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What fact do you suppose is better known: (a) that Nidal Hasan has been incarcerated since he killed 13 American soldiers and wounded several others while screaming, “Allahu Akbar!” in the 2009 Fort Hood massacre, or (b) that his victims were denied Purple Heart medals by the U.S. government?

Obviously, by leaps and bounds, the answer is (a). And for this reason, among several others, it is patently disgraceful that the Obama administration and its minions in the hyper-politically correct Pentagon brass are denying those soldiers shot by Hasan the military honors they are due — long overdue, actually – from having been wounded by an enemy operative in a wartime terrorist attack.

Speciously, military prosecutors are arguing that granting Purple Heart awards to the wounded victims would somehow prejudice Major Hasan’s upcoming trial because it would be tantamount to a branch of the government rendering a judgment that he is a terrorist and therefore already criminally culpable. The White House’s hacks at the Defense Department — both uniformed and non-uniformed — are reportedly trying to run this same jive by lawmakers, several of whom are incensed by the slight to the wounded. If they are capable of shame, administration officials ought to be ashamed by this frivolous claim, which dishonors not only Hasan’s victims but also the military justice system itself.

It has always been the proud boast of the military justice system that a truly innocent person has a better chance of being acquitted there than in the civilian system. That is because military trials are typically decided by panels of commissioned officers. For them, there is a solemnity about following orders that is unmatched by cross-sections of the general public who serve as petit jurors in civilian trials.

The military judge will instruct the panel that the case is to be decided solely based on the evidence presented in court – specifically, whether it establishes the elements of the offenses charged against Hasan. The jurors will be directed that they are not to decide the case based on outside publicity or any findings already made by other government officials – including in probes by the armed forces. In the trial, it will be for the panel alone, based on its assessment of the testimony and other evidence presented in court, to decide whether Hasan is guilty. There is a presumption in both the civilian and military systems that juries follow those instructions. We can have full confidence that, in the military system, the panel will honor the instructions of the court.

The administration-driven suggestion that the panel hearing Hasan’s case will be swayed by the awarding — or, for that matter, the non-awarding — of Purple Hearts is a slander on the military justice system. It is tantamount to saying we should presume that officers of the United States armed forces will defy their orders – which would itself be a profound offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Put law and honor aside for a moment, though. The Purple Heart argument is risible as a matter of common sense. Until a few days ago, no one was even thinking about Purple Hearts, much less that there was a controversy over them. Yet virtually everyone who knows anything about the Fort Hood jihadist attack knows that — like many aggressors charged with murder in American courts — Hasan has been detained without bail because of both the dangerousness he manifestly poses to the community and the flight risk his palpable guilt implies (notwithstanding his paralysis). Furthermore, there has been far more publicity about the fact that Hasan’s attorneys represented that Hasan was prepared to plead guilty on at least some of the charges than about the Purple Heart issue.

It is thus absurd to suggest that the award of Purple Hearts to Hasan’s victims would be incurably prejudicial to the military court’s ability to give Hasan a fair trial but, somehow, that his pretrial detention for four years and his desire to admit guilt would not.

In reality, none of these matters should affect the trial in the slightest. In a criminal trial, the conclusions of other fact-finders about matters relevant to the guilt or innocence of the accused are inadmissible. This is because, in our system, the verdict must be rendered by the jury. Trial judges thus make every effort to keep conclusions by outside factfinders from the jurors — just as jurors are constantly told to avoid reading media accounts about the case.

Of course, juries will often know or learn about extrajudicial factfinding anyway. After all, a defendant would not be standing trial in the first place unless government lawyers had determined he was guilty (it is unethical to prosecute otherwise). There would also be no trial unless a grand jury (or its military equivalent, an Article 32 investigative body) had been persuaded that there was sufficient cause to indict.

Moreover, it is often very obvious that defendants on trial — especially in a murder trial — are incarcerated. Invariably, there is heavy security in the courtroom; sometimes the trial testimony touches on things that happened in jail, unavoidably bringing the defendant’s detention to the fore; and sometimes the lawyers or the defendant himself will blurt out something that makes it clear that the defendant, though presumed innocent, is in custody and thus, in a sense, being treated as if he is already guilty.

Juries, however, are always instructed to ignore these things and decide the case based solely on their own assessment of the proof. The law presumes that jurors follow these instructions — and experience shows that jurors tend to weigh the evidence carefully in deliberations and to acquit where the evidence is weak. And again, military officers on a panel must be trusted to follow legal instructions not to factor in conclusions by outside investigators — the awarding of Purple Hearts to Hasan’s victims no more proves his guilt than the denial of Purple Hearts proves his innocence.

Most preposterous of all to this former prosecutor is the military’s silly assertion that awarding the Purple Heart to Hasan’s victims would enable Hasan’s lawyers to claim prejudice. Much of what prosecutors do in litigation involves responding to frivolous defense motions – that’s the job. Claims that defense lawyers now have no real chance of succeeding routinely get posited anyway, for two reasons: (a) Defense counsel seed the appellate record with any conceivable reason to get a conviction overturned (if counsel fails to raise a matter, it is deemed waived, so the lawyer’s incentive is to raise everything); and (b) defense counsel realize that, if the defendant is convicted, they will inevitably be accused of having performed incompetently – by making lots of motions, even weak ones, counsel help the reviewing court conclude that counsel provided zealous defense.

If I were a government lawyer, I’d be licking my chops to respond to defense lawyers who were claiming prejudice based on awarding Purple Hearts to the victims. Not only are the victims extraordinarily sympathetic – and some of them performed heroically. Remember that we’re talking here about a “Purple Hearts are prejudicial” claim being advanced by lawyers who themselves have already announced that Hasan wanted to plead guilty. Many litigation arguments are stressful. For a prosecutor, that one would be fun.

Hasan was an international terrorist plant who infiltrated our military and killed and wounded our troops in an atrocity that claimed many more lives than the jihadist bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. He was not merely a domestic imitator of al Qaeda; he was in frequent communication with Anwar al-Awlaki. Awlaki was a significant al Qaeda operative according to the Obama administration. That’s why the president authorized his killing — which would be a murder if it were not justified by Awlaki’s status as an enemy combatant under the laws of war.

Palpably, what Hasan executed, with Awlaki’s encouragement, was a jihadist atrocity — one that precisely targeted American armed forces personnel who were about to deploy to war zones to fight Hasan’s fellow jihadists.

To be sure, Hasan’s situation is highly embarrassing for the government. His communications with Awlaki were well-known to government officials. (And need we be reminded of Awlaki’s own communications with Pentagon officials? Of the FBI and Justice Department’s decision to release him after 9/11?) The failure to investigate Hasan competently and prevent him from being in a position to attack American troops was a gargantuan blunder; the effort to cover it up by labeling a jihadist attack as “workplace violence” has been even more offensive.

The awarding of Purple Hearts to Hasan’s victims would carry an implied acknowledgement by the government of its abysmal performance. But it would have nothing to do with, and no meaningful effect on, Hasan’s murder trial. For the administration to claim otherwise is fraudulent.

(Thumbnail on PJM homepage assembled using a Shutterstock.com image.)

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
"workplace violence"

Euphemisms. Excuses.

Alter the language, because we can't have a terrorist act on American soil on Obama's watch. Similarly, Benghazi had to be unplanned and stirred up by a video and could not possibly be related to ineptitude and nonchalance of the State Dept. relative to the real, known threats in eastern Libya.

Janet Napolitano said "the system worked" when the airplane passengers jumped the Underwear Bomber. (apparently, "the system" was for passengers to jump the guy)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Fort Hood is not in any designated combat zone!"
Neither were Pearl Harbor or Clark Field on the morning of December 7, 1941.
Those Fort Hood servicemen and women were attacked by an enemy operative who, were it not for the colossal politically-correct imbecility of the chain of command, should have been identified as such long before he was given the post of "counselling" returning Iraq-theater veterans because of the neccessity of having a "diverse" medical staff trumped the safety of soldiers.
9/11/2001 surely should have taught us that the ongoing war against Islamist terror has no "designated combat zones."
The refusal to grant the Fort Hood dead and wounded Purple Hearts is the latest in a string of betrayals of our best and bravest which rises to the highest levels of command: a ranting jihadist who made Powerpoint presentations justifying beheadings, communicated with known terrorists abroad, and continually accused the veterans he was "counselling" of committing war crimes was promoted and kept in his sensitive post because of an internal culture of political correctness; the continued designation of the attack as an "act of workplace violence" rather than an act of terror; and now the preposterous claim that awarding the medals would prejudice the outcome of the military trial of the traitor who murdered them.
I don't doubt that there are plenty of malingers lining up for veteran's disability benefits; to lump the dead and wounded of Fort Hood into that category is yet another insult added to the list of betrayals to which they've already been subjected.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (35)
All Comments   (35)
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I do not think I am being paranoid by expressing my concern for our troops at bases across the Country. The publicity of our troops being killed and injured by a Terrorist SOLDIER in their midst is sobering. Until this horrific action took place, I never imagined our troops had no way of defending themselves while on base. Everyone unarmed? Might as well call it a "Gun free zone," inviting both Terrorists and criminals to add them to their target list! Someone please tell me we are doing something to prevent further attacks on our own Military bases from within or without.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Here we go again. Pure "For profit" advertising on a site for serious discussion. Not a thought in her head but herself and pure greed. Not a word on the subject and no regard for the guidelines. When are you ad your fellow idiots going to get the message and stop posting here? Shame on you for degrading a site like this with your drivel, thereby insulting out brave Military as well?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
First, we were supposed to swallow the Terrorist attack at Ft. Hood as Workplace violence. Now the dead and injured soldiers are being denied their Purple Hearts, all so Obama can claim there have been no terrorist attacks on America during his Dynasty. Oops! My bad! Easy mistake to make when an egotistical, anti-American occupies the Office of the President. I vote we give Obama an award for "Workplace Negligence!" I am so proud of our troops and veterans! Thank you for your service, despite a lack of support from your Government, We The People support you!!!!!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
By what stretch of the imagination does an AD, obviously for profit, belong in "Comments?" evan 772 does not even HAVE a comment on the issue being discussed. This is an important issue and serious discussion. evan772 degrades the subject AND our Military with his greedy ad for nothing more than personal gain. He should be banned from commenting here. If he is so successful, let him pay for advertising elsewhere.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
When I 1st heard about this it angered me.Cause the people who did live&survive should get some kind of metals for going through such a tragic/horendous day.The man who caused this pain shouldn't remain alive anymore........................Seems the guilty get away with everything lately.Liz
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
These days, on military bases not in a combat zone, issued firearms are kept in the armory, not with the personnel they're issued to. Non issued (personal) firearms are usually not allowed without specific written permission. So much for the military's preparedness to confront the sudden, unpredictable violence of the asymmetrical war of terror declared on us by the violent Jihadist's of the "Religion of Peace".The old joke that "Military" and "Intelligence" should never be used in the same sentence is no longer a joke. It's a deadly, head in the sand, politically correct, myopic point of view. As I've said many times before: "At least an ostrich has enough sense to put it's head in the sand, and not some other dark, smelly place."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Correction: " ... put it's head in the sand", should read, " ... 'Stick' it's head in the sand ... ."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
it was bad enough that our military didn't have guns on a military base that allowed the massive harm done by this Muslim terrorist, but don't insult our intelligence and lower the morale of the troops by this idiocy.

We are in a war on terror, and this was a terrorist act, committed on American soil. Purple Hearts for all wounded, and time to hang this murderer, and stop the excuses. How long has the trial been going on.

I will even fly on my own dime to put the needle in his arm, though I would prefer to do the job with about dozen pork filled bullets, inflicting the most possible pain and harm to this man, as he dies by bullets filled with port.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Do they also believe that compensating victims of crime prejudices the trials of their attackers?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"workplace violence"

Euphemisms. Excuses.

Alter the language, because we can't have a terrorist act on American soil on Obama's watch. Similarly, Benghazi had to be unplanned and stirred up by a video and could not possibly be related to ineptitude and nonchalance of the State Dept. relative to the real, known threats in eastern Libya.

Janet Napolitano said "the system worked" when the airplane passengers jumped the Underwear Bomber. (apparently, "the system" was for passengers to jump the guy)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Although the Obama clique won't admit it, we are at war with
al Qaeda and if Hasan did his ugly deed on behalf of al Qaeda,
then those who deserve it should get the Purple Heart as
they were wounded in combat.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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