Monday, 11 January 2010

Hasan Relative Joins Defense Team; JAG Empanels "Sanity Board"

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In order to determine his competency to stand trial, Major Nidal Hasan is to undergo a mental evaluation by a team of three military medical professionals. The panel is composed of doctors chosen from the Army, Air Force, and Navy medical corps, and it will begin its evaluation of the case by reviewing the voluminous material contained in Hasan’s file.

The names of panel members have not been released by JAG attorneys working on the case; however, they informed The New American that the review can take as much as 45 days and at the conclusion, Hasan will be personally interviewed by the panel, described by JAG as a “sanity board.”

Hasan’s defense attorney, John Galligan, objected to the procedure, claiming that the process is being rushed and that it is impossible for military, especially Army, mental-health professionals to be impartial. When asked by The New American for their response to Galligan’s objections, JAG attorneys averred that they are “following all proper procedures and rules.”

Major Nidal Malik Hasan is accused opening gunfire in a Ft. Hood processing center and murdering 13 people. He is also charged with the attempted murder of 32 others wounded during the rampage. Hasan is currently hospitalized in San Antonio, recovering from injuries he received when he was shot by civilian police responding to the scene of the November 5 massacre. He is reportedly paralyzed from the chest down, but is lucid and communicative.

Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston near San Antonio was placed on lockdown for several hours last week after an unarmed and unidentified man asked security guards to escort him to Hasan’s room. At first the man claimed to be one of Hasan’s lawyer, but upon further inquiry, he identified himself as a doctor. As security guards are familiar with all legal and medical personnel with permission to visit Hasan, they recognized that the man was an impostor, and he was immediately taken into custody without ever gaining access to Hasan.

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The man was escorted quickly off base by security, and officials immediately ordered that the Fort’s gates be closed for about 45 minutes in order to evaluate the situation. The visitor was questioned by civilian San Antonio police and was judged not to pose a threat and was not subsequently arrested.

In a further development, Galligan announced that a member of Hasan’s family would be joining his legal defense team. Galligan refused to disclose the identify of the relative or the exact relationship to Hasan. In the days following Hasan’s deadly attack, the Washington Post reported that Hasan has two brothers: Anas, a laywer based in Jerusalem; and Eyad, a businessman in Hasan’s home state of Virginia. Galligan would neither confirm nor deny whether either of Hasan’s brothers was the defense-team addition.

Galligan adamantly denied, however, that the new member of the team was the unidentified person who attempted to visit Hasan’s room, and although he was informed of the intrusion and the resulting lockdown, he had no knowledge of the person’s identity or the purpose of his attempted visit.

Photo: AP Images