Slatest PM: Life and Death in Military Court

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 23 2013 4:32 PM

Slatest PM: Life and Death in Military Court

US Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, left, at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin.
US Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, left, at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California. File photo, August 23, 2011.

File photo via EPA/Spc. Ryan Hallock/DVIDS/Handout.

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

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

Death: Associated Press: "Maj. Nidal Hasan was convicted Friday for the deadly 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, a shocking assault against American troops at home by one of their own who said he opened fire on fellow soldiers to protect Muslim insurgents abroad. A jury of high-ranking military officers reached a unanimous guilty verdict on all 13 counts of premeditated murder and a guilty verdict on 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. Hasan is now eligible for the death penalty. ... Because Hasan never denied his actions, the case was always less about a conviction than about ensuring a death sentence—which are rare in military court. From the beginning, the government has sought to execute Hasan, believing that any lesser sentence would deprive the military and victims' families of the justice they have sought since the Nov. 5, 2009, attack. ... Hasan, who is serving as his own attorney, began the trial by telling jurors that evidence would 'clearly show' he was the gunman."

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Life: New York Times: "Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who pleaded guilty to slaughtering 16 Afghan civilians inside their homes, will spend the rest of his life in prison, a military jury decided on Friday. ... The six-member military jury considering his fate had two options: sentence him to life in prison with no possibility of parole, or allow him a chance at freedom after about 20 years behind bars. His guilty plea in June removed the death penalty from the table. In pressing for mercy, Sergeant Bales’ defense team said he had been a good soldier, a loving father and a stand-up friend before snapping after four combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. But prosecutors said he was a man frustrated with his career and family, easy to anger, whose rage erupted at the end of his M-4 rifle."

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

End of an Era For Microsoft: Wall Street Journal: "The software giant said Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, a central figure at the company for more than three decades, has decided to retire within the next 12 months. The surprise announcement Friday follows a broad reorganization that had appeared to solidify his power at Microsoft as head of a new team of leaders. Mr. Ballmer, who is 57 years old, will depart after a successor has been chosen, the company said. Its board has appointed a special committee—including Chairman Bill Gates—that will consider both external and internal candidates."

Obama on Syria: Reuters: "President Barack Obama called the apparent gassing of hundreds of Syrian civilians a 'big event of grave concern' but stressed on Friday he was in no rush to embroil Americans in a costly new war. As opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad braved the frontlines around Damascus to smuggle out tissue samples from victims of Wednesday's mass poisoning, Obama brushed over an interviewer's reminder that he once called chemical weapons a "red line" that could trigger U.S. action. A White House spokesman reiterated Obama's position that he did not expect to have 'boots on the ground' in Syria. Obama's caution contrasted with calls for action from NATO allies, including France, Britain and Turkey, where leaders saw little doubt Assad's forces had staged pre-dawn missile strikes that rebels say killed between 500 and well over 1,000 people."

Gun Culture: NBC News: "Furious at the killing of an Australian college baseball player in Oklahoma, a senior figure in the victim's home country blamed the 'gun culture' of United States for the death, saying it was 'corrupting the world.' 'The U.S. has chosen the pathway of illogical policy with regard to guns,' Australia’s former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer said Friday. 'They cannot expect not to have any criticism of it worldwide.' His remarks came as the family of slain catcher Christopher Lane struggled to understand why three teens killed him, apparently telling cops they were bored."

Arrest Made in Death of WWII Vet: CBS News: "Police in Spokane, Wash. have arrested a juvenile male in connection with the Wednesday beating death of an 88-year-old WWII veteran outside an Eagles Ice-A-Rena.... The boy was booked on first degree robbery and first degree murder charges.... Police say two teens are suspected in the beating death of Delbert Belton, who was shot in the leg during the Battle of Okinawa, where thousands of American soldiers died. Images of the two teen suspects were captured on surveillance video, police said. Authorities say the two young men, between 16 and 19-years-old, approached Delbert Belton in his car Wednesday night outside the Ice-A-Rena as he was waiting for a friend. The victim's daughter-in-law said Belton was hit with 'big heavy flashlights' and doctors told her he was bleeding from all parts of his face...."

ESPN's Priorities: New York Times: "Pressure from the National Football League led to ESPN’s decision on Thursday to pull out of an investigative project with Frontline regarding head injuries in the N.F.L., according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation. ESPN, which is owned by the Walt Disney Company, pays the N.F.L. more than $1 billion a year to broadcast Monday Night Football, a ratings juggernaut and cherished source of revenue for Disney. Frontline, the PBS public affairs series, and ESPN had been working for 15 months on a two-part documentary, to be televised in October. But ESPN’s role came under intense pressure by the league, the two people said, after a trailer for the documentary was released Aug. 6, the day that the project was discussed at a Television Critics Association event in Beverly Hills, Calif."

A Few More Quick Hits From Slate

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