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The second thing Army Maj. Nidal Hasan did was grow a beard.The first thing he did was allegedly stalk around Ft. Hood, Texas, shouting “Allahu Akbar” and shooting 42 people, 13 of whom died, until civilian police officer Sgt. Mark Todd drew down and dropped him with five shots.
That was three years ago — Nov. 5, 2009. Now the military judge presiding over the case, which has suffered many stalls, has been relieved of his post for alleged bias against Hasan, or more accurately, a lack of ‘impartiality.’
The bias comes in the context of his insistence that Hasan, like all soldiers (especially those in deep trouble standing in front of a court martial), maintain proper grooming standards, as outlined in Army Regulation 670-1.
There was also another discrepancy, from the Blaze:
At a June hearing, lead defence attorney Lt. Col. Kris Poppe said the judge showed a bias against Hasan when he asked defence attorneys to clean up a court restroom after Gross found a medical waste bag, adult diaper and what appeared to be feces on the floor after a previous hearing. Hasan, who is paralysed from the waist down after being shot by police the day of the shootings, has to wear adult diapers – but the mess in the restroom that day was mud from a guard’s boots, Poppe said.
The removal of Col. Gregory Gross, the presiding judge, has turned this trial into a total travesty.
“It’s extremely unusual,” Eugene Fidell, who teaches military justice at Yale Law School, told the Daily Beast, “I can’t remember that happening to a trial judge.”
The military appeals court says it’s up to the command, not the judge, to enforce grooming standards; but the judge commands the courtroom, and last time I checked, any active duty service member of any rank can insist another service member adhere to regulated military grooming standards.
The Daily Beast also notes that several service members have received waivers in the past, mostly special operators looking to blend in and people with health issues. The few cases there are of religious exemption (that I could find) usually involve service members of superior standing working in mostly civilian or plainclothes environments (like Naval hospitals).
Hasan is neither of those things.
That a straight-laced, squared away colonel insists his defendant shave and considers a disgusting mess in the bathroom unsatisfactory is not indicative of ‘bias’ — it’s a commander maintaining “the good order and discipline” of his surroundings and the soldiers therein.
Hasan says he doesn’t want to risk dying without sporting a beard, as per his religion. The grooming standard states that only a commander, colonel or higher, can grant a grooming waiver. So far, none has been granted.
Some argue pragmatism — let him have his beard so that the trial, delayed several times, can move on.
Hey, it’s just a beard, right?
But the beard is not just a step in following his own personal choice of religion, which is explicitly sidelined by the oath he took to the state, it’s an act of defiance and rebellion in the face of the U.S. justice system. It’s a daily reaffirmation to Hasan himself, when he looks in the mirror, that he walks what he considers a righteous path.
Indeed, friend and very dead confidant, Anwar Awlaki, called Hasan a hero following the shooting, saying that, “fighting against the U.S. army is an Islamic duty.”
Hasan is a soldier first; a volunteer, who allegedly committed a heinous crime on unwitting fellow soldiers. He is not a top-of-his-class military surgeon, he is not a special operator, and he does not have any strange type of facial disease (as are others who have received grooming waivers).
Until he has been discharged from the military, he remains subject to military rules.