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Mental evaluation of suspected Fort Hood shooter begins

From Charley Keyes, CNN
  • His attorney, John Galligan, continues to object to the evaluation
  • He says it should wait until he and Nisan receive evidence he says is being kept secret
  • A report from a Senate committee may be released soon, a spokeswoman says

Washington (CNN) -- A mental evaluation of Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009, has begun, his attorney said Tuesday.

John Galligan, confirmed that, despite his objections, the evaluation by a panel of military mental health experts is under way in Texas and is set to continue Wednesday.

Galligan had argued that the psychiatric evaluation should have been delayed until he and Nisan received evidence that he says is still being kept secret by the Defense Department and the White House about what was known about Hasan prior to the November 5, 2009, massacre.

"They should not be conducting this mental evaluation before all the relevant information is available," Galligan said.

Members of Congress also have been seeking additional information about what federal intelligence officials knew of Hasan and how he was evaluated and promoted by his commanding officers.

Leslie Phillips, a spokeswoman for Sen. Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said he hopes to release a report next week.

An Army colonel who presided over an evidentiary hearing in the Hasan case recommended late last month that it move forward to a court martial with a possible death penalty for Hasan. The Army prosecutors put up dozens of witnesses, several of whom pointed to Hasan and identified him as the person responsible for killing 13 people and wounding 32.

Galligan, a former military lawyer and judge, continues to be extremely critical of how the case is being handled. "This is the worst example of military justice I've seen in my career," he said in a telephone interview. "This thing is all being scripted from Washington."

He is not allowed to be present during the evaluation sessions, being held at a civilian jail near Fort Hood.

"They don't mind examining his mind but they don't want to examine his existing medical problems," he said. The attorney has been a vocal critic of the care of Hasan, who was shot and paralyzed from the chest down by police who responded to the mass shooting.