Two-and-a-half years after a shooting spree that left 13 dead at Fort Hood, it looks like Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan is finally going to go to trial.
Hasan’s pretrial hearings were held up when he grew a beard that he refused to shave. A military judge ordered that he be forcibly shaved to be in regulation, but an appeals court overturned the order and tossed the judge off the case.
In December, the new judge presiding over Hasan’s trial said he would be allowed to keep the beard.
The previous judge, Col. Gregory Gross, found Hasan in contempt of court half a dozen times over the beard.
The next pretrial hearing for Hasan is set for May 29 at the Lawrence J. Williams Judicial Center at Fort Hood, Texas.
Panel selection of the individuals who serve as a jury during military proceedings will begin May 30, and the trial is set for July 1.
Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill are still trying to get the Defense Department to recognize the massacre as an act of terror instead of “workplace violence,” which would qualify the victims for Purple Hearts and enable survivors to be eligible for certain benefits and treatment.
Reps. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.), Frank Wolf (R-Va.), and Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) slammed the “political sensitivities” that have kept the attack from being recognized as an act of terror in a letter sent to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week.
Victims, the members said, have “revealed claims of mistreatment by the Army” in meeting with the lawmakers, including “repeated denials and delays of medical treatment for individuals with physical injuries, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury; denials of retirement benefits; and overall negligence and disregard.”
“When members of our military and DoD civilians are brutally attacked – whether at home or abroad, by a ‘lone wolf’ or by a ‘card-carrying member’ of a designated terrorist organization – it is our responsibility to provide adequate oversight over DoD and the Army’s policies and decisions, both before and after such an attack,” Rooney, Fattah and Wolf wrote.
“The Army’s preferential treatment of Major Hasan – notwithstanding his open extremism and support for religious violence – and the FBI’s refusal to interview Hasan or notify his superiors of his multiple communications with the notorious terrorist leader Anwar al-Awlaki, apparently because of political sensitivities in the Washington Field Office, led to the Fort Hood attack. Frankly, we are deeply concerned that the same considerations of ‘political correctness’ that caused the horrible toll of deaths and injuries at Fort Hood have also informed the Army’s decision to deem his attack an act of ‘workplace violence.’”