Death Penalty Extremely Rare in Military
Hasan could become first to be executed by military since 1961
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 12, 2009 5:49 AM CST
President Obama walks through grave markers in during an unannounced visit to Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., yesterday.   (Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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(Newser) – Nidal Hasan could face the death penalty for the Fort Hood shootings, but he will be prosecuted in a military justice system where no one has been executed in nearly 50 years. He may also benefit from protections the military provides defendants that are greater than those offered in civilian federal courts."Our military justice system is not bloodthirsty. That's clear," a Yale law professor tells AP.

Much about Hasan's case will be decided by a senior Army officer, including whether to seek the death penalty. His jury will consist of at least 12 officers of higher rank than Hasan. Before a military execution can be carried out, the president must personally approve it. No president since Dwight Eisenhower had done so before George W. Bush signed an execution order last year for a former Army cook who was convicted of multiple rapes and murders in the 1980s—an order that was stayed to allow for a new round of appeals.