What do Nidal Malik Hasan, Timothy McVeigh and the Beltway Sniper have in common?
They all were scarred by war, says Nora Eisenberg, at AlterNet. In regard to the Beltway Sniper for instance:
Consider the case of John Allen Muhammad, (formerly John Allen Williams). In her recently published memoir, Scared Silent, Mildred Muhammad, the later of his two ex-wives, writes that her husband, a sergeant with the Army’s 84th Engineer Company, went to the 1991 Gulf War a “happy,” “focused, and “intelligent” man, who returned home “depressed,” “totally confused,” and “violent,” making her fear for her life. On appeal, Muhammad’s lawyers stressed that his “severe mental illness” never came up at trial, where he was allowed to represent himself despite his obvious mental incompetence. His attorneys’ brief included psychiatric reports diagnosing Schizophrenia and brain scans documenting profound malformations consistent with psychotic disease.
Their petitions failed to impress the U.S. Supreme Court or Virginia Governor Tim Kaine — a declared death penalty opponent–and one day before Veterans Day, John Allen Muhammad was executed by lethal injection. (Till the end, he maintained his innocence, claiming to his lawyers that at the time of the killing spree he was in Germany for dental work.)
If we factor in war wounds — mental wounds, what we used to call “battle fatigue” — when reviewing the heinous actions of these men, we have to change the conversation a bit, don’t we?