took over a tribal area, they “immediately imposed their interpretation of Sharia law on the population...”
The conclusion he reached is that “most Afghans were also to realize that the Taliban offered little to nothing in the way of economic development and recovery”
When he passed the witness, Maj. Hasan said, “I appreciate this candor.”
The judge asked a couple of cursory questions about what the panelist has "seen or heard, or read" in the media.
“I read that there was, perhaps, a misunderstanding about Maj. Hasan not shaving...”
Words seemed to fail the man. Again, his voice seemed to trail off.
Has he formed any opinion as to the accused’s guilt or innocence based on what he has “heard, seen or read”?
“I do what you told us to do, Your Honor. I take it with a grain of salt, what I see in the media.” He agreed with Col. Osborn that it’s not always accurate, what you have “heard, seen, or read”
in the media.
And then Panelist No. 1 looked straight at the judge and said, forthrightly, but seemingly embarassed, in another rush of words, “I have some prostate problems, and 45 minutes for me is a strain. Lady, I’m going to have to go to the bathroom.”
The judge smiled, and said she understands perfectly.
Asked if the Government would have any further questions, the lead prosecutor, a Colonel with an erect military bearing and a whitened flat top barbered with utter precision, said, in a quiet tone of voice that, no, there were no further questions.
All the parties made notations, and when the officer was excused, he fled. He didn’t wait for the Staff Sergeant assigned to escort prospective jurors. He grabbed the door handle and walked away, back to the world of normalcy, back home, where a man or a woman is secure in their private thoughts about war and peace, what’s right or wrong - and the teachings found in books of Holy writ.