Two reporters at the Associated Press covering the trial of the alleged (but really confessed) perpetrator of the Ft. Hood massacre still believe there is a “key but difficult question” which needs to be answered: “Why did Maj. Nidal Hasan attack his fellow soldiers in the worst mass shooting ever on a U.S. military base?”
Although the narrative of Nomaan Merchant and Michael Graczyk is couched in the context of what prosecutors will allow themselves to say in the trial itself — after all, the government claims that the murders represent an incident of workplace violence, and therefore not one involving terrorism — the pair’s opening, which is what will get most readers’ attention, still makes it appear that Hasan’s motives remain vague (bolds are mine):
PROSECUTORS GETTING TO MOTIVE IN FORT HOOD TRIAL
The prosecutors pursuing the death penalty against the Army psychiatrist accused in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage will soon begin trying to answer a difficult but key question: Why did Maj. Nidal Hasan attack his fellow soldiers in the worst mass shooting ever on a U.S. military base?
Both sides offered a few hints so far. Although he’s been mostly silent in the courtroom, Hasan used his brief opening statement to tell jurors he had “switched sides” in what he called America’s war with Islam and he later leaked documents to the media showing he believed he could be a martyr.
On Sunday, the Killeen Daily Herald published contents of a three-page letter it received last week from the American-born Muslim in which he said he was “defending my religious faith” when he carried out the attack.
“It is one thing for the United States to say `We don’t want Shariah (God’s) law to govern us’ but its (sic) not acceptable to have a foreign policy that tries to replace Shariah law for a more secular form of government,” he wrote, echoing similar comments he’s made in the media.
Military prosecutors opened the trial by saying they would show that Hasan felt he had a “jihad duty,” referring to a Muslim term for a religious war or struggle. After calling almost 80 witnesses over two weeks, prosecutors said Friday they would begin tackling the question this week.
As seen in the bolded statements in the excerpt, the only way there can be vagueness about Hasan’s motives is if one chooses to completely ignore what the man has actually said.
The related news item at the Killeen Daily Herald covering the letter reminds readers that “Hasan is representing himself, but the presiding judge ruled he cannot defend his actions by telling jurors he was fighting on behalf of the Taliban.” Well, he may not be able to say so in court, but he’s already effectively told the rest of the world, hasn’t he?
So what is it with Merchant and Graczyk dancing around the obvious in their opening?
Unfortunately, I believe it’s because they know most low-information news consumers won’t get past the headline, and if they do, many if not most of the rest won’t get past the first paragraph. The idea, it would appear, is to keep as many readers as uninformed as possible.
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.