Judge Blocks Ft. Hood "Jihadi" Evidence

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 19 2013 4:52 PM

Slatest PM: The Fort Hood Evidence the Jury Won't Hear

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In this photo released by the Bell County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Maj. Nidal Hasan is seen in a booking photo after being moved to the Bell County Jail on April 9, 2010 in Belton, Texas

Photo by Bell County Sheriff's Office via Getty Images

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Judge Limits Fort Hood Evidence: ABC News: "Lawyers representing the family members of those killed and injured in the Ft. Hood shooting rampage were outraged today when an Army judge limited prosecutors from introducing evidence, including emails to a known Al Qaeda operative, that would establish accused shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan's 'jihadi' motives. The judge's rulings could inhibit the ability of the victims' families to claim in a civil suit that the shootings were an act of terror. Federal lawyers involved in the civil suit claim that the people shot during Hasan's murderous rage were victims of workplace violence, a designation that could sharply limit the damages in a civil suit."

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What They Can't Talk About: Associated Press: "[Col. Tara] Osborn barred any reference to Hasan Akbar, a Muslim soldier sentenced to death for attacking fellow soldiers in Kuwait during the 2003 Iraq invasion. Prosecutors wanted to prove that Hasan, an American-born Muslim, wanted to carry out a 'copycat' attack, but the judge said introducing such material would 'only open the door to a mini-trial' of Akbar. She also said such evidence would result in a 'confusion of issues, unfair prejudice, waste of time and undo delay.' The judge said prosecutors also couldn't introduce three emails, ruling that the needed redactions would make them irrelevant. The contents of the emails were never disclosed, but the FBI has said Hasan sent numerous emails starting in December 2008 to Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical U.S.-born Islamic cleric killed by a drone strike in Yemen in 2011. The judge also told prosecutors that they couldn't cite Hasan's interest years ago in conscientious objector status and his past academic presentations. Osborn said such evidence was too old and irrelevant."

It's Monday, welcome to the Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at@JoshVoorhees and the whole team at @Slatest.

N.J. Second to Ban Gay Conversion Therapy: CBS News: "Gov. Chris Christie on Monday signed a bill barring licensed therapists from trying to turn gay teenagers straight, making New Jersey the second state to ban so-called conversion therapy, along with California. ... In a signing note accompanying the bill, Christie said he believes people are born gay and that homosexuality is not a sin. That view is inconsistent with his Catholic faith, which teaches that homosexual acts are sins. The Republican governor also said the health risks of trying to change a child's sexual orientation, as identified by the American Psychological Association, outweigh concerns over the government setting limits on parental choice."

Slatest Refresher: Calling conversion therapy "controversial"—or even "therapy"—is overly kind. Robert Spitzer, the psychiatrist who first popularized the idea, has since repudiated his own work and apologized. Exodus International, the "ex-gay" ministry that was arguably the movement's most public proponent, has likewise shut its doors. It's also been condemned by the American Psychiatric Associationthe American Medical Association, and the American Psychological Association, which found that such efforts seriously increases patients' risk of suicide, depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Manning Sentencing: Associated Press: "Army Pfc. Bradley Manning should spend 60 years in prison because he betrayed the U.S. by giving classified material to WikiLeaks, a prosecutor said Monday. The soldier’s defense attorney didn’t recommend a specific punishment, but suggested any prison term shouldn’t exceed 25 years because the classification of some of the documents Manning leaked expires in 25 years. ... Manning faces up to 90 years in prison, but Capt. Joe Morrow only asked the judge to sentence him to 60 years. Morrow did not say during closing arguments of the court-martial why prosecutors were not seeking the maximum punishment. A military judge convicted Manning last month of 20 offenses, including six violations of the Espionage Act and five counts of stealing protected information."

Train Kills Dozens of Pilgrims: Reuters: "A train killed at least 34 people crossing a railway track in eastern India on Monday, triggering a protest by passengers who beat the driver unconscious, attacked other staff and torched a carriage, officials and media said. Railways spokesman Anil Saxena said that some of those hit by the express train were Hindu pilgrims who had left two trains at Dhamara station, 110 miles east of Patna, the capital of Bihar state. Reports said dozens were injured. ... About 40 people on average die every day on India's vast but decrepit railway network. Many of the victims are slum dwellers who live near the lines and use them as open toilets. Some passengers fall off overcrowded commuter trains."

Pistorius Indicted: NBC News: "Olympian Oscar Pistorius cried in court on Monday and friends of slain model Reeva Steenkamp were 'visibly distressed' as the double-amputee was indicted on a premeditated murder charge. On the day that would have been Steenkamp's 30th birthday, Pistorius stood in the dock of the courtroom in Pretoria, South Africa, and wiped away tears. ... The court later set March 3 as the trial date for Pistorius."

Biden Not Calling It Quits: Wall Street Journal: "Political allies of Vice President Joe Biden have concluded that he can win the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination—even if Hillary Clinton enters the contest—and are considering steps he could take to prepare for a potential candidacy. ... If he runs, that could set up a titanic battle between two of the party's most prominent figures. One step under discussion by Biden backers is to form a political action committee he would use to funnel money to other Democratic candidates, which could build goodwill for a possible White House bid, people familiar with the talks said. Meanwhile, Mr. Biden is preparing to attend a Democratic event in Iowa... and to raise money this week for the Democratic governor of New Hampshire.... Many prominent Democrats believe that Mrs. Clinton would be so heavily favored in a presidential primary that Mr. Biden and other party hopefuls wouldn't even contest the nomination were she to run. ... But Biden loyalists aren't writing off the idea. They say he has ties to elected officials nationwide, can attract crowds and money, and is a visible part of an administration that is popular with Democratic voters."

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