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Staff Sgt. Robert Bales Sentenced in Afghan Slayings
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  1. #1
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    Staff Sgt. Robert Bales Sentenced in Afghan Slayings

    BALANDI, Afghanistan (AP) — Moving from house to house, a U.S. Army sergeant opened fire Sunday on Afghan villagers as they slept, killing 16 people — mostly women and children — in an attack that reignited fury at the U.S. presence following a wave of deadly protests over Americans burning Qurans.

    The attack threatened the deepest breach yet in U.S.-Afghan relations, raising questions both in Washington and Kabul about why American troops are still fighting in Afghanistan after 10 years of conflict and the killing of Osama bin Laden.

    The slayings, the worst atrocity committed by U.S. forces during the Afghan war, came amid deepening public outrage spurred by last month's Quran burnings and an earlier video purportedly showing American Marines urinating on dead Taliban militants.

    The Quran burnings sparked weeks of violent protests and attacks that left some 30 Afghans dead, despite an apology from President Barack Obama. Six U.S. service members were also killed by their fellow Afghan soldiers, although the tensions had just started to calm down.

    According to U.S. and Afghan officials, Sunday's attack began around 3 a.m. in two villages in Panjwai district, a rural region outside Kandahar that is the cradle of the Taliban and where coalition forces have fought for control for years. The villages are about 500 yards (meters) from a U.S. base in a region that was the focus of Obama's military surge strategy in the south starting in 2009.

    Villagers described cowering in fear as gunshots rang out as a soldier roamed from house to house firing on those inside. They said he entered three homes in all and set fire to some of the bodies. Eleven of the dead were from a single family, and nine of the victims were children.

    U.S. officials said the shooter, identified as an Army staff sergeant, acted alone, leaving his base in southern Afghanistan and opening fire on sleeping families in two villages. Initial reports indicated he returned to the base after the shooting and turned himself in. He was in custody at a NATO base in Afghanistan.

    The suspect, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., was assigned to support a special operations unit of either Green Berets or Navy SEALs engaged in a village stability operation, said a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still ongoing.

    Such operations are among NATO's best hopes for transitioning out of Afghanistan, pairing special operations troops with villagers chosen by village elders to become essentially a sanctioned, armed neighborhood watch.

    Some residents said they believed there were multiple attackers, given the carnage.

    "One man can't kill so many people. There must have been many people involved," Bacha Agha of Balandi village told The Associated Press. "If the government says this is just one person's act we will not accept it. ... After killing those people they also burned the bodies."

    In a statement, Afghan President Hamid Karzai left open the possibility of more than one shooter. He initially spoke of a single U.S. gunman, then referred to "American forces" entering houses. The statement quoted a 15-year-old survivor named Rafiullah, who was shot in the leg, as telling Karzai in a phone call that "soldiers" broke into his house, woke up his family and began shooting them.

    "This is an assassination, an intentional killing of innocent civilians and cannot be forgiven," Karzai said.

    Obama phoned the Afghan leader to express his shock and sadness, and offered condolences to the grieving families and to the people of Afghanistan.

    In a statement released by the White House, Obama called the attack "tragic and shocking" and not representative of "the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan." He vowed "to get the facts as quickly as possible and to hold accountable anyone responsible."

    The violence over the Quran burnings had already spurred calls in the U.S. for a faster exit strategy from the 10-year-old Afghan war. Obama even said recently that "now is the time for us to transition." But he also said he had no plan to change the current timetable that has Afghans taking control of security countrywide by the end of 2014.

    In the wake of the Quran burnings, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, visited troops at a base that was attacked last month and urged them not to give in to the impulse for revenge.

    The tensions between the two countries had appeared to be easing as recently as Friday, when the two governments signed a memorandum of understanding about the transfer of Afghan detainees to Afghan control — a key step toward an eventual strategic partnership to govern U.S. forces in the country.

    Now, another wave of anti-American hatred could threaten the entire future of the mission, fueling not only anger among the Afghans whom the coalition is supposed to be defending but also encouraging doubts among U.S. political figures that the long and costly war is worth the sacrifice in lives and treasury.

    "This is a fatal hammer blow on the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan. Whatever sliver of trust and credibility we might have had following the burnings of the Quran is now gone," said David Cortright, the director of policy studies at Notre Dame's Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and an advocate for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan.

    Gen. Allen offered his regret and "deepest condolences" to the Afghan people for the shootings and vowed to make sure that "anyone who is found to have committed wrongdoing is held fully accountable."

    "This deeply appalling incident in no way represents the values of ISAF and coalition troops or the abiding respect we feel for the Afghan people," Allen said in a statement, using the abbreviation for NATO's International Security Assistance Force.

    In Panjwai district on Sunday, grieving residents tried to make sense of why they were targeted.

    "No Taliban were here. No gunbattle was going on," cried out one woman, who said four people were killed in the village of Alokzai, all members of her family. "We don't know why this foreign soldier came and killed our innocent family members. Either he was drunk or he enjoyed killing civilians."

    The other 12 dead were from Balandi village, said Samad Khan, a farmer who lost all 11 members of his family, including women and children. Khan was away from the village when the attack occurred and returned to find his family members shot and burned. One of his neighbors was also killed, he said.

    "This is an anti-human and anti-Islamic act," Khan said. "Nobody is allowed in any religion in the world to kill children and women."

    One woman opened a blue blanket with pink flowers to reveal the body of her 2-year-old child, who was wearing a blood-soaked shirt.

    "Was this child Taliban? There is no Taliban here" said Gul Bushra. The Americans "are always threatening us with dogs and helicopters during night raids."

    Dozens of villagers crowded the streets as minibuses and trucks carried away the dead to be washed for burial. One man used the edge of his brown shawl to wipe away tears.

    Officials wearing white plastic gloves picked up bullet casings from the floor of a house and put them in a plastic bag.

    An AP photographer saw 15 bodies in the two villages, some of them burned and other covered with blankets. A young boy partially wrapped in a blanket was in the back of a minibus, dried blood crusted on his face and pooled in his ear. His loose-fitting brown pants were partly burned, revealing a leg charred by fire.

    It was unclear how or why the bodies were burned, though villagers showed journalists the blood-stained corner of a house where blankets and possibly bodies were set on fire.

    International forces have fought for control of Panjwai for years, trying to subdue the Taliban in their rural strongholds. The Taliban movement started just to the north of Panjwai and many of the militant group's senior leaders, including chief Mullah Mohammed Omar, were born, raised, fought or preached in the area.

    The district has also been a key Taliban base for targeting neighboring Kandahar city and U.S. forces flooded the province as part of Obama's strategy to surge in the south starting in 2009.

    The Taliban called the shootings the latest sign that international forces are working against the Afghan people.

    "The so-called American peacekeepers have once again quenched their thirst with the blood of innocent Afghan civilians in Kandahar province," the Taliban said in a statement posted on a website used by the insurgent group.

    U.S. forces have been implicated before in other violence in the same area.

    Four soldiers from a Stryker brigade out of Lewis-McChord, Washington, have been sent to prison in connection with the 2010 killing of three unarmed men during patrols in Kandahar province's Maiwand district, which is just northwest of Panjwai. They were accused of forming a "kill team" that murdered Afghan civilians for sport — slaughtering victims with grenades and powerful machine guns during patrols, then dropping weapons near their bodies to make them appear to have been combatants.

    Obama has apologized for the Quran burnings and said they were a mistake. The Qurans and other Islamic books were taken from a detention facility and dumped in a burn pit last month because they were believed to contain extremist messages or inscriptions. A military official said at the time that it appeared detainees were exchanging messages by making notations in the texts.



    Itll be interesting to see where he goes on trial. Another point Im wondering about is that none of the afghanian officials who are outraged about this crime from a (maybe) insane person had any words about all the terror acts commited by taliban "fighters". I think much more innocent people had been murdered by them.
    No murder can be so cruel that there are not still useful imbeciles who do gloss over the murderer and apologize.

  2. #2
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    We are never going to know what really happened.
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

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    The American soldier who is accused in a massacre of 16 villagers near Kandahar could face the death penalty, a military defense attorney said Monday, in one of the worst cases of mass murder by a U.S. service member since the Vietnam War.

    U.S. officials have said the soldier acted alone, leaving his base in southern Afghanistan and opening fire on sleeping families. After the massacre, he went back to his base and turned himself in.

    The military will not identify the American soldier until charges are filed, Pentagon spokesman William Speaks told msnbc.com on Monday. The suspect remains in Afghanistan while the attack is being investigated.
    According to military officials, the soldier will be tried within the military justice system, not turned over to Afghan authorities for trial, rebuffing a call from Afghan lawmakers to use their courts.

    Report: US soldier who massacred 16 Afghans was from Stryker brigade

    The suspect is based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state. He has been identified as a staff sergeant in the Stryker brigade who was taking part in a village stability operation in Afghanistan. He is a 38-year-old married father of two on his first deployment to Afghanistan after three previous deployments in Iraq.

    "Based on what were hearing I suspect this will be prosecuted as a death penalty case," Philip Cave, a Washington-based military defense attorney told msnbc.com. "Youve got felony murder, and certainly the number of victims and the circumstances very young children as victims I think there will be sufficient grounds to move forward as a death penalty case."

    Before charges are filed, the soldier will likely undergo heavy psychological testing as part of the investigation, Cave said. Then an Article 32 investigation -- a thorough examination of the case with testimony from witnesses -- will be conducted before any court martial proceedings. If convicted at court-martial with the death penalty imposed and all appeal exhausted, the president of the United States himself would have to sign the death warrant for the soldier's execution.

    Retired Army platoon sergeant Jonn Lilyea, a Desert Storm veteran who writes the blog "This Aint Hell" told msnbc.com he expects the military to make an example out of the shooter as the case moves through the justice system.

    Mourning, anger sweep Afghanistan after massacre

    Still, Lilyea cautioned that people should not rush to blame the killings on the soldiers deployments during the wars in Iraq in Afghanistan.

    "Id wait to see if he really was in a position that would have affected him in this way," Lilyea said. "But Im more concerned people will try to use this like they did after Vietnam with the My Lai massacre and taint all combat veterans of this generation as if they were like this one guy." Millions of Americans have served in combat, seen and done "terrible things," but have gone on to normal productive lives after their service, Lilyea pointed out.

    Lt. William Calley was convicted of killing 22 villagers in My Lai village in 1968 in an incident that heightened U.S. opposition to the Vietnam War.

    If the number of people slain in the attack is confirmed at 16, and the soldier is convicted, the mass killings would be the most of any convicted killer on the militarys death row, which currently has six inmates.

    Major Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, is accused of killing 13 people in killing spree at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009. He also faces a possible death penalty. His trial was scheduled to begin this month but was delayed until June to allow his defense more time to prepare for the case.

    John Bennet was the last U.S. solider to be executed by the military. He was hanged in 1961 after being convicted of the rape and attempted murder of an 11-year-old Australian girl.

    Lethal injection is the current method of execution under military justice, according to military defense lawyer Cave.

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    Afghan Taliban threaten to behead U.S. soldiers; government team attacked

    (Reuters) -

    By Rob Taylor and Mirwais Harooni

    KABUL (Reuters) - Suspected insurgents fired on an Afghan government delegation on Tuesday investigating the massacre of 16 civilians by a U.S. soldier, officials said, hours after the Taliban threatened to behead American troops to avenge the killings.

    Two of President Hamid Karzai's brothers, Shah Wali Karzai and Addul Qayum Karzai, were with senior defense, intelligence and interior ministry officials travelling to the scene of the massacre in Najiban and Alekozai villages, in Kandahar's Panjwai district, when insurgents opened fire.

    Karzai's brothers were unharmed in the brief gunbattle during meetings at a village mosque, but a soldier and a civilian were wounded. The area is a Taliban stronghold and a supply route.

    "The Islamic Emirate once again warns the American animals that the mujahideen will avenge them, and with the help of Allah will kill and behead your sadistic murderous soldiers," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement, using the term with which the Islamist group describes itself.

    As the first protest broke out in Jalalabad city over the weekend shootings, the Taliban said Afghan government demands for an open trial of the U.S. Army staff sergeant being held for the slayings would not blunt civilian hostility towards Western combat troops.

    The unnamed U.S. soldier - said to have only recently arrived in the country - is accused of walking off his base in Kandahar province in the middle of the night and gunning down at least 16 villagers, mostly women and children.

    A U.S. official said the accused soldier had suffered a traumatic brain injury while on a previous deployment in Iraq.

    The shootings, which came just weeks after deadly protests across the country over the inadvertent burning of Korans by U.S. soldiers, triggered a protest by around 2,000 students in the eastern city of Jalalabad.

    The demonstrators chanted "Death to America" and demanded Afghan President Hamid Karzai reject plans to sign a strategic pact with Washington that would allow U.S. advisers and possibly special forces to remain in the country beyond the planned withdrawal in 2014.

    U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking after a phone call with Karzai - who is said to be furious over the latest deaths - said the shootings had only increased his determination to get American troops out of Afghanistan.

    However, Obama cautioned there should not be a "rush to the exits" for U.S. forces who have been fighting in Afghanistan since late 2001 and that the drawdown set for the end of 2014 should be done in a responsible way.

    The soldier, from a conventional unit, was based at a joint U.S.-Afghan base used by elite U.S. troops under a so-called village support programme hailed by NATO as a possible model for U.S. involvement in the country after the 2014 drawdown.

    Such bases provide support to local Afghan security units and provide a source of security advice and training, as well as anti-insurgent backup and intelligence.


    A spokesman for Kandahar governor Tooryalai Wisa said that tribal elders in the area of the massacre would urge against protests and work to dampen public anger if the investigation process was transparent.

    "They are supporting the government and will accept any conclusion by the investigators. Today we have meetings with people in the area and all will become clear," spokesman Ahmad Jawid Faisal said.

    NATO officials said it was too early to tell if the U.S. soldier would be tried in the United States or Afghanistan if investigators were to find enough evidence to charge him, but he would be under U.S. laws and procedures under an agreement between U.S. and Afghan officials.

    Typically, once the initial investigation is completed, prosecutors decide if they have enough evidence to file charges and then could move to an Article 32 or court martial hearing.

    U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Monday that the death penalty could be sought in the U.S. military justice system against the soldier, but portrayed the shooting as an isolated event that would not alter withdrawal plans.

    While Afghan MPs in parliament called for a trial under Afghan law, Karzai's office was understood to accept that a trial in a U.S. court would be acceptable provided the process was transparent and open to media.

    Analysts said the incident would complicate U.S. efforts to reach agreement with the Afghan government on a post-2014 security pact before a May summit in the U.S. city of Chicago on the future size and funding of Afghan security forces.

    Thomas Ruttig of the Afghanistan Analysts Network said that despite NATO and White House references to the killings as the work of a "rogue" soldier, other similar events had happened before, including a "kill team" apprehended in Kandahar in 2010.

    "In the stress of an environment of escalated violence - by both sides, but particularly after Obama's troop surge in early 2009, it looks as if most soldiers simply see Afghanistan as a whole as ?enemy territory' and every Afghan as a potential terrorist. This can no longer be called ?rogue'," Ruttig said.

    NATO's top commander in Afghanistan, Marine General John Allen, has promised a rapid investigation of the massacre, while security was being reviewed at NATO bases across the country.

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    Taliban fire on massacre memorial service

    Taliban militants opened fire on senior officials from the Afghan government and military at a memorial service for 16 civilians thought to have been shot dead in their homes by a US soldier.

    The service, held in one of the villages where the American father-of-two went on his alleged rampage, was packed with senior officials, including two brothers of the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, the army's chief of staff, Sher Mohammad Karimi, and the provincial governor and police chief of Kandahar.

    "Everyone was in the mosque when it happened, and suddenly the police and other security people went to return fire," said Abdul Rahim Ayoubi, the MP for Kandahar, who was part of the group.
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    "All our delegation is OK. They were shooting from a long way away," he added.

    Four members of the security forces were injured in the attack, but no one was killed, said Jawed Faisal, spokesman for the Kandahar provincial government.

    The delegation had lingered after the service to discuss prosecution of the suspect and compensation for survivors. The shooting happened as they were preparing to return to nearby Kandahar city, Ayoubi said.

    The group of high-profile officials would have made a tempting target for insurgents, but the attack on a service for massacred civilians also underlines how precarious life is for ordinary Afghans caught between two sides in a long and bitter war.

    Earlier, about 2,000 people joined a protest against the killings in the eastern city of Jalalabad, shouting "Death to America" and burning the US flag. Demonstrators led by students from the provincial university blocked the highway to Kabul, the provincial governor's spokesman, Ahmad Zia Ahmadzai, said.

    The protesters demanded that the killer be tried in Afghanistan, and called for a halt to negotiations on a long-term strategic partnership between Kabul and Washington.

    The US defence secretary, Leon Panetta, said prosecutors within the US military justice system could seek the death penalty for the killer.

    Most of the victims were women and children, and the attack has triggered angry calls from Afghans for an immediate US exit, and prompted questions in the west over the military mission.

    As concerns mounted that the killings could derail the international military strategy, Panetta and other western leaders, however, attempted to portray the shooting as an isolated event that would not alter plans for a gradual withdrawal of US combat forces by the end of 2014.

    The killings on Sunday were "inexplicable," said the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, who insisted that they would not force a change of course.

    The massacre also came just days after the death of six British soldiers in a huge bomb blast took the death toll of UK troops over the 400 mark, renewing concerns in Britain about the cost of the war.

    The British prime minister, David Cameron, and Barack Obama are to meet today (14MAR) to agree tentative plans for British and US troops to end their "lead combat role" in Afghanistan by the middle of next year.

    Amid fears among Nato commanders in Afghanistan that the troop "draw-down" may be moving too rapidly, the two leaders will discuss plans for British and US troops to move to a support and training role by the middle of 2013.

    All Nato troops except those involved in training Afghan forces are due to be withdrawn by the end of 2014.

    The White House talks on Afghanistan come amid warnings from Nato's International Security and Assistance Force (Isaf) that it would be wrong for a change in western military tactics to be accompanied by an accelerated withdrawal.

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    Soldier Accused In Killings Heads To Kansas Base

    The American staff sergeant accused of killing 16 Afghans was on his way to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, on Friday, his attorney told CNN.

    The soldier has been in protective custody in Kuwait and was expected to arrive at Fort Leavenworth on Friday afternoon, said the soldier's civilian attorney, John Henry Browne.

    Browne said he had spoken with his client Thursday and he seemed distant, like a deer in the headlights. Their conversation was curt because Browne said he did not believe the phone lines were secure.

    But he said he was wary of why the soldier was deployed to Afghanistan after three tours of Iraq left him with mental and physical injury.

    The soldier lost part of a foot in Iraq and suffered a traumatic brain injury. Browne said the screening for the concussion was minimal. The soldier was told that his brigade would not deploy again but that changed suddenly and he arrived at the base in Kandahar province not too long ago.

    "I am confused why they would send him back to Afghanistan," Browne said. "There was no 'maybe he shouldn't go' discussion."

    According to conversations he has had with his client's family in recent days, the attorney said the soldier did not want to deploy to Afghanistan.

    "He was told that he was not going to be redeployed," Browne said. "The family was counting on him not being redeployed. I think it would be fair to say he and the family were not happy that he was going back."

    Browne, a well-known Seattle defense attorney, was asked by the soldier's family to represent him. He said he had reservations about taking on the case, given security concerns.

    In his 30 years as a lawyer, Browne has taken on several high-profile cases, including serial killer Ted Bundy and the so-called Barefoot Bandit.

    In describing his latest client, Browne painted a picture of a decorated, career soldier who joined the military after the 2011 terrorist attacks and has spent all his Army life at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington. Browne called him a devoted husband and father to his two young children who never made any derogatory remarks about Muslims or Afghans.

    Browne said he was offended by media reports that marital discord played a role in the events that unfolded in Kandahar province villages near the small combat outpost where the soldier was stationed. He said those reports were "nonsense."

    He said he did not know whether alcohol was involved but imagined that "stress was a factor." Who would not be under stress in a combat zone, he asked.

    "For God's sake, who is not going to be under stress in Afghanistan in a small camp where there is 20 people in the middle of nowhere?" Browne said.

    He also said that the day before the slayings, another soldier on that base had his leg shot off in front of the suspect.

    "That affected the whole base," Browne said.

    The suspect, whose identity the military has withheld, has not yet been formally charged.

    Charges could come within a matter of weeks in what Browne called more of a political case than a legal one.

    "This is an international event, and it's a very touchy event for our government and for other governments," he said.

    "It's not just a normal criminal case that we deal with, and we understand that. We understand our government's concern about it, and we certainly understand the concern of Afghanistan and its people. This (is) a pretty huge case from the standpoint of ramifications."

    The soldier is accused of leaving the remote outpost of Camp Belambay on foot early Sunday and heading to neighboring villages in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province.

    In the villages, the soldier opened fire, killing nine children, three women and four men, witnesses and Afghan authorities said. The U.S. military has not confirmed the number of casualties.

    The military is withholding the soldier's identity out of possible fear of retaliation, and the soldier's family has been moved on to Lewis-McChord, Browne said.

    "There is great concern about their security. It could be weeks before his identity is revealed," he said. "We are doing everything the government is asking us to do to protect his identity."

    Browne also confirmed reports the soldier could face the death penalty.

    "There is a discussion of the death penalty, understandably, I think, in this situation, which makes us very nervous. It's certainly not off the table at this point. Our hope is that maybe it will be," he said.

    "We don't know anything about (his) state of mind. We don't know anything about the facts of the case, and whether they can prove what he's accused of."

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    Staff Sgt. Robert Bales Could Be Charged in Massacre Today

    Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is expected to formally charged with the murder of 16 Afghan civilians, possibly as early as today, after arriving at the military detection facility in Fort Leavenworth.

    The combat veteran was flown overnight from a jail cell in Kuwait to the military prison in Kansas as his neighbors reacted with shock at the news.

    Bales, 38 and the father of two, is accused of breaking into several Afghan homes in the middle of the night last Sunday and killing 16 civilians, mostly women and children. He could face the death penalty if found guilty.

    Kassie Holland, a neighbor in Lake Tapp, Wash., where Bales lived, told the Associated Press that she would see him playing with his two kids.

    "My reaction is that I'm shocked," she said. "I can't believe it was him. There were no signs... He always had a good attitude about being in the service. He was never really angry about it. When I heard him talk, he said, it seemed like, yeah, that's my job. That's what I do. He never expressed a lot of emotion toward it."

    Pentagon officials said that Bales' being brought back to the U.S. does not necessarily mean that his military court procedings will be held in the U.S., holding out the possibility that they could be held in Afghanistan. The Afghan government is demanding that Bales be tried in Afghanistan.

    Details of Bales' military record have also emerged and they depict a soldier who has seen intense combat and lost part of a foot.

    Bales, who enlisted shortly after the 9/11 terror attacks, was first deployed in November 2003 when his unit spent a year in Mosul, Iraq.

    In June 2006 he and his unit were sent back to Iraq and their year-long deployment was given a three month extension until September 2007. During that time, he saw duty in Mosul in the north, Bagdad when the city was pressed by militants, and then to Baquba where his unit took major casualties.

    His final Iraq deployment was from September 2009 to September 2010 in Diyala province, which was also a hotbed of insurgent activity.

    In December 2011, he was ordered to Afghanistan.

    Bales' alleged murderous rage is in stark contrast to what he said after a fierce battle in Zarqa, Iraq, in 2007.

    "I've never been more proud to be a part of this unit than that day for the simple fact that we discriminated between the bad guys and the noncombatants and then afterward we ended up helping the people that three or four hours before were trying to kill us," he told Fort Lewis' Northwest Guardian.

    "I think that's the real difference between being an American as opposed to being a bad guy, someone who puts his family in harm's way like that," Bales said at the time.

    John Henry Browne, Bales' lawyer in Seattle, told The Associated Press Thursday that the soldier had witnessed his friend's leg blown off the day before the massacre.

    Bales reportedly spent his entire 11-year career at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state and lived not too far from the base. Originally from the Midwest, he was deployed with the Second Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division in December.

    Browne said that he was highly decorated and had once been nominated for a Bronze Star though he did not receive it. He also lost part of a foot because of a combat injury.

    "He's never said anything antagonistic about Muslims. He's in general very mild-mannered," Browne told the AP.

    Bales reportedly left Camp Belambay, where he was stationed to protect Special Operation Forces creating local militias, in the middle of the night wearing night-vision goggles, according to a source. The shooting occurred at 3 a.m. in three houses in two villages in the Panjway district of southern Kandahar province.

    Full article here http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/sgt-ro...5#.T2R8TVFX-uI
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    Bales' lawyer has experience in multiple-killing cases

    The lawyer for a U.S. Army sergeant suspected in the horrific nighttime slaughter of 16 Afghan villagers flew to Kansas on Sunday to meet with his client as formal charges against the 10-year veteran loomed within days.

    John Henry Browne of Seattle said he plans to meet Monday with Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the Norwood native who is being held in an isolated cell at the maximum security military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

    Charges against Bales, 38, are expected to be filed within a week. If the case goes to court, the trial is expected to be will be held in the United States.

    Browne, 65, has a history of defending clients in multiple homicide cases, including serial killer Ted Bundy and mass murderer Benjamin Ng.

    He seems to thrive on controversial cases, and he gets good outcomes for his clients, said Richard Hansen, whom Browne hired in 1976 to work as a public defender in Seattle.

    During his 40 years as an lawyer, Browne, who was the chief trial lawyer in the King County Office of the Public Defender in Seattle before going into private practice, has represented arsonists, a shoeless airplane thief and a man accused of killing a celebrity dog trainer.

    A legal expert with the U.S. military familiar with the Bales investigation said charges were still being decided and that the location for any trial had not yet been determined. If the suspect is brought to trial, it is possible that Afghan witnesses and victims would be flown to the United States to participate, he said.

    But first, the soldier will have a preliminary hearing, where a military judge will decide whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed with a court-martial, said Eugene Fidell, former president of the National Institute of Military Justice who teaches military justice classes at Yale University. There is no bail in military proceedings, he said.

    Military law includes a death penalty. A handful of military prisoners are on death row, but no one has been executed since 1961.

    The last soldier executed by the military was Army private John Arthur Bennett,, who was convicted of raping and attempting to murder an 11-year-old Austrian girl, was executed by hanging in 1961.

    No one can be executed without the affirmative personal approval of the president, Fidell said.

    Browne graduated from American University School of Law in 1971, according to his law firms website. He worked as an assistant attorney general in Washington state before joining the public defenders office in 1975.

    Last year, Browne represented airplane thief Colton Harris-Moore, known as the Barefoot Bandit because he committed some of his crimes while not wearing shoes. Moore pleaded guilty to the plane theft and other charges and is serving a 6 -year prison sentence.

    Bundy assaulted or killed three dozen women across the U.S., according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He was one of the FBIs 10 most wanted fugitives when he was caught in February 1978. He was executed in Florida in 1989.

    Browne was counsel for Benjamin Ng, who was convicted in the killing of 13 people in Seattle in 1983. Ng was spared a death sentence.

    Browne also represented Michiel Oakes, who was convicted of killing Mark Stover, a dog trainer who worked for Starbucks Corp. Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz and Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki. Oakes got a 26 -year sentence in 2010, the Seattle Times reported.

    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

  9. #9
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Wife Of Soldier Accused Of Killing Afghans Speaks

    The wife of the US soldier held over the murder of 16 Afghan villagers has said what she has seen in reports was "completely out of character of the man I know and admire".

    Karilyn Bales also offered condolences to the victims' families and said she too wants to know what happened.

    She issued a statement through a Seattle lawyer, for the first time offering her comments on a case that has threatened to upend American policy over the decade-old war.

    Her husband, Staff Sgt Robert Bales of Lake Tapps, Washington, is being detained at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. He has not yet been charged.

    It comes as reports suggest Bales is likely to be formally charged in the next few days.

    The 38-year-old is suspected of leaving his base in the Panjwayi district of Kandahar province on the night of March 11 to commit the killings, which included nine children.

    He allegedly set several of their bodies on fire.

    The soldier - who prosecutors say returned to his base and turned himself in to authorities after the incident - faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted.

    Under the US military justice system, prosecutors draft charges to be filed against an accused soldier, then present them to his unit commander, who must then decide whether there is enough evidence to believe a crime was committed.

    If so, the commander signs the charging documents so that the case can be "preferred" for formal prosecution.

    The attack sent US-Afghan relations into deep crisis, with Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai stating that international forces should leave villages in his country.

    Bales initially was sent to a military base in Kuwait then transferred to the US military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he is kept in isolation in a cell.

    His lawyer said last week that Bales had recently been under stress, which was heightened when he witnessed a fellow soldier seriously wounded by stepping on a mine.

    The non-commissioned officer, who joined the Army two months after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, served three tours of duty in Iraq and had been in Afghanistan since December.

    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

  10. #10
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    US paid $50,000 per shooting spree death

    The United States has paid $50,000 in compensation for each Afghan killed in the shooting spree attributed to a U.S. soldier in southern Afghanistan, an Afghan official and a community elder said Sunday.

    The families of the dead received the money Saturday at the governor's office, said Kandahar provincial council member Agha Lalai. Each wounded person received $11,000 Lalai said. Community elder Jan Agha confirmed the same figures.

    They were told that the money came from U.S. President Barack Obama, Lalai said.

    A U.S. official confirmed that compensation had been paid but declined to discuss exact amounts, saying only that it reflected the devastating nature of the incident. The official spoke anonymously because of the sensitive nature of the subject.

    A spokesman for NATO and U.S. forces declined to confirm or deny the payments, saying that while coalition members often make compensation payments, they are usually kept private.

    "As the settlement of claims is in most cases a sensitive topic for those who have suffered loss, it is usually a matter of agreement that the terms of the settlement remain confidential," Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings said.

    Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is accused of sneaking out of his base before dawn on March 11 then creeping into the houses of two nearby villages and opening fire on sleeping families within.

    It was not immediately clear how much money had been paid out in all. Afghan officials and villagers have counted 16 dead 12 in the village of Balandi and four in neighboring Alkozai and six wounded. The U.S. military has charged Bales with 17 murders without explaining the discrepancy.

    The 38-year-old soldier is accused of using his 9mm pistol and M-4 rifle, which was outfitted with a grenade launcher, to kill four men, four women, two boys and seven girls, then burning some of the bodies. The ages of the children were not disclosed in the charge sheet.

    The families had previously received smaller compensation payments from Afghan officials.

    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

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