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Forcibly Shaving the Defendant

The military has had a strict anti-beard policy for a long time.  Major Nidal Hasan surely knew that when he signed up, and he apparently had no religious objection to compliance prior to the day in 2009 when he killed 13 people and wounded 32 others in Fort Hood, Texas.  He claims he does now.  Tough.  The NYT reports:

A military judge Thursday ordered officials to forcibly shave Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged in the shooting rampage at the Fort Hood base here in 2009, a move that probably will delay the start of his trial for weeks as his defense lawyers appeal the ruling.

A few months ago, Hasan's assertion that he grew a beard out of devotion to his Muslim faith seemed a side issue as pretrial hearings were held at a military court on the base. But as a hearing Thursday made clear, the beard - and what Army officials can do about it - has become a complex legal issue that has suspended Hasan's trial indefinitely for the second time in the span of a few weeks.


Why does the military have such hyper-due process? I used to be under the misconception that the military had always been an exception as far as everything was concerned and, in particular, as far as extremely serious offenses such as murder and treason were concerned. I had imagined that, soon after a murder, the military could essentially put the murderer up against a wall and shoot him.

In your learned opinions, what is the rationale behind not being much swifter in dealing with such matters? I mean, in fact, the military (and various recent presidents) have been much more reticent than many states in getting executions carried out. Indeed, there have been no military executions since the Kennedy administration despite the fact that at least two denizens of military death row have been there since the 1980s.

I'm starting to think that this case would have been handled more efficiently in federal criminal court.

Unfortunately, the military and its courts have been infected with the stain of political correctness.

What about the Sikh officer who is allow both his turban and beard?


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