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Fort Hood: If Nidal Malik Hasan talks, will he live?

Prosecutors could throw Fort Hood shooter, Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, a lifeline in exchange for intelligence if any links to terrorist groups are confirmed.

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Investigators are also reportedly looking into whether Hasan wired money to Pakistan in the days before the attack.

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The wire transfer issue is potentially explosive, says McAvoy, because a common practice of the 9/11 terrorists was to live cheaply and wire all extra income back to their Al Qaeda handlers. The notion of an Army doctor getting paid nearly $100,000 a year while living in a squalid $350 apartment fits that profile, says McAvoy.

Reports about the money transfer come from Rep. Peter Hoestra (R) of Michigan, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, who told Fox News that some intelligence analysts are increasingly concerned about a terrorism connection. "They think it's a real lead," he said.

The fact that the case has moved so quickly to a federal military court – which would preclude a civilian prosecution in another federal court at a later date – is disturbing to some analysts, including McAvoy.

A military court martial may leave unanswered many questions about terrorist ties since court martials tend to focus on details of the crime and not motive, says Scott Silliman, executive director of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security at Duke University in Durham, N.C.

Still, a death penalty immunity deal in exchange for information is possible, he adds.

"The way it would possibly work out is [Hasan's] lawyers would approach the government attorney who represents the commander, and say, 'We are prepared to cooperate in the investigation if you agree that even if the jury awards the death sentence, the commander will not approve it,' " says Mr. Silliman.

How any evidence of terrorism would play into the quickly moving court martial of Hasan is unclear. The Army psychiatrist cannot be questioned by the Army Criminal Investigation Division until he's declared mentally able to stand trial. At that point, Hasan could waive his right to remain silent to talk directly to investigators.

The Senate's Homeland Security Committee is planning hearings on the investigation next week.


See also:

Fort Hood suspect: Portrait of a terrorist?

Fort Hood update: 13 murder charges, Obama orders investigation.


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