To the editor of THE EAGLE:
Just five days after an Army jury of six sentenced Staff Sergeant Robert Bales to life in prison without parole for murdering 16 innocent Afghan civilians -- men, women and children, many in their sleep -- another Army jury sentenced psychiatrist Major Nidal Malik Hasan to death for murdering 13 army personnel at Fort Hood. The nuances in the two sets of circumstances that led to two different sentences will surely be lost upon the world’s Muslims, who are likely to see an infuriating double standard: "Kill us in our country, and we will put you to death, but if one of us kills you in your country, you cannot persecute him. We will bring him home for his protection and show him mercy."
Some Afghan witnesses and victims traveled all the way to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state to testify and describe their tragic losses. Witnesses and victims from the Fort Hood shooting told their stories, too. Was the loss for American citizens greater than that for the Afghans? I assure you it was not, but the jury in both cases were Americans.
How impartial could an Army jury be in the Major Hasan case? The sentence in the Bales trial was limited (by Army regulations?) to only two choices: life with the possibility of parole after 20 years, or life without parole. Given the horrific actions of Bales, the jury gave him the toughest sentence it could. For whatever reason, the sentence for Hasan had no such limitations.
Major Hasan did little to defend himself. He considers his execution as martyrdom and welcomes it. The prosecutor told the 13 jurors that Hasan’s execution would be his "debt to society" and not a "gift to God." But that argument will carry no weight with much of the Muslim world.
Life in prison would have denied Major Hasan any claim to martyrdom. It would also have denied the Muslim world an argument that America values American lives more than Muslims in foreign countries. The jurors at Hasan’s trial have given Islamic extremists more fuel for their propaganda campaigns against the U.S., and have made our proclaimed words "all men are created equal" sound hollow.