After nearly four years of delays, the military trial of Nidal Malik Hasan, the accused Fort Hood shooter, begins today with Hasan representing himself against charges of 13 counts of premeditated murder and another 32 counts of attempted murder stemming from the attack on November 5, 2009. The costs of trying Hasan, estimated to be $5 million and counting, are compounded by the frustrations of many over the four years of delays, stalling tactics, and unexplained dithering by judges and Army officials. In addition, the Army considers the shooting to have been an incident of “workplace violence,” rather than a terrorist attack, denying benefits to the shooter’s victims that would otherwise have been paid. To top it off, Hasan has been living like a king at taxpayers’ expense while waiting for his trial to begin.
That he is guilty is not even contested by Hasan himself. He asked to plead guilty but was denied under Army rules because a court-martial conviction would require either a death sentence or life in prison without parole and such a plea-bargain would violate court-martial rules.
It was premeditated murder. He knew exactly what he was doing.
On July 31, 2009, he visited the Guns Galore shop in Killeen, Texas, and asked specifically for “the most technologically advanced weapon on the market and the one with the highest standard magazine capacity.” Based on recommendations by the store manager, he returned home to research the suggested firearm on the Internet and returned to the store the next day to make his purchase: an FN Five-seven pistol, with a standard 20-round magazine. He returned to the store on a weekly basis to purchase additional magazines and ammunition. He went to an outdoor shooting range to work on his marksmanship skills, which after a time allowed him to hit man-size silhouette targets at distances of up to 100 yards.
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