Almost a week since the shootings of 16 Afghan civilians and the suspect in the case is still cloaked in anonymity. The military says that it is policy not to release the name until charges are filed. But that's not the law says Gary Solis, Adjunct Professor of Military Law at Georgetown University and former Marine prosecutor.
"There is nothing in the uniform code of military justice which would preclude military authorities or anybody else from releasing the name of any accused in any case, nor is there anything in the manual for courts martial or the rules of evidence that would preclude the release of this individuals name," Solis told Security Clerance's Jennifer Rizzo. "As far as I’m aware there is no DOD policy that prevents the release of a name. Indeed we see names released all the time for cases that come up. So this is in my experience unique."
Earlier this week, the Pentagon arranged for a background briefing for reporters with a Military Judge Advocate about the legal process. That military lawyer, who spoke on the condition no name was used, also could not point to a legal reason not to release the name and noted himself that in some cases, like Nidal Hasan who stands accused of the Fort Hood shootings, the name was known well before the charges.
Q: Does the UCMJ allow you?
MILITARY JUDGE ADVOCATE: The UCMJ does not speak to the release of names.
Q: So you can't point to that as a reason not to.
STAFF: (Briefer name deleted) made it clear that it is typical policy for the names not to be released until the charges have been preferred.
Q: So there is nothing in the UCMJ that goes to this - (briefer name deleted), nothing in the UCMJ that goes to the release of name. Is there a legal directive within the Judge Advocate Corps that goes to the release of the name of a felony suspect?
MILITARY JUDGE ADVOCATE: I'd have to check, but I'm not aware of anything.
The suspect's civilian lawyer, John Henry Browne, told a press conference there was another reason the name had not been released.
"In this case there is more of an effort being made to protect his identity, the identity of his family, because there is great concerns about their security," Browne said on Thursday night.
Browne said it could be "weeks" before the name is revealed, based on his discussion with the military attorney assigned to the case, unless something "leaks out."