FORT HOOD (July 9, 2013)—During a brief final pretrial hearing Tuesday, military judge Col. Tara Osborn ordered Fort Hood gunman Maj. Nidal Hasan to wear his uniform during his court-martial and admonished him for releasing sealed information to the media.
(Sketch by Brigette Woosley)
Hasan told the judge Tuesday he took no pride in his uniform, but Osborn said he would be forced, if necessary, to wear it during the court-martial.
Ordinarily a military defendant would appear in full dress uniform, but for medical reasons Hasan is being permitted wear looser-fitting ACUs, short for Army combat uniform.
"I can't take any pride in wearing this uniform, it represents an enemy of Islam," Hasan said.
"I'm being forced to wear this uniform,” he said.
Osborn admonished Hasan Tuesday for releasing to a local newspaper a memo on his proposal to mount a “defense of others” strategy that Osborn had ordered sealed.
"Did you release this to media?" Osborn asked.
"Yes. I gave permission for it to be released,” Hasan responded.
"That order was for your protection," Osborn said.
"Since you've released it, the government now knows what it says," she said.
"It was sealed to protect you, you violated a court order so I am (now) unsealing it," Osborn said.
Osborn told Hasan he must follow the rules and that if he doesn’t the failure could jeopardize his plan to represent himself.
Osborn earlier rejected the strategy detailed in the memo in which Hasan would have argued that he shot U.S. troops because they posed an immediate threat to Taliban leaders in Afghanistan.
Hasan apparently won’t accept an offer of assistance from former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, with whom he met over the weekend and on Monday.
Clark had said he might step in when testimony begins in August, however, but Hasan told the judge Tuesday that he won’t need Clark’s assistance unless he’s allowed to pursue the “defense of others” strategy.
"If the court allows me to use the defense of thirds, I will use Clark," Hasan said.
"Otherwise I will be continuing to represent myself," he said.
Clark, 85, represented Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in 2005 and unsuccessfully sued the U.S. government on behalf of surviving Branch Davidians over the botched raid and standoff in 1993 at the group’s Central Texas compound.
He served as attorney general during the Johnson administration from 1967 to 1969.
The process of seating a 12-member jury panel for the court-martial started Tuesday afternoon.
A pool of more than 140 officers of Hasan’s rank or higher has been assembled from throughout the Army.
Prospective jurors were instructed Tuesday that Hasan being forced to wear a uniform over his objections and that he is wearing ACUs for medical reasons.
They were told not to infer guilt or innocence from his attire
Osborn also instructed the potential panelists that Hasan has grown a beard for religious issues, which she said is a command issue and not something to be taken into account during the court-martial.
Six of the 20 officers who reported Tuesday were dismissed as potential jurors including one who knew one of the 13 victims.
Osborn, and prosecutors questioned the group for more than an hour, but Hasan didn't ask any questions.
Individual questioning will begin Wednesday.
Hasan has been provided with an office equipped with a computer and a printer-copier in a trailer near the courtroom, but Osborn denied his request for direct Internet access, saying that his paralegals and standby counsel could do research online for him.
Hasan will also be allowed access to a non-networked computer in which case documents are stored during meetings with standby counsel in a contact visitation room in the Bell County Jail, where he’s held.
He was also granted access to a law library at the jail.
Hasan is charged with premeditated murder and attempted premeditated murder in the shooting rampage on Nov. 5, 2009 at Fort Hood’s Soldier Readiness Center that left 13 dead and more than 30 injured.
If convicted, he would be sentenced to death or life without the possibility of parole.
Osborn entered a plea of not guilty for Hasan on July 2 after the Army psychiatrist refused to plead.
Hasan, an American-born Muslim, said he earlier tried to plead guilty after his Muslim community told him his actions went against Islamic teachings, but said he later came to believe his actions weren't wrong because of the war in Afghanistan.
A guilty plea isn't permitted in death penalty cases under the military code of justice.
Hasan was bound over for court-martial after an Article 32 hearing in 2010.
More than 50 witnesses testified during the hearing, which is the military equivalent of a civilian grand jury review.
The prosecution’s case could unfold in a similar fashion once court-martial testimony begins, but this time survivors of the rampage could be questioned by the man on trial for shooting them instead of his attorneys, who are now in a standby role.