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Terrorism expert may testify at Fort Hood trial

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TWC News: Terrorism expert may testify at Fort Hood trial
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A military judge found accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan in contempt for the third time for refusing to shave his beard.

Hasan was fined $1,000, bringing the total amount of fines assessed to $3000. Through his attorneys Hasan has contended that he is growing his beard because of his Islamic faith, however growing a beard goes against Army grooming regulations.

After Hasan respectfully declined to shave his beard, he was wheeled out of the courtroom to watch the rest of the proceedings from a trailer outside the courthouse via closed circuit television.

Terrorism Expert Testimony During Trial

As part of the proceedings on Thursday, a Daubert Hearing was held to decide whether or not the prosecution's terrorism expert's testimony will be allowed during the court martial.

Testifying over the telephone, Evan Kohlmann laid out his qualifications under Lt. Col. Steve Henricks questioning.

In addition to his educational qualifications through his work at Georgetown University, and subsequent law degree, Kohlmann testified that he had worked with think tanks as well as provided expert testimony as part of 24 cases in U.S. federal court as well as in Guantanamo Bay.

Kohlmann has prepared an expert report for the case, which he said listed six prongs or commonalities shared by “contemporary violent extremists” or “homegrown terrorists.”

Among those six prongs include the browsing of terrorist websites, sudden acquisition of weapons, previous ties to terror group or individual, as well as paramilitary training.

As part of his job, Kohlmann said he conducts research and collects new data daily. That data includes magazine articles, messages, communication, video or audio recordings of people involved in terrorism.

He testified that over the years, his company has built a database containing 4000 GB of information which they can draw from.

The defense presented their own expert in sociology, to call into question the methodology and formal review process that Kohlmann's work has gone through.

Under defense attorney Maj. Joseph Marcee's questioning, James Richardson, Ph.D., outlined his qualifications including more than 40 years of teaching sociology at a university in Nevada.

Richardson laid the additional work he has done writing published articles, where he described the extensive blind peer review process he went through before getting his work published.

After reviewing Kohlmann's report, Richardson testified that there were several things that surprised him.

He said that Kohlmann's report was not written as a typical scholarly article, in that the piece was not clear on specific factors being tested.

Richardson also pointed out that the prongs Kohlmann used to come up with a profile for a homegrown terrorist were not consistent from case to case.

Richardson said in certain cases where Kohlmann testified as a witness, his expert report only included three prongs, instead of six, leading him to believe that the factors were developed to fit specific facts in a specific case.

Kohlmann responded by saying that his factors were identical from case to case.

Following the testimony, the defense argued that Kohlmann's testimony, if approved for trial, would not provide any real analysis.

According to Marcee, the prosecution has said Kohlmann's testimony was needed to prove motive which the defense said is evident in itself without an expert.

The judge withheld his ruling on the matter.

Defense motion for change of venue

Several other motions were taken up, including a defense motion for a change of venue for Hasan's court-martial, as well as a change in the makeup of the military panel or jury. The defense requested that the panel be made up of members of a different branch of the military.

The defense argued that with all of the media coverage and attention the case has received, it would be impossible for Hasan to get a fair trial at Fort Hood.

Because of all of the negative attention, defense attorney Lt. Col. Kris Poppe argued that there is presumed prejudice of the potential panel members.

Lead prosecutor Col. Mike Mulligan argued that the defense's attempt to go after presumed prejudice was like 'chasing ghosts.'

"At the end of the day we need to put 12 men and women in a box that will give him a fair trial, not that lived under a rock or a cave," Mulligan said.

Poppe also pointed out the extra security changes made to the outside of the courthouse, which he said could impact potential panel members.

In preparation for the upcoming court-martial, more than 180 shipping containers have been stacked up, in some locations three high surrounding the courthouse.

Poppe described the appearance of the stacked containers as that similar to what service members may have seen in Iraq or Afghanistan at a Forward Operating Base (FOB).

In the end, Judge Gross denied the defense's motion.

The defense also asked the judge to reconsider a ruling to deny a delay of the trial.

They requested that the Aug. 20 court martial date be pushed back by 50 days to Oct. 9.

The defense contended that they have not had enough time to go through all of the evidence, including 16,000 pages of evidence which includes Hasan's medical records.

The judge reserved his ruling on the issue.

Another hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

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