Not quite four years ago and not long after I joined Atheist Nexus, the incident with Nidal Malik Hasan at Fort Hood happened.  I wrote about it then and wondered at what motivated Hasan to do what he did.  As the discovery process and the trial unfolded, we learned, about Anwar al-Awlaki and Hasan’s communications with him, about Hasan’s radicalization, at least in part from that association and his decision to become a jihadi agent against his own country.

Initially I was somewhat surprised at Hasan’s behavior during the trial: representing himself, his near lack of any meaningful opening statement, a total absence of defense and closing statement.  Then it became clear – Hasan was falling on his sword.  He wanted to lose the trial, wanted to be found guilty, and while the decision hasn’t been reached yet, there is no doubt in my mind but that he wants the death penalty levied against him.  Nidal Malik Hasan wants to be a martyr.

He may get his wish, too.  The evidence against him is overwhelming, I seriously doubt he’s shown the least bit of remorse or contrition, and those in the US Army, the wives, husbands, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters of the victims will very likely demand the death penalty for Hasan, on the basis of their losses and the heinousness of the crime.  They want blood for blood and they are hardly to be blamed.  The problem is that they’re playing directly into his hands.  They are giving him precisely what he wants: to be a martyr for his cause.

It is for that reason that under no circumstances should Nidal Malik Hasan get the death penalty.  His punishment should be life imprisonment, with absolutely no chance of parole.  Rather than having his way, rather than being able to take the easy way out, the coward’s way out, he should be forced to live out his life, confronted each day with the people he plotted against, placed in a situation where he is utterly impotent and powerless against them, and forced to live a long life in that confrontation.  For Hasan, living is a far worse punishment than death, and it is the utter antithesis of his aspiration to die the martyr’s death, the grandest goal Islam offers its faithful.

I realize this goes against the instinct of those who have had to face the dreadful harm Hasan has brought to those who lost loved ones, comrades and companions.  I fully understand and respect their desire to see the same fate meted out to him as he arrogantly delivered to those they lost.  In this case, though, there is a fate worse than death – the fate of having to live with what you’ve done and face that day after day, helplessly, and in the very hands of those he sought to undo.

Do not give Nidal Malik Hasan what he wants.  Give him what he deserves.

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Comment by Loren Miller on September 2, 2013 at 10:28am

Well, it's been a week, and the PD apparently didn't opt to put my piece in their op-ed section.  Granted, by the time they would have put it up, the death penalty decision had already been rendered, but that by no means closes this particular case.  As with virtually all such cases, there will be appeals and petitions and other actions taken by both parties who will continue to argue and pursue their own interests.  In the midst of all that, I think the points I bring out above are due some consideration, if not in that court then in the general public.

I do appreciate all your comments, though.  Many thanks.

Comment by Loren Miller on August 27, 2013 at 9:37pm

Napoleon, from where I sit, Hasan belongs in the same super-max prison which Thomas Silverstein, that multiple offender Pat referred to earlier, is currently incarcerated at.  Indeed, Hasan may deserve precisely the same treatment as Silverstein is getting, though that is not my call.  In any case, the utter lack of human contact or highly restricted human contact is a punishment of its own kind, one which I wouldn't underestimate for one second.

My question remains: are the judge and jury deciding the matter of punishment aware of the points I brought here?

Comment by Pat on August 27, 2013 at 9:18pm

Napoleon, I'm somewhat familiar with the US federal prison system having both seen clients inside them and acquaintances with guards and employees. There's a complete ban on tobacco use, absolutely no pets of any kind, and if you're in solitary confinement or "no human contact," no computers. Ohhh, and allow me to mention the food. It's called a "meal loaf," They take all the ingredients, with the right balance of nutrients, for a complete day's meal. They put it in a blender, grind it up, and bake it. You get 1/3 of the loaf (no seasoning, herbs, spices, or flavor), 3 times a day. As to not being raped, that's true. As to no one ever to talk to (in Silverstein's case), that's true too.

Comment by Loren Miller on August 27, 2013 at 7:56pm

Many thanks, Joan and Pat!

Comment by Pat on August 27, 2013 at 7:50pm

Congrats, Loren!

Comment by Joan Denoo on August 27, 2013 at 5:46pm

Loren, good news! 

Comment by Loren Miller on August 27, 2013 at 5:16pm

Got a call a couple hours ago ... from the Plain Dealer ... I think my LttE is going to get published!

Comment by Loren Miller on August 27, 2013 at 9:28am

Thanks a lot for your comment, Easton.  It's one thing to talk about this business.  It's quite another to hear about it from someone who was actually THERE.

Comment by Easton Le on August 27, 2013 at 9:05am

I was stationed at Fort Hood during that time the coward shot up the medical section of the processing center. I even had a friend who was supposed to go to that very medical section around that general time frame but her procrastination saved her. And since the coward did what he did the medical section, a number of small buildings, has been cordoned with formidable chain-link fences topped of with concertina wire. He did a very wicked thing and he should be punished.

Originally, I wanted him to get the death sentence as quick as possible. But monitoring his trial I realize it is far better to leave him alive in solitary confinement for the rest of his life. That is what I hope happens to him. From what I understand, solitary confinement is the worst punishment imaginable. The hardest of the hard in federal prisons prefer to be out in general population where their lives are at risk rather than spend any amount of time in solitary confinement. Give him solitary.

Comment by Pat on August 25, 2013 at 10:18am

I tend to agree with Loren on this one. I do agree with Joan and SB that he should not be allowed to radicalize others. And, there is a way to do that.  There's currently an example of this in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. His name is Thomas Silverstein. In 1983, the federal prison in Marion, Illinois, was considered THE maximum security prison in the US; having replaced Alcatraz. In that year, Silverstein murdered a guard named Merle Clutts. (As an aside, Mr. Clutt's son Mike is a good friend of mine). At the time of the murder, SIlverstein was serving multiple life sentences for murders committed while in prison. In 1983, there was no federal death penalty. Silverstein was convicted of the murder, and in an effort to make an example out of hi, his is now serving the rest of life at the Federal Super Max in Colorado. There's a twist. He's the only prisoner I am aware of where there's a standing order that he is to have "no human contact." He's 60 years old, has already done 26 years under the "no human contact" order which constitutes complete isolation, and has a projected release date of 2095. Let's face it, his parole  officer hasn't been born.  Maybe Hasan should be the next candidate.



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