Military Ordered Soldier To Delete Video Of Fort Hood Attack

A US soldier who captured a deadly 2009 rampage at Fort Hood with his cell phone camera testified Friday that he was ordered to erase the video by his commanders.

In the on-going prosecution of Major Nidal Hassan for the murder of thirteen soldiers in 2009 at Fort Hood, we learned yesterday that key evidence was destroyed:

FORT HOOD, Texas — A US soldier who captured a deadly 2009 rampage at Fort Hood with his cell phone camera testified Friday that he was ordered to erase the video by his commanders.

The video could have provided key evidence at the trial of Major Nidal Hasan, a US Army psychiatrist who faces 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder.

But it may not be necessary for prosecutors. They presented more than two dozen witnesses who identified Hasan as the shooter, in the first three days of what is expected to be a lengthy hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence for a court martial.

It’s unclear exactly what the video showed, and Hassan’s guilt is pretty much undisputed.

John Cole asks what would have motivated the soldier’s superiors to order him to delete the videos, and I’ve got to agree. In civilian courts, both civil and criminal, destruction of evidence is a fairly serious offense and can sometimes lead to the dismissal of charges or, in the civil context, the adoption of a presumption that the evidence would have benefited the opposing party. I’m not sure what the consequences of such action in a court martial would be, but I would hope that they would be fairly serious.

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FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Military Affairs, Quick Takes
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Franklin says:

    Devil’s advocate: At some point it would have presumably gone public and could have been used by the enemy for propaganda.

  2. RGardner says:

    You had a ~21 year old telling a 19-year old, both in panic, to erase it in the heat of the moment . Not some military conspiracy with 4-star generals in the evil pentagon controlling their action. Just an ignorant slightly superior enlisted man (or could have been a butter bars, but wasn’t.). Like the assistant manager of the local McDonald’s doesn’t speak for the corporation.

  3. mike says:

    depends on the intent – possibly obstruction of justice – probably here it was just shear stupidity.

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