Military Justice 101 – Why Is This Case Taking So Long?

Answer: The US Army and its designated team of prosecutors have determined that this case will be handled as “a capital” (i.e. death penalty) case.

Although US Army prosecutors will refuse to comment and the Fort Hood Public Affairs Office (PAO) will issue some innocuous statement to the effect that this is just a “regular military justice action”, the simple fact is that the US Army and the most senior levels of the US Government have decided that this case will be disposed of in a capital setting?

What does that mean? What will that cost? And what will be the impact on future military justice cases? For an answer to these troubling and important questions – stay tuned to this website.

Article 32 Discovery Deadline Looms – But The Army Remains Unresponsive

Since the Article 32 Investigating Officer issued his discovery and scheduling deadlines, the US Army has been silent.  The Hasan Defense Team is still missing FBI reports and classified materials related to the White House directed intelligence investigation; the restricted/classified portion of former Secretary of the Army Togo West’s report; and the DOD-directed investigation of senior Walter Reed officials.  No reason has been provided for the failure to provide this relevant evidence.   Of course, senior US Senators Lieberman and Collins are also awaiting a response to their Senate subpoena for similar materials.  Sadly, more information about this case is available through national news media outlets and the Internet than thru military justice channels. 

Why is the US Army hiding the ball?   Why does the US Army refuse to release this evidence to the US Senate or to the Hasan Defense Team? 

At this juncture, it seems reasonable to ask – it the US Army refusal to accord Major Hasan proper pretrial discovery because he is Muslim?

New Rules Impede Pretrial Access

During a recent visit with Major Hasan, Defense Counsel were confronted with newly established “Visitation Rules’ which were clearly implemented for the Hasan case only.  Apparently, US Army officials were upset that a recent photograph of Major Hasan was circulating the internet and in national news media.  Defense Counsel took the photo at issue.  The photo was in good taste and certainly more proper than the “booking photo” that was earlier being used by journalists.  Anyway, Army officials are upset and they responded by imposing the following restriction to attorney-client visits:

Cell phones, photographic equipment, recording devices, weapons, aerosols, food, drink are unauthorized during visitation.  Legal paperwork and laptops with photographic and recording devices placed in the non-operational mode are authorized upon search for the purpose of legal counsel only.

      To ensure appropriate dignity and respect is accorded to Major Hasasn, the Defense Team has requested US Army officials at Fort Hood  to arrange for taking an updated official photograph.  Wonder how long it might take to get this simple task accomplished?  Just wait and see….

Senators Lieberman & Collins Are Silent – Did They Cave To DOD Pressure?

The national news media is noticeably silent as to the standoff between  Senators Lieberman and Collins regarding the earlier issued Senate subpoenas requesting evidence associated with the Hasan case.  The word on the street is that these senior Senators are agreeing to compromise for some alternative system of briefing from DOD personnel. 

Meanwhile, US Army prosecutors at Fort Hood have similarly remained silent and unresponsive to Hasan Defense Team discovery demands.  Virtually no additional pretrial discovery disclosures have been made since the “midnight dump” that was made shortly before the initial Article 32 session.  Defense requests for reinstatement of security clearances and disclosure of classified information remain unanswered. 

However viewed, US Army prosecutors and the Obama Administration remain fully engaged in ‘hide the ball’ tactics and represent a historical low-point in military justice matters.

DOD and DOJ – Still Stiffing the Senate

As of close of business today, neither the Department of Defense nor the Department of Justice have  responded to the Senate subpoenas requesting relevant information in the Hasan case.  

This should be no surprise because  senior officials in this Administration have been hiding this important  evidence for many months now.  

Hopefully, senior Senators Lieberman and Collins will not buckle under Administration pressure to hide the ball and prevent open disclosure in this important case.

Unlawful Pretrial Punishment Continues

Major Hasan has filed a grievance with Bell County Jail Officials, properly complaining that jail infirmary personnel were observed using the personal sink in the cell to clean his removable toilet bucket.   Military Police liaison personnel at Fort Hood have been requested to investigate the complaint and to take immediate steps to ensure that these improper and unsanitary procedures are prohibited.

Will Senators Lieberman & Collins Stand Up For Full Disclosure?

The American public anxiously awaits the decision of senior Senators Lieberman and Collins who earlier threatened to initiate contempt proceedings if Secretary of Defense Gates and Attorney General Holder did not disclose important information earlier subpoenaed.  These respected Senators imposed a deadline of 2 June, 1030 hours. However, there have been no public announcements as to whether or not DOD and DOJ will continue in open defiance of the subpoenas or whether the good Senators will hold true to their threatened contempt proceedings. 

Contrary to any assertion that the Administration is transparent on this important issue,   readers are reminded to remember Secretary Gate’s earlier stated objective – ” We have no interest in hiding anything, but what’s most important is this prosecution.”  

Okay, so we know that Sec Def wants to help the prosecution.  But where does that leave us with respect to his position regarding proper pretrial disclosure, due process, and a fair trial?  

Hopefully, Senators Lieberman and Collins will not buckle under tremendous Administration pressure to prevent disclosure of this important evidence.