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August 22, 2013

Hasan: ‘Illegal war’ provoked Fort Hood shooting rampage

FORT HOOD, Texas — American soldiers deploying overseas to “engage in an illegal war” provoked the deadly shooting rampage at Fort Hood in 2009, the soldier accused in the attack said Wednesday after refusing to mount a defense during his trial.

Maj. Nidal Hasan could face the death penalty if convicted for the attack that killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 others at the Texas military base. But when given the chance to rebut prosecutors’ lengthy case, the Army psychiatrist declined.

About five minutes after court began Wednesday, a day after prosecutors rested their case, the judge asked Hasan how he wanted to proceed. Hasan, who is acting as his own attorney, said: “The defense rests.”

But after jurors were dismissed, Hasan told the judge, Col. Tara Osborn, that the jury shouldn’t have the option of convicting him on the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.

“I would like to agree with the prosecution that it wasn’t done under the heat of sudden passion,” Hasan said. “There was adequate provocation — that these were deploying soldiers that were going to engage in an illegal war.”

Prosecutors had no objection.

“There’s not a shred of evidence to suggest the accused was acting under a heat of passion as he was committing the single largest mass murder on a U.S. military installation ever,” Col. Steve Henricks, one of the prosecutors, told the judge.

The exchange came during a late-afternoon hearing, hours after Osborn adjourned jurors for the day. Closing arguments are scheduled to begin today in the court-martial, the military’s equivalent of a trial, though it’s unclear whether Hasan plans to say anything.

So far, he has made no attempt to prove his innocence. He has questioned just three witnesses, and the only piece of evidence he submitted was a favorable evaluation he received from a former supervisor a few days before the attack.

So his simple declaration Wednesday abdicating a defense wasn’t much of a surprise.

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