November 11, 2009

Wolf Blitzer apparently has some trouble understanding what the notion of due process means or he would not even be asking questions like this. I think Maj. Hasan's lawyer Ret. Colonel John Galligan handled it pretty well.

Transcript via CNN.

BLITZER: You spent 30 years active duty in the United States military. You retired, what, back in 2001? A lot of folks, when they heard I was interviewing you, they asked me how could a retired U.S. military officer, a full colonel, go ahead and represent someone accused of mass murder? And I want you to explain to our viewers why you're doing this.

GALLIGAN: Wolf, I will tell you what I have told consistently anyone who asks that same question, and that is as a military -- former military JAG officer, former military judge, former prosecutor, former defense counsel, and now currently actively involved, also, in the civilian practice of criminal defense work, I fully appreciate the importance of ensuring that everybody has a fair trial. I think that's particularly important when it applies to anyone in uniform, officer or enlisted.

Their profession is to defend us. We owe it to them as either fellow service members or as U.S. citizens to ensure that we properly defend them.

The rights that I'm asking be accorded to Major Hasan are the rights that service members live and die for. Let's just make sure we don't deprive them in his case.

I also tell people that I'm a firm believer in the military justice process. Sadly, because so few people do serve in the U.S. Army and sister services today, there's an increasing -- a diminishing number of people who really understand the military justice system.

If properly applied, it can ensure that an individual has a fair and just hearing. If allowed to run its course, without being perverted along the way, I'm confident that most people will say we arrived, at the end of the day, with a fair, impartial and just result.

My purpose in representing the major is to ensure that we keep the military justice procedures on track. I've told people it's a great system if it works right, but it's a system that, if you have problems in it or difficulties along the way, be careful, get out of the way.

BLITZER: And you realize he potentially is facing the death penalty?

GALLIGAN: I understand there are a lot of potential variances that could occur in this case. But as I indicated earlier, right now, he's a suspect who has in -- is being represented by counsel, and neither he nor I have been in receipt of anything formal with respect to how the case is going to proceed.

BLITZER: Colonel Galligan, thanks very much for joining us.

GALLIGAN: Thank you very much.

And I'd just encourage all of the listeners on this program and others to join me in ensuring that Major Hasan has a fair and impartial hearing in any forum that ultimately may be assigned to determine the facts in this case.

BLITZER: I'm sure...

GALLIGAN: If we can do that, justice is done.

BLITZER: I'm sure he will get a much fairer hearing than those 13 Americans who were brutally gunned down the other day. I'm sure he will get all of the rights that are applied by the U.S. Military Code of Justice.

Thank you.

GALLIGAN: Well -- OK, thank you. Thank you very much.

BLITZER: All right. Go ahead. If you want to say anything else, go ahead.

GALLIGAN: No, I -- it's -- the difficulty that I have, of course, is when people, in discussions with me, with references like the one that you just made, in the criminal justice field we often are dealing with victims. And the victims, oftentimes, are more than just those that are named on a charge sheet or in an indictment.

We want to make sure that everybody watching the process unfold feels comfortable and confident that it's going to be fair and just. And the minute we try to isolate certain cases in that process and say, well, we can make a judgment before the trial, or assumptions before the trial, I think leads to the wrong result.

BLITZER: Well, I think the point you're making...

GALLIGAN: I'm comfortable...


BLITZER: ... is that whether he's tried by the military or tried by civilian authorities, he's innocent until proven guilty.

That's what you're trying to say, right?

GALLIGAN: Correct. Well, he's cloaked with that presumption. There's a burden of proof upon the government. There are serious issues that have to be examined as we watch all of this unfold, whether it's unfair pretrial publicity, whether he can have a fair trial at a particular location. All of these things are going to unfold over a period of time.

Right now, though, I'm awaiting the medical physicians and attendants at BAMC to assure me that my participation, my involvement, my presence with my client would not in any way detract from his ability to make a, hopefully, speedy recovery, as I wish for all of the people that have been affected by these tragic events.

BLITZER: As all of us do. We hope that all of those who are still in hospital and suffering will make a speedy recovery as well.

Colonel Galligan, thanks very much.

GALLIGAN: All right.

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