FORT HOOD — A former U.S. attorney general who represented Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic has reached out to the accused Fort Hood shooter to possibly represent him at trial.
Ramsey Clark, when reached Tuesday in New York, confirmed that he sent word last week to Maj. Nidal Hasan indicating his interest in representing the Army psychiatrist in his trial, set to begin next week.
Lawyers and the military judge learned of Clark’s interest in the case during a pretrial hearing on post Tuesday. Hasan asked for and was denied an 11th hour request for a three-day delay to confer with Clark over possible representation.
“I sent word to his brother in Jerusalem that I was very disturbed with him facing trial without a lawyer,” Clark said.
That message was delivered to Hasan’s former defense attorney, John Galligan, who has remained in close contact with Hasan since he fired his military lawyers.
“I don’t think it’s in the interests of the U.S. on the eve of the Fourth of July to deny counsel to someone whose life is in danger,” Clark said.
Hasan told the court Tuesday he was concerned that members of the Muslim community said his alleged actions went against Islamic beliefs because he broke his oath of office with the military.
He said his viewpoint evolved, justifying the Fort Hood shooting as an attack against what he called an unconstitutional war in Afghanistan.
“I have come to an understanding since the war in Afghanistan went against the Constitution and was illegal, my alleged actions did not go against my oath of office,” Hasan said.
The possible involvement of Clark is the latest development in a case that has moved through three iterations of counsel and numerous delays.
Clark, 85, was attorney general under President Lyndon Baines Johnson. During the LBJ administration, he helped draft civil rights legislation.
More recently, he represented several notable people accused of war crimes. He served with a panel of lawyers who represented Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in his military tribunal.
“He is like Jimmy Carter’s twin brother,” terrorism expert and retired Army prosecutor Jeffrey Addicott said. “He has never met an anti-American cause he didn’t like.”
Tuesday’s hearing is likely the final pretrial hearing before jury selection begins.
The military judge, Col. Tara Osborn, entered not guilty pleas on Hasan’s behalf after the Army psychiatrist refused to provide any pleas.
Osborn entered pleas of not guilty to all charges leveled against Hasan, including 13 counts of premeditated murder that carry a possible death sentence.
Osborn said she will give Hasan a wide latitude on many issues, including posing questions to jurors about biases against Muslims. However, she ruled flatly that Hasan’s request for a relatively brief delay was “obstructionist.”
Contact Philip Jankowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.