William Hamilton: A tale of two traumas
Grand County, CO Colorado
The first traumatic event took place at Ft. Hood, Texas, when, on Sept. 8, 2009, U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, M.D., murdered 13 of his fellow soldiers and wounded 32 others. As he killed and wounded his fellow soldiers, Major Hasan repeatedly shouted “Allahu Akbar!”
Investigation revealed Major Hasan had a long and quite obvious history of interacting with some of the most outspoken proponents of violent jihad against American armed forces personnel. No Mullah or Imam apologized for Major Hasan’s actions. As the Arab Street rejoiced world-wide, Mr. Eric Holder, President Obama’s attorney general, opined that Major Hasan’s murderous gunfire had nothing to do with Islamic terrorism.
Moreover, the then Army chief-of-staff indicated his concern that the “real tragedy” of Ft. Hood would be harming the cause of diversity. As late as February 2010 he was saying: “… as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.”
Defended at no-cost by three lawyers appointed to defend him, Major Hasan’s likely defense is insanity based on Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because, as an Army psychiatrist, Major Hasan was traumatized by “listening” to what his patients told him about their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.
When, if ever, will Major Hasan go on trial? Not until June 12. All this time, Major Hasan, who has never been deployed overseas to suffer the heat, dirt, flies, diseases, and combat dangers of either Iraq or Afghanistan, has been incarcerated in temperature-controlled comfort, fed the ethnic-religious foods he desires and, of course, is free to face Mecca and pray all the times he wishes. He draws full pay and allowances and probably receives better medical care than many of our long-suffering veterans. If convicted, Major Hasan could receive the death penalty. Yeah, right.
The second traumatic event took place on March 11, when it is alleged that Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales went on a night-time shooting rampage in Afghanistan, killing 17 Afghan civilians, and wounding several others. Currently, Sgt. Bales is being held at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan.
Sergeant Bales’ history is far different than that of Major Hasan. By March 11, Sgt. Bales had already served three combat tours in Iraq and was in Afghanistan on a fourth combat assignment. Earlier, while in Iraq, Sgt. Bales was in a roll-over vehicle accident. He suffered a brain injury.
Based on Sgt. Bales’ previous combat injury, Bales’ civilian attorney John Henry Browne is likely to argue that his client’s actions were due to diminished mental capacity. For his part, Sgt. Bales says he has no memory of whatever happened on March 11.
Even before a preliminary investigation (Article 32) was initiated, President Obama threw Sgt. Bales to the media wolves with a profuse apology to the Arab Street, to the entire Muslim World, and to Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Meanwhile, Mr. Leon Panetta, President Obama’s secretary of defense, immediately opined that this looks like a death-penalty case. Does anyone see a double standard here?
This stark contrast in treatment suggests these two cases could have vastly different outcomes. Both Major Hasan and Sgt. Bales could face a firing squad. We will leave it to the reader to forecast the future. But, based on what we have seen so far, it looks pretty good for Major Hasan and pretty grim for Sgt. Bales.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.
©2012. William Hamilton.
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