Well, look at it this way. AQ’s training for 9/11 was sort of a “research project” too.

Awlaki claims that Hasan initiated the e-mail correspondence with a message on Dec. 17, 2008. “He was asking about killing U.S. soldiers and officers,” said Awlaki. “His question was is it legitimate [under Islamic law].”

The Al Jazeera questioner asks for confirmation that Hasan forwarded this query nearly a year before the shooting.

“Yes,” responds Awlaki. “I am astonished. Where was American intelligence that claimed once that it can read any car plate number anywhere in the world?”

Hasan and Awlaki exchanged as many as 18 e-mails in the year prior to the shooting. As ABC News had previously reported exclusively, Hasan had discussed martyrdom with Awlaki, asking when jihad is appropriate, and whether it is permissible if there are innocents killed in a suicide attack. Hasan also told Awlaki he looked forward to seeing him in the afterlife and sharing non-alcoholic wine.

Aulaqi has every motive to lie, but in light of all the red flags and ABC’s corroborating evidence, anyone want to bet against his version at this point? Meanwhile, the burning legal issue in the case right now is whether it’s a violation of Hasan’s rights to forbid him from speaking Arabic over the phone.

One silver lining: Big media has, it seems, decided that there was more to Hasan’s “Allahu Akbar” cannonade than PTSD.