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Morning report: Aug. 20

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Posted: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 7:20 am

Good morning from Club Hood. Today is day 11 in the capital murder court-martial of Maj. Nidal Hasan. Things have heated up since Monday. It looks like the prosecution will rest today.

Fun fact of the day: Before Hasan opted to grow a beard for religious purposes, his court-martial was set to begin one year ago today. Instead, we have a new judge from Fort Bragg, a defendant with a bushy beard neither the judge nor the Army will touch and three defense attorneys who have been relegated to spectator status. What a difference a year makes!

Fort Hood's public affairs people have been tracking the progress of the trial day to day and told us there are seven witnesses remaining in the prosecution's case. They expect the government to wrap up its case by lunch today. Then fireworks may happen when Hasan is given the opportunity to put on his case. My prediction is that he will call one witness, move through his case quicker than expected and rest before the afternoon is done. Mind you, I'm batting roughly .150 on my trial predictions so far.

A tidbit that only got cursory mention in my coverage from yesterday's hearing (available here) was Hasan's request to redefine "jihad" and "Allahu Akbar" for the jury. The prosecution had no problems to letting the jury know Hasan wants jihad to be know as this:

Jihad — Under Islam, the central doctrine that calls on believers to combat the enemies of their religion. According to the Qur’an and the Hadith, jihad is a duty that may be fulfilled in four ways: by the heart, the tongue, the hand, or the sword. The first way involves an inner hatred for those evils that cannot be overcome by the other 3 [sic] ways. The ways of the tongue and hand call for verbal defense and right actions. The jihad of the sword involves waging war against enemies of Islam. Believers contend that those who die fighting in All-Mighty Allah’s cause are guaranteed a place in paradise as well as a special status.

Allahu Akbar or Alluh o Akbar — Islamic phrase meaning "God is Greater" or "God is the Greatest"  Used in many situations. Its recital is necessary in the Muslim prayer ritual, but is popularly used as a battle cry of the Mujahideen when fighting the enemies of Islam. It is also used in other varying emotional states like happiness when hearing good news.

Hasan wrote the definitions and made the request for them to be changed personally.

I'll be tweeting all day today, so follow me at @KDHcrime for updates.

Media report:

As the trial on the merits wraps up, the media presence is growing. It will spike when the verdict gets closer. Fifty-eight members of the media are here today, 21 more than yesterday. CNN, FoxNews, Stars and Stripes, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Los angeles Times, the Associated Press, Reuter's, the San Antonio Express-News, the Austin American-Statesman, regional and local TV are all here.

The New York Times has got the scoop today, obtaining emails Hasan wrote to supervisors in the weeks leading up to the shooting over concerns he had from reports soldiers had given them about what he calls "adverse" actions. They include a report that soldiers dumped 50 gallons of fuel into an Iraqi water supply. Hasan referenced the emails while cross examining Lt. Col. Ben Phillips on day one of the trial. Here's a basic run down from an article published that day.

Retired Lt. Col. Ben Phillips told the court that Hasan appeared calm and collected in October when he notified the major of his imminent deployment to Afghanistan.

Phillips was the first witness Hasan cross examined, asking him to elaborate on officer evaluation forms that indicated Hasan had been given a positive job performance review just weeks prior to the shooting.

Hasan then asked Phillips about emails Hasan had sent Phillips referencing soldiers who had been ordered to kill innocents in war zones. Hasan said soldiers had been ordered to dump 50 gallons of gasoline into an Iraqi water supply and spoke of medical mercy killings.

It drew the first objection of the day, at which Osborn said his questions were outside the scope of the current range of testimony. Osborn advised that Hasan could recall Phillips at a later date to pose the same questions.

The Associated Press via the Washington Post wonders if Hasan will take the stand. Eugene Fidell, a former judge advocate who teaches military law at Yale Law School, doesn't think so. "His moment of the limelight is going to be on sentencing, and then he’ll be able to give a speech," Fidell said. "That’s going to be his opportunity."

The Los Angeles Times gives a good account of Hasan's cross examination of a staff sergeant who said he fired on an unarmed civilian.


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