Convicted mass murderer Nidal Hasan sits in a federal military prison. It is nearly three years since a court martial sentenced him to death. That stark fact advertises the utter lack of seriousness of this administration about the war on terrorists. And it illustrates the moral confusion of the Left in Europe—and here.
Nidal took fourteen lives at Fort Hood. He screamed “Allahu Akbar”—Our God is Greater. Despite this, the Obama administration refused to call his attack terrorism and chalked his killings up to “workplace violence.”
One of Hasan’s victims, Pvt. Francheska Velez, was pregnant. As Hasan opened fire on unarmed military personnel in a medical center, Pvt. Velez cried out: “My baby! My baby!”
She received no mercy. And her unborn child received no recognition from the Obama administration. Mr. Obama declined to prosecute Hasan under the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (UVVA). The UVVA was enacted under President George W. Bush to cover precisely such cases—the murder of an unborn child on a federal installation.
If the U.S. were to hang Hasan, it would send a message to terrorists the world over: America will prevail in this war.
The immediate objection to executing this mass murderer, of course, is that Hasan himself and the suicide bombers at Brussels International Airport could hardly have been deterred by the thought of being hanged for their war crimes.
That may be true. But there were accomplices. Some cohort in Belgium may well have driven the suicide bombers to the airport, knowing their intent. Or another may have supplied them with explosives. Or these guilty men may have enabled the killers to avoid detection.
Perhaps, even the Belgian equivalent of our TSA has been penetrated. We may be sure of this: ISIS is seeking out workers at airports and in transit systems to serve their bloody purposes.
The European Union is wholly incapable of winning this war. It will not even extradite to the U.S. any apprehended terrorist who faces the possibility of execution. Thus, we are critically hampered in our pursuit of victory.
Prior to Barack Obama, the most liberal President of the United States was Franklin D. Roosevelt. Yet our World War II Commander-in-Chief had no qualms about executing Nazi spies captured on Long Island. Roosevelt was determined to win that war.
We now have the gross spectacle of a vile man running for President of the United States on a platform of torture and murder. He wants to torture terror suspects and murder their families.
These are war crimes. No member of the U.S. military can obey any such orders. Lt. William Calley claimed at his Court Martial that he had obeyed orders when he murdered hundreds of civilians in 1968 at My Lai, in South Vietnam. Calley recently said there is not a day in his life he has not regretted leading that mass murder.
In order for us to think it immoral to hang terrorists and spies, we must think General Washington was immoral for hanging the British spy, Maj. John André. André was an attractive and brave young man. He never begged for his life. He pleaded only to be shot like an officer and a gentleman.
Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene had presided over Maj. André’s military tribunal. He advised Gen. Washington. If André was guilty as a spy, he must be hanged. If he is not a spy, he is a prisoner of war and may not be executed at all. Washington’s justice was inflexible. Maj. André was hanged.
President Abraham Lincoln also faced a terrible dilemma in 1862. The Minnesota frontier had erupted in violence. A Sioux uprising claimed more than one thousand American settlers’ lives. The newspapers were aflame with lurid stories of murder, the mutilation of children’s bodies, the rape of little girls.
This flaming, devilish onslaught was for Minnesotans of the day surely as terrorizing as 9/11 was for us. And it came at the moment of maximum crisis in the Civil War. The Lincoln administration was beset by a legion of troubles. The nation had been shocked by Matthew Brady’s photographic exhibit of “The Confederate Dead at Antietam.” It took little imagination for Northern mothers and fathers to envision their own sons’ deaths.
Antietam was the worst single day’s casualties in American history. Add to all this, the danger to free government of removing the very popular Gen. George B. McClellan (and that general’s known opposition to the Emancipation Proclamation). Too, Lincoln faced the looming mid-term elections that threatened political disaster for the cause of liberty, for his party, and for him.
Finally, Lincoln’s own White House was in turmoil. His poor wife Mary had descended nearly into madness. She was prostrated by grief at the death earlier that year of their beloved son, Willie, just twelve years old.
The U.S. Army finally put down the Sioux uprising. A military tribunal condemned 303 Sioux warriors to death.
President Abraham Lincoln took immediate action. Let no man be hanged until I have reviewed his trial record and approved the sentence, he sternly ordered.
Then he painstakingly went through every scrap of evidence produced by the military tribunal. He pared down the list of 303 condemned men to just 38.
Lincoln stood next to the military telegrapher and provided a phonetic spelling for each condemned man’s name. He went the extra mile to avoid hanging any Sioux who might be reasonably spared.
When Gov. Ramsey of Minnesota later came to Washington as the North Star State’s U.S. Senator, he rebuked the president. The Republicans’ mid-term election losses, Ramsey told Lincoln, might not have been so severe had he hanged more Indians. “I could not afford to hang men for votes,” Lincoln replied mildly.
But hang them he did. And those 38 Sioux were the largest mass execution in American history.
Do we think Abraham Lincoln act immorally? Or Washington? Or Roosevelt?
Last fall, the world saw an amazing scene played out in our U.S. House of Representatives. Pope Francis addressed a joint session of Congress. What a tribute to American freedom it was.
Catholics were joined by Protestants, Jews, a Muslim, and unbelievers in paying their respectful attention to the leader of a billion and a half Catholics throughout the world.
As part of his address, the Pontiff called for an end to capital punishment. Many of us had hoped for, even prayed for, a papal call for an end to the slaughter of innocents through abortion.
We should treat Pope Francis’ humane sentiments with the greatest attention and respect—even as some of us dissent. As the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio was known as “the bishop of the slums.” He survived Argentina’s “Dirty War,” a lengthy period of violence when Right-wing military outlaws kidnapped and murdered Left-wing activists.
Not only does Pope Francis’ biography help to explain his eloquent opposition to capital punishment, but so does that of Pope John Paul the Great. The late Pope remains a hero to traditionalists everywhere.
John Paul II also voiced a spirited opposition to state-sanctioned executions. As a young man, Karol Wojtyla lived first under the Nazis and then, for decades, under the Communists.
As Pope, he knew the full story of the Communists’ murder of Father Jerzy Popieluszko, a martyr to religious and civil freedom in Poland. In Evangelium Vitae, his magisterial encyclical letter on The Gospel of Life, John Paul II argues for the protection of the unborn but he also includes his prudential judgment against capital punishment.
It hardly counts as news that many Lutherans dissent from these revered Popes. This writer is a Lutheran.
I argue for hanging Hasan and other mass murderers following a full and fair military tribunal because I believe it will spare us many civilian casualties. We are nearly numb to such horrors; they come now with such frequency—in Paris, in San Bernardino, California, and now in Brussels.
It seems almost as if President Obama’s legacy will be the American flag flying at half-staff. He has freed scores of terrorists from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Nothing could be more unwise, more self-defeating, in pursuing victory against this new peril.
Nor should we exempt George W. Bush from criticism. President Bush had years to empanel military tribunals. He failed to proceed with dispatch to execute justice. Instead, he left hundreds of known terrorists at Gitmo. These have been set free by the invertebrate policies of Barack Obama.
In centuries of international law, slave traders, pirates, and terrorists were dealt with summarily as hostis humani generis—“enemies of all mankind.” Only in these unhappy days, in these times of self-blinding confusion, are we adrift on seas of moral relativism.
Prime Minister Winston Churchill told the British people they faced the loss of “all we have known and cared for” when they stood alone against Hitler’s fury in 1940. British security services quickly rounded up all the Nazi agents in the British Isles. Some were hanged. Most were turned.
Are we to assume that the sure knowledge they would be hanged did not contribute to the decision of so many Nazi agents to change sides? “Depend upon it, Sir, nothing so concentrates the mind as the prospect of being hanged in a fortnight,” said the English sage, Samuel Johnson.
We must avoid at all costs, the shameless calls for mass murder and torture of our enemies that are being spewed by one the worst men in our history. But we should recognize that the failed policies of this administration and the one previous have led us to this pass.
We must not torture. We must not engage in the mass murder of families. Fear must not lead us to commit war crimes. The German expression is Angst frisst seele auf. Fear eats the soul.
The answer to soul-consuming fear is justice. Justice must be served.
That is why we must to hang Nidal Hasan now.
Robert Morrison is a former Reagan official and senior fellow at the Family Research Council who blogs from Annapolis.
Photo Credit: Via U.S. Army and Wikimedia Commons. The American flag on Fort Hood, Texas rests at half-staff in Nov. 2009 during a memorial ceremony honoring the victims of Nidal Hasan’s terrorist attack.