Nidal Hasan's guilt for the horrible Nov. 5, 2009, massacre at Fort Hood was certain even before he admitted it in the opening remarks of his court-martial. No one seriously disputed that a heavily armed Hasan gunned down dozens of fellow U.S. soldiers, killing 13 and wounding more than 30.
That was the verdict a military jury of 13 senior officers reached Friday, after seven hours of deliberations over two days. Not only did Hasan concede his actions, he barely mounted a defense after demanding to serve as his own lead counsel.
The only real question remains unanswered: What price will he pay? Because jurors unanimously found him guilty all 45 charges, including 13 of premeditated murder, Hasan is eligible for the death penalty. Testimony in the punishment phase of this court-martial begins Monday. If jurors are not unanimous for death, Hasan, 42, would receive life in prison.
Even with the heinousness of Hasan's crimes, the Dallas Morning News stands by its opposition to the death penalty. Tempting though it might be to argue for an exception for an Army major and psychiatrist who plotted to kill U.S. troops in cold blood, lethal injection would give this jihadist exactly what he wants.
Hasan, a Virginia-born Muslim, never intended to stand trial and fully expected he would achieve martyrdom in a burst of return gunfire that day. Over his objections to the war, Hasan had been scheduled to ship out with the soldiers he would attack in a processing center after screaming, "Allahu akbar!" He told jurors he "switched sides" and assumed the role of enemy fighter, hardly the "workplace violence" the federal government has called it. The judge, Col. Tara Osborn, disallowed his planned "in defense of others" trial strategy, "others" meaning the Taliban leaders he sought to protect from U.S. troops.
As his minimal defense proves, he still believes he can die a hero to fellow jihadists overseas by taking the needle. Why reward him?
Although he survived his shootout, a bullet struck his spine and left him paralyzed from the chest down. He relies on others for basic hygienic and therapeutic needs. It would not be a stretch to presume he sees life on this planet as intolerable. His body has become a burden.
Why grant him relief, while family members of those he killed and those who survived will never truly get theirs? Why give the killer an easy out?
If you believe in justice, consider a Nidal Hasan sentenced to a lonely, miserable life in an American prison cell, unable to perform the most basic tasks. As the months tick past, his fame diminishes among other jihadists. Instead of martyrdom, Hasan gets hour upon hour, year upon year to contemplate his hate. Maybe one day he will find remorse and shed tears for the lives he ruined.
To give him death is to deny America the justice too long overdue.
—The Dallas Morning News, Aug. 26