Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Further Thoughts On The Fort Hood Shooting

Yesterday’s post regarding the Fort Hood shootings is pulling in a very large amount of traffic and a moderate amount of email.

Reading the email, I see I need to clarify a few things I said yesterday – or rather didn’t say.


There are two possibilities here:

Major Hasan is nuts, or he’s not.


If he’s nuts, in the legal sense, and his lawyer can prove it in court – then he should be locked away with the rest of the crazy dangerous people. My sympathy towards him extends to the degree that I have for any other broken human being, tempered by the fact that Hansan was a mental health professional and should have done more to ensure his own mental health – which is part and parcel of the mental health field. All therapists are supposed to have therapists of their own.

If he’s not nuts, there are two possibilities: his religious beliefs were the primary motivator, or they weren’t.  

If Hasan’s religious convictions were not his primary motivation, then he is a simple mass murderer and should face whatever punishment he’s got coming to him.  I have no compassion or sympathy towards him whatsoever.

If his religion was his primary motivation, if sympathy for the enemy was his primary motivation, then Hasan is guilty of treason against the United States of America, a country he swore to protect and defend and to whom he gave his solemn oath with his right hand upraised before his God. If Hasan is a traitor – and it appears very likely that he is – then he should face the fate of all traitors with his back against The Wall. Fuck him and the horse he rode in on, and I’ll pull the trigger myself if they’re looking for volunteers.


Something to note here, if Hasan is indeed a traitor, there are no mitigating circumstances.  His family has mentioned possible religious persecution. That’s crap. Hansan was a Major, an O-4.  He knew damned well the Army’s stance on such things, i.e. zero tolerance, and he damned well knew what his options were, anything from filing an EEO compliant regarding a hostile workplace to writing his Congressman.  Hasan’s professed reluctance to deploy into a warzone and fight against members of his own religion is also crap.  He is a commissioned officer, sworn to obey the orders of the President and the Officers appointed over him. Period. If he was unable to execute those orders, he should never have sworn the oath. He should never have accepted his recent promotion, which carries with it “the obligation to faithfully discharge the duties of the office.”  If he truly could not execute his orders due to a moral objection, he had plenty of options, none of which involved treason. 

Hasan’s actions are his, and his alone, using this situation to condemn all Muslims is wrong.


  1. We will simply have to wait and see.

  2. apart from insanity, it's treason in my book.

  3. As a prior USN O-04, I must say that the man in question would've had ample opportunity to get out of the service if he felt so strongly about it. His initial obligation would've been completed (even for a physician). He made the willful choice to remain on active duty.

    In addition to that, there were other officers who heard him speak of his ongoing issues. Why were they silent? If ANY branch of the Service has such an atmosphere that people are afraid to speak out just because they're afraid of being labelled racist/religionist (and thereby ending their career), they need to seriously rethink their attitudes.

  4. I (unsurprisingly) agree with the Sergeant on this one.

  5. Wine Guy, others did speak out - according to news reports. Hanans was reprimanded and appearred to improve. Additionally his online and verbal comments were investigated a year ago and deemed of minimal concern.

    Obviously, he got worse, but without a crystal ball, or totalitarian invasive law enforcement, I don't know how anybody could have predicted that.

    Note that the accuracy of my comment is entirely dependent on the accuracy of media reports.

  6. Um, sorry. Let me add that I do entirely agree with the gist of Wine Guy's comment.

    Those that witnessed questionable acts by Maj Hanson and didn't speak up out of fear or an over-inflated sense of political correctness should seriously reassess their lack of moral courage.

  7. Insane or not, treasonous or not, I'd rather not see him executed, but then again, I don't support the death penalty.

    Lock him up for life without the possibility of parole? I'm absolutely in favor of that. Since I can imagine other inmates would show him no mercy (especially if he ends up in a military prison, I would think, though I have no knowledge of military prisons), that would satisfy my revenge fantasies just fine.

    (Disclosure: I often think that death is too good for the likes of some people. Should it prove to be treason and not the act of a broken human being, Hasan would be one of those people.)

  8. Carol Elaine, hoping someone else "takes care" of Hasan in prison while simultaneously claiming not to support the death penalty reminds me of the old canard about the butcher.

    Or perhaps I misunderstood you comment...

  9. Janiece, I have to admit I'm not familiar with the old canard about the butcher.

    My main problem with the death penalty is that I don't support government sanctioned murder. The only time that I would support government sanctioned murder - or any kind of killing - is in the case of demonstrable self-defense (which is why, though I hate war, I understand the occasional need for it).

    I understand the desire for revenge. I feel it myself. But I don't think the government should be part of the revenge business. Punishment, yes. Lock him up and throw away the key. But I see capital punishment as revenge. Nothing more, nothing less.

    As for hoping Hasan's fellow inmates would "take care" of him, well, I don't hope that he's killed in prison. If it were to happen, I wouldn't mourn for him, but it's not an active hope of mine. Rather, there is a part of me that hopes he lives a very long, incarcerated life that is made miserable, if it is proven that his actions were the result of treason and not insanity. I fully admit that's my desire for revenge talking.

    (If Hasan is actually insane, then he definitely needs help and I hope that he gets it. While being locked away with the rest of the crazy dangerous people [to quote Jim].)

    Those two warring factions are ones I struggle with regularly. While I may be a neo-hippie peacenik, in some ways I am also a deeply angry person.

  10. i oppose the death penalty as well, but if you want a job done right, do it yourself, i personally would take great pleasure in caring out his sentence, however, until our prison system is reformed to make it less of a resort and more of hard time i am perfectly fine with the death penalty in certian cases.

  11. According to what I heard on NPR today he was committed for several more years because the military had paid for all his schooling. I think I heard 2017. Is it still possible to get out if you owe for that much education?

    As far as the death penalty, I've been getting more and more queasy about it as the wrongful convictions stack up, but in this case, I'd say "caught in the act" applies. There are some people who just don't deserve another chance.

    On the role call of the fallen today, how did they choose the soldiers to call on who were present?

  12. Jim, I think that's a fair summary, although let me join those who are opposed to the death penalty (state sanctioned or carried out by a vengeful prisoner); even if the Major was completely in control of his acts and premeditated acts of treason and homicide, I'm not going to support a capital sentence even if it's legally sanctioned.

    But the real reason I'm chiming in is to tangle things a bit more, I'm afraid. You say, "If he’s nuts, in the legal sense, and his lawyer can prove it in court...'; I'm not sure which standard the military uses for NGRI (not guilty by reason of insanity), although I assume they use the same standard embodied in Federal law, which hearkens back to the M'Naughten Rule used in most states (the other leading standard in this country being the Durham Rule). I don't want to get all technical here, so I'll get to the point which is: it's perfectly possible for somebody to meet psychiatric standards for mental illness without satisfying the legal standards for NGRI. Indeed, I've personally had far too many clients who were "crazy, but the wrong kind of crazy." One can be profoundly mentally ill and able to tell right from wrong; indeed, it's possible for somebody to be able to understand the nature of their act and to tell right from wrong (basically what is involved in M'Naughten and Federal law as a standard) and nonetheless be unable to comply with those dictates because of the mental illness (this led to the now out-of-vogue Durham Rule, which asks if the defendant was under an "irresistible impulse").

    Consider, by way of an example, Mr. David Berkowitz, the "Son Of Sam"; Mr. Berkowitz appears to have been reasonably aware that killing people is wrong and fatal, and therefore would have failed to meet the criteria for an insanity verdict had he gone to trial (instead of accepting a plea that guaranteed him life in prison instead of death). And yet: Mr. Berkowitz evidently shot people because he believed his dog was telling him to and that Satan would do bad things to him if he didn't; I don't think there's much argument that Mr. Berkowitz is and was off his proverbial rocker. Clinically insane, yes. Legally insane, no.

    You probably can see where I'm going with this: whether or not he's nuts in the legal sense shouldn't necessarily determine what we do with him or how we feel about it if he is, in fact, nuts in a scientific or clinical sense. (Note that even legally, if he doesn't meet the criteria for NGRI, his mental state might be relevant to mitigation or clemency at some stage.)

    This shouldn't be interpreted as saying he should be off the hook, either: if he's incompetent to proceed to trial or NGRI, he should be institutionalized. If he's the "wrong" kind of crazy, he may end up in prison with all the other people who are also the "wrong" kind of crazy, which may be more appropriate than releasing him, although it is a sort of tragedy that our civilization still hasn't sorted out a better way to handle sick people who do bad things.

    That, anyway, would be a civilian bleeding-heart criminal defense lawyer's perspective, for whatever it happens to be worth.

  13. P.S.

    Oh: and of course this all is assuming what seems obvious but hasn't been proven in a court yet--that the Major is indeed the shooter. Part of me wants to leave that out, since things seem obvious, but then there's the professional part that urges a certain kind of procedural restraint. I'm sure you understand.

  14. The distinction between murder and the moral concept of slaying is of great importance in the military. Whatever your feelings about the death penalty in civilian life, the death penalty is justified in the military.

    People may prefer life in jail to possible death in combat. The saying of combatants guilty of crimes in the war zone a generation ago "what are they going to do to me, send me to Viet Nam?" is the crudest way to express that an organization that sends people into the threat of imminent death needs a way to ensure death in the case of cowardice or treason.

  15. John, the problem with your example is that Vietnam was not fought by an all volunteer army, so I would lay doubt as to whether that would be applicable in the case of the modern army.

    Now if we bring back the draft, that might strengthen your case in one manner, yet in another--not so much.

    Those who know me already know my feeling on the death penalty--I do not believe it is ethical under any circumstances, but like Eric, I'm a pacifist, though unlike Eric, I'm pro-life across the board.

    As far as his mental state, regardless of what it is, he should remain segregated from the rest of humanity for the remainder of his life. Some actions are beyond the pale.

    This qualifies.

  16. I've gone from being one who opposed the death penalty out of moral conviction to being one who opposes it mostly because I think the civilian version of the justice system gets things wrong all too many times.

    I may be way off base, but I think the Military system of justice is more likely to get things right. (Yes, I know of cases in the past that hinged on the prejudices of the court, but I'd like to think things have improved on that count.)

    Murder is a horrible crime in either the civilian or military arena, but when treason is added to the mix, I just have to believe the crime has risen to another level. If treason is proved, I think anything less than a death sentence is just unthinkable. I think of treason as the "attempted murder of our entire system of government". A firing squad is entirely appropriate.

    If that all sounded disjointed, I apologize. 16-hour day to blame. (If I shoot my boss in the morning, it'll be justifiable homicide.)

  17. Stuart, you can always get out - if you really want to. There are many legal avenues. Any decent military specialty lawyer could have gotten him out of the service, even if he had to pay back his education. Supposedly Hasan had been "trying to get out" since 2001. Bull.

    Hell, if he really wanted out - and I mean to the point where he was willing to commit murder - all he had to do was go smoke a doobie. Hell, all he really had to do was tell somebody he was gay. Neither route has any really serious consequences - other than an admin discharge and that beats the fuck out of the death penalty.

    He could have filed for conscientious objector status - and stood a good chance of being granted it on religious grounds, and still stayed in the Army and provided rear echelon support if his real objection was deployment and fighting Muslims.

    Hasan had many routes open to him over the last eight years.

    Eric, thanks for the insight. It will be interesting to see how it plays out. I suspect that if his lawyer (a former military Judge and an expert in military legal matters) attempts such a defense - I strongly suspect that he won't.

    There is definitely something to what JTS says, but seriously here folks - kill 13 American soldiers, wound 30 some more, as a Muslim, in Texas. Really I have no idea what defense other than suicide would keep you out of the Chair at this point.

    Note: It is a mark of the professionalism of the US Army that Hasan ever came off that respirator alive.

    As to the death penalty: I have no moral qualms about it. I don't believe human life is all that
    "sacred" or divine (well, except for mine and that of my family, and friends, and the people I know, and ... well, ok, but still). I believe we're better off without certain folks sucking up air. I don't object to the government doing it either, it is the government's job to protect the citizens.

    HOWEVER I do have strong ethical and constitutional opposition to the death penalty as it is imposed haphazardly in the US. I object to the death penalty as revenge. I object to decades on death row. I object to certain folks being far more likely to get the death penalty than others. I object to how people get there in the first place, and the fact that a significant fraction have lately been found not guilty of the crime they were sentenced to die for.

    I believe that the death penalty should only be imposed in cases where the evidence is absolutely 100% crystal clear without question by all means currently available. I don't believe anybody should go to the chair without ironclad DNA evidence, for example. Video. etc. I believe standard criteria for the death penalty should be uniform across the Union. I strongly advocate for a federal law that requires all on death row right now to have all the evidence retested using modern means, including and especially DNA evidence.

    And I believe the Death Penalty should only be imposed for the most heinous of crimes: Hasan's for example - as Nathan just outlined and precisely those reasons.

    If they ever catch bin Ladin alive...

    But, understand something, Hasan will die. Put him in a mental institution and see if he doesn't suicide. Put him in a military prison, he won't last a week outside of isolation. Put him in a federal prison, and he'll maybe make it a month, isolation or no - and whoever takes him down will be regarded as a hero by many Americans. I can see the comments under the news articles already, "they ought give him a medal!"

    What are the other options? Gitmo? For life?

    Not my decision. And I'm glad of that.

  18. What are the other options? Isolation. For life. No contact with other prisoners, ever. No contact with anyone other than his guards, ever.

  19. Obviously, he got worse, but without a crystal ball, or totalitarian invasive law enforcement, I don't know how anybody could have predicted that.

    I heard Limbaugh today huffing and puffing that "they" should have connected the dots and predicted that Hasan would go off. If we want any sense of privacy - any right of privacy - those gateways that protect the flow of information are critical and cannot be removed, even in hindsight.

    The mainstream media isn't any better.


  20. Connecting the dots is so much easier after the fact, as only an intel guy can tell you, Cassie ;)

    If only we'd had someone as good at it as Rush before we went into Iraq...


    Michelle, how is that more humane than just shooting him? How is that more moral?

    You are suggesting that we bring back France's Chateau d'If, aren't you? You do realize what will happen to any human subjected to endless and complete isolation? He will go completely mad in fairly short order, if he's not already insane - however Eric defines it. He'll have to be restrained or drugged or both to prevent him from hurting himself. We will drive him insane and leave him to his madness for the rest of his life in isolation - how is that more moral? Or just? How is that not torture for revenge sake?

    Believe me, I do understand your dilemma, morally. You're pro-life - in the pro all life sense. You're opposed to violence, or an eye for an eye. Admirable traits and I respect you for it.

    But it leaves you in a bind, morally. Because, other than death, what punishment fits his crime? What punishment fits bin Laden's crime? Or Hilter's. Whatever you do to him either results in death, or is worse than death - or essentially you end up protecting him from himself and others forever, and at what cost to those he so horribly wronged?

    There comes a time, ethically, Michelle, where a man must shoot his own dog.

  21. Humane? I sometimes wonder if most of humanity even gets what the word means. (That was NOT directed at you, just to clarify.)

    Regarding the criminal justice system, we're damned if we do, damned if we don't. Taking a broader perspective for just a moment, the American criminal justice system has little interest in rehabilitation, but instead focuses almost entirely upon vengeance and retribution.

    I have major problems with this.

    How does taking one life even out the loss of another life, or thirteen other lives, or a hundred other lives? It doesn't and it can't.

    Furthermore, how can we say that some deaths are worth vengeance and others are not?

    This asshole killed 13 people, for we know not what reasons. Most people agree that for this he deserves punishment. I have no argument with that.

    However, in the US, how you kill someone determines how--and if--you'll be punished for the crime.

    Corporate executives sit down, coldly calculate the worth of a human life, and then 180 people are dead because these executives decided that making a profit is more important than the safety and lives of the consumers using their equipment.

    How is that not worse than pulling a gun and shooting someone? How is it that in the US, the motive pf profit will allow you to take lives without ever having to face retribution?

    (In case it wasn't clear, I'm referring to the Ford Pinto.)

    We live in a country where the bottom line is seen as an acceptable justification for ignoring threats to health and life.

    Another example. In Iraq up to 500 soldiers were knowingly exposed sodium dichromate, and were lied to by KBR about the danger of the chemical to which they were being exposed. 500 people exposed to a deadly carcinogen.

    Yet not only are the individuals who made these decisions not up for the death penalty--they aren't even facing prison time.

    (And of course there's agent orange to consider as well.)

    Violence I can comprehend. Acting in a rage I can comprehend. That's not to say that such actions are justifiable, only that they are something I can understand.

    But cold blooded calculations of the worth of a human life? That I cannot understand, and I cannot understand why we will lock the perpetrator of a crime of passion up for the rest of their life, while corporate murderers get a golden parachute and a life of luxury.

    So it's far more than the ethics of the government taking a life in retribution for the death of another. It's the sheer immorality of deciding what crimes are worthy of death and what crimes are not even considered crimes.

    Going back to the larger issue of the death penalty, one life for another is never going to balance the books. I'd rather see those who commit crimes spend their lives stamping license plates or sorting trash or working in waste facilities and pulling tampons out of sewage than being killed.

    Those who commit crimes owe a debt to society, and I do not see how their deaths can in any way pay back that debt.

  22. (Michelle to say that he somehow owes us something, implies that the lives he took have quantifiable value, similar in outlook to the those corporate executives you called out - though I understand that's not what you meant) (and I agree with you about the corporate executives BTW). Frankly I don't think Hasan can ever pay back what he owes the men and women he killed, or their families, or the US Army, or the United States.

    And I'm not really interested in seeing him try - even if he should ever be so inclined. As I said, if he's sane (as Eric defined it), he's a traitor. He's not just any citizen, but a sworn officer of the US Army. More than that, he is a doctor. He violated both his oath as physician and as an officer in the most egregious way possible. He betrayed his calling, his men, and his country - and his religion for that matter. He is a despicable excuse for a human being. I don't place much stock in the concept of "evil" but his actions come damned close.

    I see Hasan, and his ilk, as feral dogs. You may love animals, but if you have a pack of rabid ferals prowling your neighborhood sooner or later you're going to have to pull a trigger or suffer the consequences.

    Now, with that said - I don't believe the conditions I outlined above for the death penalty can be met in the United States, and therefor the death penalty should be suspended indefinitely.

  23. All this talk of the death penalty for someone so cowardly as to attempt to kill more people in an auditorium. Soldier or not, treason or not, death is a relief for a mind so twisted as Hasans. Give him the needle, the bullet, the chair whatever, to do as the death penalty is intended to do in cases of such premeditated murder, treasonous acts. Deter it from happening again. By the way did anyone else notice today that the DC shooter was executed? Similar scenario in that none of his victims saw it coming either.

  24. Jim this argument doesn't quite float... he could easily be both nuts and motivated by radical Islam. I expect that description could have been applied to all of the 19 9/11 hijackers.

    It's a bit scary how quickly the discussion degenerates into the legitimacy of the death penalty. That's pretty trivial compared to the real issues: how has radical Islam penetrated and subverted our national institutions, including the mainstream media and the US Army, to the point they can do whatever they want and our public institutions will cover up for terrorism?

    The American people seem to get it, despite the public disclaimers of our so-called leaders. This disconnect is way more important than whether it's OK to execute mass murderers.

  25. Actually, I'm not sure I did offer a definition of "sane"; what I tried to offer was more of a perspective on how lacking the legal definitions of sanity really are. It is certainly possible that Hasan is utterly insane but not the right kind of insane to qualify him for a legal insanity defense. And it raises another issue that I actually hadn't thought of until just now: does treason (as a criminal offense) require any sort of specific intent?

    Nor am I convinced, as Nathan seems to be, that a military court is more likely "to get it right." The USMCJ specifically doesn't include some rights a civilian in a civilian court has, and with good reason: whereas the civilian court is (hopefully) more interested in justice, a military court must also address issues like discipline that have no place or parallel in the civilian system. That Hasan might get a fairer trial from a military tribunal than a Texan court might be true, but it's also damning military tribunals with faint praise indeed.

    John's comment, meanwhile, is based on a logical fallacy. There might, as he says, be a difference between "killing" and "slaying"--that's a doorway to a far larger and less soluble discussion of morals and ethics. But there's no way you can get from an analysis of what a person does on a battlefield to what's a proper outcome in a civilized courtroom. If the death penalty is valid, it has nothing to do with a philosophical "difference" between "killing" and "slaying." And if one believes that the death penalty is categorically wrong, it's frankly difficult to carve out an exception for the different values of a military tribunal; it's not impossible--one might frame an argument that death is a necessary form of discipline or somehow beneficial to morale, however such arguments tend to cheapen the lives of soldiers (versus civilians) in a rather crass and heavy-handed way.

    Nor do the defendant's preferences enter into it, whether in civilian cases or in military. People might prefer life in jail to death in combat, or probation to life in jail, or a stern "Don't do that again!" to probation. Convicted defendants, whether they're in civilian life or the military, don't generally get to decide their own punishments. And I'm far less concerned about the wishes of convicted murderers than I am about what their disposition says about the rest of us and whether my conduct or my proxies' conduct is moral. If it is wrong for my civilization to kill a murderer, I'm really not bothered by the fact that he may, incidental to that, enjoy or hate living.

    As for John's statement about Vietnam and the needs of the military: I'm afraid I don't understand. The sentiment, I believe, was that Vietnam was widely considered a death sentence, hence the lack of fear for actual death sentences. Beyond that, John's statement is a bit conclusory: death is either an appropriate punishment for certain violations of the UCMJ or it isn't, and the only thing the military needs is a way to enforce the UCMJ either way.

    There sometimes seems to be an understandable confusion about this last point: hence talk about whether someone is "despicable" or deserves to live. At some point, what a murderer deserves or what sort of person he is doesn't enter into it, or at least takes a back seat to what kind of people all the rest of us are. Are we killers or are we a merciful culture? How much do we value life? To say that Hasan shouldn't receive the death penalty is not to make a comment about his worthiness or deserts; if he shouldn't receive the death penalty, it is because we shouldn't kill him, regardless of what he deserves; indeed, to treat him better than he deserves might even be a sign of wisdom or compassion.

  26. If the death penalty is valid, it has nothing to do with a philosophical "difference" between "killing" and "slaying."

    Eric, I specifically used the term murder, as killing generally does not have the same moral connotations. The argument here was state sancitoned murder and I take exception to the use of the term murder because I view execution as a slaying, i.e. morally justified. Your use of the term killing is more appropriate in this context, but not what I was objecting to.

    And the difference between justifiable and justifiable homicide is exactly the point of the argument. You take the position that no homicide is justifiable.

    You are able to maintain that position because other people in this society are willing to use force, and even to kill, on your behalf.

    At some point, mercy becomes enabling of criminal behavior.

    The sentiment, I believe, was that Vietnam was widely considered a death sentence, hence the lack of fear for actual death sentences. Beyond that, John's statement is a bit conclusory: death is either an appropriate punishment for certain violations of the UCMJ or it isn't, and the only thing the military needs is a way to enforce the UCMJ either way.

    No, the issue is that wherever you draw a line, there are human predators willing to cross that line with just enough force to cow the enforcers. The point is that in an arena where people are consistently asked to face death, desertion or other treason starts to look good unless the prospect of death is held as a consequence of cowardace. By not holding that option open, you are cheapening the lives of the men and women who do give their lives. To some degree, you chose to value the life of the traitor above the life of the honorable soldier.

    . At some point, what a murderer deserves or what sort of person he is doesn't enter into it, or at least takes a back seat to what kind of people all the rest of us are. Are we killers or are we a merciful culture?

    Merciful culture? Military? Are you serious?

    This is exactly why I mentioned the death penalty in terms of the military and not civilian life, though I agree with other commenters that my argument against it in civilian life has to do with the poor ability of the courts to arrive at the truth.

  27. CW,

    May I say that your post got me thinking? Now I'm concerned.

    What do you propose we do about the infiltration of radical Islam into our "national institutions, including the mainstream media and the US Army"?

    I would hazard a guess that the first step would be to identify the fifth columnists, right? Would you suggest we do it by last name (e.g., Hasan, Mohammed, etc.) or perhaps by skin color? Of course, anybody who practices religion at a mosque is automatically a candidate for radical Islam, so we need to make a list of all those people and then investigate them.

    Maybe we should monitor people in those national institutions you mentioned more closely, because it's possible that a white person with an innocuous last name might be a secret radical Islamicist, right? Let's agree to give the FBI the power to monitor all communications used by the mainstream media, and maybe to review bank records to check for secret payments. Also, we would want to give the FBI more manpower to do stakeouts and such, right?

    Second, when we identify these people, we need to put them somewhere. Prisons are overcrowded and we don't want them corrupting the other prisoners, so we need to construct large prisons just for housing these people. Which is a good thing, because that would put people back to work. Economic stimulus!

    But it's not enough to put just the individuals in these prisons, because they probably have families just as corrupt as they are, so we need to make sure the prisons can house families, and include children, because it would be unamerican to separate children from their parents.

    As an interim measure, we could convert (on a temporary basis) sports arenas and stadiums. Where I live, Santa Anita Park (horseracing) would be perfect because it already has some housing for the staff that takes care of the horses.

    For the longer term, we should build our prisons in remote areas, to make it harder for the radical Islamicists to escape. North of Santa Anita is Manzanar, which is in the remote hills near the Mojave desert. It gets as hot at 100 degrees (F) in the summer and as cold as 30 to 40 degrees (F) in the winter, with high winds. No coddling there, let me tell you!

    So now that we've identified our suspects and interned them, all we have left to do is win the war(s)!

    Thanks, CW, for making me think this through.

  28. And the difference between justifiable and justifiable homicide is exactly the point of the argument. You take the position that no homicide is justifiable.

    You are able to maintain that position because other people in this society are willing to use force, and even to kill, on your behalf.

    Oh! I'll take this one! :)

    Although I am a pacifist, I do differentiate between killing in self-defense and other types of killing. I may personally choose otherwise, but taking another life in self-defense is always justified.

    And willingness to take force to protect the innocent is not the same as willingness to take a life outside the bounds of self-defense.

    I have no issue with paying police officers and soldiers to protect the innocent and even the not-so-innocent. In fact, I believe that we need to pay and treat these individuals far better than we do, and don't understand why as a society we are not willing to make financial sacrifices for those who are willing to place their own lives for our safety and security.

    Thus we look at your statement that "no homicide is ever justifiable."

    Assuming that we are looking at killing outside the bounds of self-defense (and for this argument, we will assume that a just war falls under the purview of self-defense. No, we will not discuss what a "just war" is here.) the I agree with that statement. No homicide--or death outside of self-defense--is justified.

    Going back to Jim's rabid dog analogy, there is a huge difference between rabid dogs roaming your neighborhood and a murderer who is confined by society.

    If the dogs are roaming free and causing harm, then taking them out most certainly qualifies as self-defense.

    However, when you have a rabid dog that is captured, it is still in the best interests of society to put the animal down, because the disease of rabies actually causes suffering in the animal, and as we cannot explain to dogs why they are suffering, it is our responsibility to end their suffering--we must be compassionate to a creature that is suffering from a disease.

    So that makes your rabies analogy not so great, because the creatures are acting in response to a physical malady. What about "killer dogs" that are not suffering a physical malady such as rabies?

    Did you know that the Michael Vick's dogs were not put down, but instead have been rehabilitated? Some went into rescue homes, but others will never be able to do so, yet these dogs--in a safe environment (for them, not for the humans) are affectionate creatures who do not attack on a whim.

    Of course dogs are not like humans. Dogs are not rational, logical creatures that humans are, which means they do not--like humans-- have the capacity for evil.

    And swinging back around the barn--you are correct in that there is absolutely nothing this murderer--or any murderer--can do to pay back the harm he has caused. The life of a human cannot be calculated in dollars and cents (even if the courts try to do so.)

    But--to me--that means that such a life can also not be paid back by the taking of another life. The death of one murder is in no ways compensation for the loss of thirteen people--or 280 people--or a million people.

    Those scales cannot be balanced.

    So why do we attempt to balance the scales with another death--a negative if you will--instead of with a positive, by forcing those individuals to contribute something--anything--to the society they damaged?

  29. I'm still going with "suicide by cop" (it's the only think that makes the jigsaw puzzle pieces fit). In that case, putting Hasan to death is exactly the point of his act.

    As an act of "terrorism", sorry can't by that. One, if it is, it was exceedingly ineffective. As a mental health professional, one who studied terrorism of terrorists (as we've been lead to assume from the FBI/CIA leaks on his "ties" to radical islamists), someone who holds an advanced degree in psychology (and besides politics, terrorism is all about the psychology), I think he could have come up with something better. Even in a deranged state.

  30. You are able to maintain that position because other people in this society are willing to use force, and even to kill, on your behalf.

    John, that's a load of offensive, presumptuous horseshit and I am so offended by your repetition of this uptight militaristic bullshit canard that I can hardly see straight. I'm finished here because I can't say more without risking our friendship, however strange and tenuous it may be.

  31. Nick, your comments made me choke on my Pepsi One. Hee.

    I'm afraid risking the likes of the "Hasans" of the world are the price we pay for a free society. I'm willing to pay. Evidently some others are not.

    On the other issues up in the air...I am DEEPLY ambivalent about the death penalty for a variety of reasons, but in this case I have to agree with the opinion that this is a capital case. There seems to be little doubt that Hasan did the deed (my primary concern), and applying the death penalty seems the best choice in these circumstances, none of them having to do with revenge.

  32. Thanks Janiece,

    A bit of historical trivia, courtesy of Wikipedia:

    Under the leadership of Doc Strub, Santa Anita initiated many innovations that are standard in today's thoroughbred horse racing such as the use of starting gates and photo finishes for every race. It is interesting to note that the implementation of photo finishes at Santa Anita actually recorded an increase in dead heats. Santa Anita was so succesful that in its first year under Doc Strub's leadership, it paid its investors a 100% dividend on their investment.

    In 1940, Seabiscuit won the Santa Anita Handicap in his last start. Two years later, in 1942, racing at Santa Anita was suspended due to the Second World War. From 1942 to 1944, Santa Anita was used as a Japanese American internment center. After the track reopened in 1945, it went through the postwar years with prosperity. A downhill turf course, which added a distinctly European flair to racing at Santa Anita, was added in 1953.

    Many people living in Pasadena, Arcadia, and Santa Anita do not realize the colorful history of their racetrack.

  33. Jim this argument doesn't quite float... he could easily be both nuts and motivated by radical Islam. I expect that description could have been applied to all of the 19 9/11 hijackers.

    CW, when I said "nuts" I assumed people would understand that I was speaking of the legal definition, as Eric described - as in not guilty by reason of insanity. I should probably have been most specific.

    It's a bit scary how quickly the discussion degenerates into the legitimacy of the death penalty. That's pretty trivial compared to the real issues: how has radical Islam penetrated and subverted our national institutions, including the mainstream media and the US Army, to the point they can do whatever they want and our public institutions will cover up for terrorism?

    CW, since I specifically mentioned putting him up against the wall in the original post, I think it's perfectly acceptable for people to discuss the death penalty in the comments section.

    I'm going to avoid my first response when I read the rest of the paragraph, and give you a chance to justify your statement. Please do so.

    The American people seem to get it, despite the public disclaimers of our so-called leaders. This disconnect is way more important than whether it's OK to execute mass murderers.

    Again, I'll give you a chance to justify that statement, the "so-called" leaders remark which I assume means everybody from the president to the Chief of Staff of the Army to people like me.

    Frankly, CW, if it had been anybody else who had made the above statements, I'd have ripped them apart by now. You sound like Rush or Beck, and that's not a compliment BTW. Please, provide supporting data for those statements.

  34. And willingness to take force to protect the innocent is not the same as willingness to take a life outside the bounds of self-defense.

    Michelle, you assume that potential for harm has been neutralized once the offender is incarcerated. This is wrong, and needs to be included in your moral calculus.

    I got my black belt from a karate school that was populated largely with prison guards and cops. I saw those guys come in hurt all the time from dealing with thugs, and this was a medium security prison, not a maximum one. As Jim already pointed out, you forget the practical aspects of incarceration in your mental models.

    In making pacifism your guiding principle in dealing with highly violent offenders, you are condemning real people to live with the risk of injury or even death so that you can have a clean conscience. We do not guard prisoners with robots.

    This isn't even talking about the risk of the offender snookering a parole board or escaping to offend again in the wider community. Those are also real risks that need to be included in any moral calculus.

    Now there is a sliding scale of motive and risk of re-offense, and I don't expect all murder cases to be capital ones. And of the all ones as egregious as this one should be, however. None of my friends should have to risk life and limb to guard people like that.

    And no, killing the murderer won't bring the life back. But by the same rationale, there is nothing the murderer can do that will make adequate restitution, either.

  35. John, I find it hard to believe that you are using the failure of the US prison system as grounds for capital punishment.

    There are proven programs that reduce recidivism increase rehabilitation, that the US refuses to use because they are more expensive, and because we prefer to focus upon vengeance rather than rehabilitation.

    The fact that we have created prisons that are dangerous for both the prisoners and the guards--places with a culture of violence and where one can learn to become a better criminal is a TERRIBLE reason to advocate for the death penalty.

    As far as this statement: In making pacifism your guiding principle in dealing with highly violent offenders All I can say is, where the hell did you pull that from? I have never said anything even remotely like that.

    As a matter of fact, I was quite explicit in saying that pacifism is a personal choice for me. I also was quite explicit in my support of those who must use force to protect the innocent.

    And as I said first, claiming that we need the death penalty because prisons are dangerous places... well that is an extremely disturbing statement and one that I hope you didn't mean.

  36. This is a good discussion - clearly I stirred up some strong feelings with the comment about Islamic penetration of our national institutions. Unfortunately I'm not kidding and I'm referring to very specific circumstances. It's a very complicated story so I'll try to get into it more on my own blog, but I'm talking about how the Saudis have very specifically and deliberately used money to buy influence in Washington while at the same time using that same money to advance the most radical, most violent, most intolerant version of Islam worldwide. Look at the relationships of Abdulrahman Alamoudi and Bilal Philips - their influence in the US military, and who paid their salaries. Try Googling the financial interests of Mohammed Alamoudi, or Salah Kamel, or Khalid bin Mahfouz (RIP), or Walid bin Talal, etc etc etc. What you will find is that all those guys (a) have lots and lots of US officials in their pockets, and (b) are the main sponsors of the global jihad against western civilization.

    Also: sorry for the distraction about the death penalty. I think I'd tend towards keeping Hasan alive so we could get as much information as possible to understand what happened and how to prevent it in the future.

  37. Oh I forgot: some of the best sources to get an understanding of the nature of the AQ network in CONUS and how it is related and connected to the Saudi-sponsored network of Mosques and NGOs are the footnotes to the 9/11 Commission Report. There is a wealth of information there that has never been reconciled.

  38. CW, Jim obviously knows you and I'll let him decide if and how he might respond to your--shall we say?--contoversial posts. Not my place and it would be rude on my part.

    Taking you at your word, I did google one of your names and this is what I found.

    Retraction by counterpunch.org

    August 17, 2005


    We published an article entitled "A Saudiless Arabia" by Wayne Madsen dated October 22, 2002 (the "Article"), on the website of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalistic Clarity, CounterPunch, www.counterpunch.org (the "Website").

    Although it was not our intention, counsel for Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi has advised us the Article suggests, or could be read as suggesting, that Mr Al Amoudi has funded, supported, or is in some way associated with, the terrorist activities of Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda terrorist network.

    We do not have any evidence connecting Mr Al Amoudi with terrorism.

    As a result of an exchange of communications with Mr Al Amoudi's lawyers, we have removed the Article from the Website.

    We are pleased to clarify the position.

    Obviously I didn't see what you led me to believe I would see. 'Nuff said.

  39. That's doesn't surprise me at all, Nick.

  40. Mohamed Alamoudi is a notorious "libel tourist", like his former partner Khalid bin Mahfouz. Consequently, people are very careful what they publish about him.

    But follow the money: look at Muwafaq, Blessed Relief, IIRO, Benevolence International, IIIT, etc. Where did they get their money? And where did it go? Look at the Capital Trust Bank (and its predecessors, the National Commercial Bank (NCB) and the Bank of Credit and Commerce Internation (BCCI).

    Also look into the relationship between convicted AQ financier Abdulrahman Alamoudi and Mohamed Alamoudi, particularly related to the charities, Muwafaq, Blessed Relief, etc.

    If you only looked at one link where Alexander Cockburn was forced by Alamoudi's lawyer to retract and article by Wayne Madsen, you haven't really scratched the surface.

    Here's one link, from Matt Leavitt, who is one of the most credible experts on this subject:


  41. Zero tolerance for harassment? There's zero tolerance for rape, too, and it still happens frequently.

  42. That's a strawman, mjlayman. Hasan had options, many options, none of which involved the murder of his fellow soldiers or treason against the United States.

    CW, I'm not buying it. Frankly, at this point I'm a hell of a lot more worried about the large number of evangelical Christians in the schools, government, and military who are hell bent on perverting history and science and the Constitution, and on converting me to their way of life.

  43. Michelle, the current sad state of the American Prison system (or lack thereof) has nothing to do with the fact that the Platonic Ideal Prison you posit - where the most violent offenders pose no danger to their jailors or of escape - does not and will not exist. It will not exist until the prison system is completely automated.

    As for recidicvism, I'll go along with you and agree that we should do a lot more to turn minor criminals into upstanding citizens. As it is now, medium security prisons are little more than training camps for thugs. That is a huge waste of resources and human capital. And when they reoffend, it costs even more than rehab would have. We both agree that is insane.

    But here in this case we are talking about the kind of men who gun down 50 of their fellow men, or drive by shooting up a neighborhood to kill a rival gang member and killing children in the process. Unless your recidivism rate is zero, any mercy whatsoever is, in a very statistically certain way, condemning productive and innocent people to suffer more violence in the name of being merciful to someone who has demonstrated the inability to live by civilized rules. These people should never come out of jail. In that respect, your recidivism argument is either a complete non-sequitor or a moral calculus where you have put mercy to an offender with a face over some future victim whom you can't name, but who nevertheless will certainly suffer.

    I freely admit that my desire for vengeance, which is a part of the entire concept of justice, like it or not, colors my views. So if you argue that rape should not warrant the death penalty because it increases the likelihood that the perp will kill the victim, I'm willing to listen. I'm willing to examine the downstream consequences of my moral positions and modify them if you convince me I'm doing more harm than good.

    But invoking Platonic Ideals makes me suspect that your positions are driven in a similar way by your pacifism, and the impossibility of reaching those ideals makes me dismiss your arguments.

    When people arguing from your position admit the downstream consequences, it IS possible to come to a common ground. We can then talk about probabilities. Am I willing to accept a merciful justice system that achieves a 1 in 1000 recidivism rate if the other 999 become useful citizens? Yes. 1 in 100. No. But once again, that's for crimes such armed robbery or physical assault with fists and feet are involved. Once murder or rape comes up, the only acceptable recidivism rate is zero. Flipping that around, how many innocent people are you willing to sacrifice for your mercy?

    Jim, I ain't buying that article, for the same reason. Most people don't calculate the downstream consequences of their positions very well. Offer me a million dollars for the sniper's life and I won't take it. It would be blood money, because I bet that guy has at the very least 1 in 100 of killing someone else in prison. The blood of that person would be one my head if I took that money, and he might be one of those people Michelle is talking about who is turning his life around. Just because other people on my side might put greed over principles doesn't make a moral argument, it's an ad hominem attack.

    Vengeance does have. its place in the judicial system. It all comes down, for me, to what I'd want the justice system to to if my kids were the victim.

  44. Jim, I'm also not buying that conservative Christians pose a greater existential threat than Saudis trying to buy off a niche for terror to thrive so that they can deflect anger at home to easy targets abroad in order to stay in power. The Saudis do move boatloads of money through our system and support the most virulent Salafist nonsense. Do you think it's a coincidneence this happened less than a week after the people Hassan was trying to contact overtly called for such actions?:

    In last week’s global security and intelligence report, we discussed the recent call by the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Nasir al-Wahayshi, for jihadists to conduct simple attacks against a variety of targets in the Muslim world and the West. We also noted how it is relatively simple to conduct such attacks against soft targets using improvised explosive devices, guns or even knives and clubs.

    Do the Conservative Christians pose a greater legislative threat? Certainly. You know very well I wage war against the YEC on my side of the fence for that reason. But existential threats? Let's put it this way. I was in NY on the West Side a few months ago when the a cavalcade of cops cars went by right in front of me - arresting an Islamist terror cell that was plotting there. I was in Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001, I walked as close as I could get before the towers fell, I'm lucky I didn't get down there sooner. And the house where I lived in Tokyo was less than 2 blocks from the Mosque and salafist safe house run by the fucking Saudis where at least 2, possibly 4 of the 911 hijackers stayed on their way to the US. They were there at the very same time I was. I have never been touched in a similar way by an abortion clinic bomber or shooter. Even including the confounder that I have never lived in the Deep South, tell me what's the statistical likelihood that I would be come that close to an existential threat that is less probable than the one you name and never by the greater threat. Possible? Yes. Likely that the Christians are the greater threat and I still have not brushes with that threat and 3 with the Salafist one? Possible, but I've have to be far, far on the left tail of the distribution. I'm not buying it.

    Eric, I would think if nothing else that our experiences on this very site would caution you to advise Nick that a cease and desist order at the very least has nothing to do with veracity, and in my mind makes the charges more likely (YMMV on that last point).

  45. Jim Wright, lots of organizations, including the military, say "zero tolerance," but it's almost impossible to achieve. Most people will follow rules. Some will follow because of the punishment. But some won't follow the rules and once something is done, you can't take it back. Another soldier could be forced to apologize to Hasan, but he likely won't mean it.

  46. John, given that I've had prior experiences trying to follow CW's research and finding that his sources were unverifiable or indeed didn't say what CW claimed--on his Cass Sunstein piece and on a piece he wrote on Somali piracy--I'm not surprised Nick followed a CW link and found a retraction. If I didn't have such prior experiences, I might be more inclined to believe that CW's source in this instance made a retraction because of a libel threat. Unfortunately, there's that saying they might have in Tennessee (I know they have it in Texas) about "Fool me once, shame on, shame on..." you know the rest.

    Furthermore, while libel tourism has resulted in a lot of SLAPP suits ("Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation"), the better policy is not to publish and retract, but to make sure you can publish verifiable claims, truth being an absolute defense. The David Irving lawsuit, for example, was painful and expensive for Deborah Lipstadt and her publishers, but they successfully fought it to the end.

    What's more, a civil lawsuit starts a discovery process; surely if the Counterpunch authors thought they had a leg to stand on, they'd welcome an opportunity to force Al Amoudi to open his books or face sanctions, including a dismissal of his suit with prejudice. Clearly, whether their claims are actually true or not, they are not substantially certain enough of those claims to feel up to a legal game of chicken with Mr. Al Amoudi.

    Speaking of things people might want to take note of: CW might consider that should Mr. Al Amoudi take notice of his claims, Mr. Al Amoudi might be able to obtain service provider records identifying him. I would hope, then, that CW has a stronger basis for his claims than a retracted 2002 article. I absolutely hope, if his claims are true, that he bites the bullet and sees what free speech groups--including left wing ones--might help him raise funds for a defense that would expose Mr. Al Amoudi for what CW claims he is. Of course if CW prefers to take his chances with innuendo (backpeddled innuendo, no less), that's his affair.

    Oh, and to clarify one more point: the Counterpunch authors did not receive an order, which is a directive from a judge that can be challenged in various ways, including appeal. They received a mean and nasty letter from Mr. Al Amoudi's lawyers, which has no weight whatsoever beyond how Counterpunch reads the cards and decides who has the better hand; since Counterpunch folded, and folded with a statement that they have no evidence to support a specific implication, they surely had a bad draw. By way of comparison, I believe the humor website Something Awful has frequently made sport of such threatening missives, and with some success, since such letters are frequently bluff.

  47. Oh, one more thing, John, that I meant to say before getting on a tear about mean letters from lawyers: on American soil, far more violence has been perpetrated by pro-life fundamentalist Christians than by any other single group. So I would have to say certain conservative Christians pose far greater than a "legislative" threat--I rather suspect George Tiller's family would concur. Of course it's not just abortion providers: a certain group of conservative Christians also seem to enjoy shooting up churches in general, even when an abortion provider isn't attending services, as happened in Illinois earlier this year.

    Given that I, at least, live in an area with far more conservative Christians than Muslims of any stripe, I would have to conclude that I'm statistically more likely to be shot by a conservative Christian than by any Muslim, though I suppose I can mitigate my chances by continuing to avoid church services.

  48. Well, I should qualify: more violence perpetrated by Christians on American soil since 2001, and between 1941 and 2001 I would have to say that was also the case.

    Just to be clear.

  49. This discussion is intensely, intestinally invigourating (tak that how you will... you're probably right).

    Never let it be said that Stonekettle Station doesn't pick every little piece apart.

    I STILL think that there are a half-dozen senior officers who should be getting the Army equivalent of a 3.5 FitRep which would effectively kill their careers... if the USA does not have the steel to just 'resign' them.

    As for what happens to the man himself, I don't really care. WhatEVER happens, he won't be walking the streets as a free man (at least, not for long).

    I'm more concerned about what his actions have done to us and what they will continue to do to the soldiers, marines, sailors (blue and mud), and airmen in the field. Part of the social contract between soldiers in the field and soldiers in garrison is that the garritroopers protect our loved ones and maintain the peace at home. Personally, I think this guy just set back morale on a scale like no NeoCon or Pelosi ever has.

  50. I have to weigh in here and say that I, too, consider fundy Christians to be a greater threat to me and mine than radical Muslims.

    Eric's already commented on the physical threats associated with same, so I won't belabor the point, but since when is the curtailing of personal freedoms and religious oppression "merely" a legislative threat? I take my 1st Amendment rights quite seriously, and since there's tons of evidence that evangelical Christians are committed to the conversion of Armed Forces, I take the threat damn seriously.

    As an outsider to both points of view, I consider the fundies more of a threat because there's just so damn many of them.


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