Prosecution faces major hurdles in massacre case
March 23rd, 2012
12:30 AM ET

Prosecution faces major hurdles in massacre case

By Larry Shaughnessy

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The 16 Afghans killed in a shooting spree in early March were buried without autopsies, in accordance with the Islamic tradition of a quick burial. Any effort to do disinter the bodies and do an autopsy would probably be resisted by the Afghan villagers.

But that could present one of many challenges military prosecutors will have in making a case against the alleged shooter, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales.

Last week, after meeting with Afghan President Karzai, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said that the "Afghanistan people would see that the United States is indeed going to not only prosecute this individual but ensure that he's held accountable."

But making good on the secretary's promise will not be easy.

"I think the chances that he will walk are not bad," said Gary Solis, who spent 20 years in the Marines as a judge advocate general and military prosecutor. He now teaches the laws of war at Georgetown University Law Center.

Eugene Fidell is another former military prosecutor and the former president of the National Institute of Military Justice who currently teaches at Yale Law School. He's a little less pessimistic about the prosecution's chances in the case but he said "of course, they're going to have their hands full."

The lack of autopsies on the victims of the massacre in Afghanistan's Kandahar province is just one of many hurdles that the prosecution in this case will face once the charges become official.

To prove someone caused a person's death, prosecutors need a cause of death. As any fan of TV's "Law and Order," or countless other cop shows knows, that usually means an autopsy by a forensic pathologist.

But Afghanistan is a Muslim country and Islamic law dictates the dead be buried right away, usually within 24 hours. So no such post-mortem exams were possible. One Afghan minister tried to help U.S. investigators but Hajji Agha Lalai Desdageeri, a member of Parliament from Kandahar, told CNN that investigators "should take some samples of the dead bodies but (many) people gathered around this place and said, 'No this is not acceptable.'"

This is not the first time U.S. prosecutors have tried a murder case without an autopsy.

"This is a big problem. Prosecutors have faced that problem in several of the cases growing out of incidents like this in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Neil Puckett who in his 20 years as a Marine, worked as defense counsel, prosecutor and a military trial judge.

But even without autopsies, military prosecutors have been able to present evidence at previous trials establishing cause of death.
"How it's usually done is that (with) the cause of death, you have photographs hopefully of the bodies and of the wounds on each body. And although you don't have the body, you present evidence depicting the wounds and the dead body and you present these to a prosecution witness (and) a doctor, and the doctor testifies these wounds would unequivocally would result in death," Solis said. "It's certainly not a preferred means, but that's how it's been done."

The next hurdle is getting witnesses to testify.

"The court-martial itself has subpoena power, to require people to come to court, but that subpoena power does not extend beyond our national basis," Puckett said. "What we've seen in the past is that the U.S. government will make every effort to ask people and encourage them and provide them transportation to come to the United States to testify. More often than not, they decline that."

If potential witnesses decline, attorneys involved in the court martial turn to Plan B.

"The next best option is video teleconference testimony."

That would require a live closed-circuit TV feed be established between Afghanistan and a court room in the United States.

Bale's defense attorney has indicated he intends to raise the issue of Bale's mental state during the trial.

"Anybody that has seen what he's seen and done what he's done at the request of the military - and I'm not talking about these allegations - I think would have PTSD," attorney John H. Browne, Bales' attorney, told reporters earlier this week.

Solis said that could help Browne's client avoid prison time.

"Defense counsel may argue that there is diminished capacity, despite that fact. If the jury is sympathetic and accepts that there was a lack of capacity, it's conceivable that the jury would find him not guilty."

If Bales has mental problems, Solis said, it might lead to his being convicted on a less serious charge than being found not guilty across the board. "If the chances are not bad that he will walk, I think the chances are extremely good that he will not be convicted of the maximum charges. I think that if any he'll be convicted of a lesser (charge)."

Between the difficulty with the evidence and the mental health issues, at least one of the attorneys suspects there might be a plea bargain before the case ever reaches trial. The hurdles "may incentivize the government to negotiate a plea," Fidell said.

But if all this sounds like defense attorneys have an easy job ahead, they have hurdles, too.

"The accused may have made incriminating statements, he may have made admissions when he was apprehended," Solis said. Defense Secretary Panetta told the media last week that Bales "told individuals what happened."

"That greatly narrows the options of the defense when your man admits he did the killing," Solis said. But Bales' attorney told reporters "there's no confessions."

And there is the issue of video from Bales' base that CNN's Barbara Starr reports shows him leaving the camp before the shooting and coming back afterward.

"The film of him snooping through an orchard to avoid detection to get back into the case - that, too, will militate against the defense case," Solis said.

soundoff (142 Responses)
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  7. AlexShch

    Where are the JAG lawyers Lt. Comm. Harmon Rabb and Maj. Sarah MacKenzie?

    March 24, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Reply
  8. The Mayor

    I don't believe for a second that this soldier acted alone.

    March 24, 2012 at 2:39 am | Reply
  9. Ralph

    His trial should commence right after the trail concludes for those Afghanis who murdered US soldiers during the "outrage" over the burning of the Koran.

    When an Afghani murders a US soldier the government and people of Afghanistan don't seem to care very much about justice and punishment.

    March 23, 2012 at 11:24 am | Reply
    • Steve

      So by that logic would should just abandon all rule of law and order, because according to you since other countries do it we should to.

      Your parents didnt teach you very well, did they?

      March 23, 2012 at 11:35 am | Reply
    • F B M

      Sorry, dickhead, but they weren't 'murdered'.

      They shouldn't even be there in the first place.

      March 23, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Reply
      • Khalid

        If they didn't want us there, maybe they should refrain from taking our planes and crashing them into our buildings.

        March 23, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
      • F B M

        "They"......15 Saudis, 2 from the U.A.E, 1 Lebanese, 1 Egyptian. None from Iraq or Afghanistan. And when you say; "if they didn't want us there", you're actually implying that they did.

        March 23, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
      • Khalid

        '"They"......15 Saudis, 2 from the U.A.E, 1 Lebanese, 1 Egyptian. None from Iraq or Afghanistan'

        The people who did the terrible deed were sheltered and granted refuge by the Taliban. They are most certainly Afghans. WRT the Afghans wanting us there, I am not implying it. I state it as a fact. Were you there? When I talked with people on the streets, Afghan Army and Police, or those in nice offices, I would hear different things. The one that struck me was that many did want us there. Women, most especially. After 30 years of war, whether people want to admit it or not, much of Afghanistan is stable. The men and women out there, specifically the guys on the front lines, are doing one hell of a job. We are helping, as best we can, rebuild their country and mentor them in how we do things. It will be up to them to decide how things will work after we leave.

        People forget that during the war with the Soviets, the Afghans were allies and friends. Now, there is mistrust because of what happened afterwards. But to claim that we had no right to go into a country that harbored the people who murdered over 3000 Americans is not right. The fact that we are helping the Afghans with our blood and treasure is a choice that I believe says a lot about our country.

        March 23, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Mag

      No problem. Perhaps once an inquiry is conducted into the hundreds of thousands buried under rubble following mass bombing conducted by the US during the initial phases of iraq and afghanistan war....justice is required no matter whether its an afghan or a us soldier. this is what perhaps makes our western style and understanding of accountability better than other parts of the world..idiot

      March 26, 2012 at 3:45 am | Reply
      • Jo

        Have you served? I didn't think so. so shup

        March 26, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  10. bg123

    I believe this guy should be tried. If he did the crime, he should be sentenced accordingly. Having said that, though, we should remind the people of Afghanistan that ABL was a citizen of their country when 9-11 happened. We could have indiscriminately bombed their country in repsonse to that act of war. The Iraq war was an unjustified excuse for a Halliburton pay-day, but Afghanistan is different. I don't believe, no matter how much they say it, that the people of Afghanistan want us to leave...not really. I, however, feel that it has been time to go for a while now.

    March 23, 2012 at 11:18 am | Reply
    • Steve

      Your entire post, with the exception of your initial assertion, is complete and utter tripe. Either we follow the law or we dont. If you decide to lower yourself to be like those you despise, you are no better than they are. The idea is that America follows the rules and takes pride in being a rule of law and order.

      You lead by example, not by anecdote.

      March 23, 2012 at 11:37 am | Reply
      • mipolitic

        OK Steve, lets follow the rule of law , this civi lawyer is who in the military court of justice ? just a legal opinion for the defence . so lets continue to follow the rule of law , this guy was on base and left the base and murdered and wounded many and than tried to hide the act by burning the victims , so why was he not tried over there ?

        so lets continue to follow the rule of law why was the crime scene not secured by both the afghans and the usa ? so lets continue to follow the rule of law why was he allowed to avoid questioning by the afghan investigators ?
        so before you go talking about the rule of law , you had better find out first what law and rule is in effect .

        March 25, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
      • Jo

        First of all Mipolitic there is a rule of law when our country is fighting a war in another country under the UCMJ THAT country cannot Hold US military in their jails or prisons and they can't be tried by that country. (Uniform Code Of Military Justice) The Goverment of Afghanistan SIGNED an agreement to that effect. Secondly,, The Afghan people believe that the body's SHOULD be buried within 24 hours out of respect for the dead. They did so. Now we can't go back and dig these bodies up to give them an autopsy. TRUST ME. I'm here and I know. We go diggin up bodies and we will be in a bigger world of shit than we are right now. One thing strikes me as funny tho. Assad over in Syria,( Probably my next deployment) just Bombed 2 or more Mosques, I wonder how many Quran's he killed in that one? And why hasn't a death warrant been sworn out for him? When we accidently burn a couple they kill a marine? and riot in our province? Now I can tell you better than CNN or FOX or whatever bullshit channel you watch. You get your new's from what we tell them. and trust me we don't tell them shit. Most of your new's streaming to you in your safe living room comes from them trying to get you to watch their channel or read their post's. It's all a money thing. OK, Back to what we were talking about. Why is it that they don't swear out Jihad against Assad? Because he is a Muslim and most Americans are not. We are Infidel's and do not deserve to live under Muslim law. This is INGRAINED into their heads from the moment they peek outa that lil place they come from. I am currently deployed here training Afghan Military, (Operation Enduring Freedom), I have been in the military since the day I turned 17 Waaaay back in 1979. I have seen action or been wounded in action in 9 deployments, I was with the 1st of the 506th Infantry (Air Assault) 101st Airborne Division Ft Campbell Ky for 7 years. I later joined the ranks of the 5th Special Forces SOG (Green Beret) Then Ft Bragg, Now With the Nightstalkers Attack Helicopter Group Ft Campbell again some of my deployments were Operation Urgent Fury, Grenada, Was wounded and recieved a purple heart in that one, Operation Just Cause, Invasion of Panama, Operation Nifty Package, When we hunted down and captured General Noriega after he and his henchman killed 4 Navy Seals and wounded 9 more in an ambush. Operation Desert Storm, Operation Desert Shield, and a few more that are so top secret if I told you I would have to kill you. The Newscaster's that you watch and the reporters that write these articles have Fukked us in every conflict I have ever been in, in the name of a good story. Jeapordizing my life and the lives of my band of brother's. So don't go believin everythin ya hear, cause we don't tell those boy's squat.
        Master Sergeant Jo 5th Special Forces, Currently Deployed in Iraq.

        March 25, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
      • Cindi

        Give them hell Jo ! I always look forward to reading your comments, always well written and well said !

        March 25, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  11. Nick San Diego

    How many of you that find sympathy for Sgt Bates, condemn the actions of the Somalians that burned and dragged our soldiers thru the streets.
    If anything, their actions would be more understandable, since these men were soldiers in uniform.
    In Sgt Bates case they were babies, children and women. Have some of you lost your senses?

    March 23, 2012 at 11:06 am | Reply
    • Steve

      no, it just seems that a majority are de-evolving into animalistic neaderthals who have very little sympathy, or understanding of the more advanced concepts of ethics and morality.

      Anymore, the general populace is just a bloodthirsty mob looking for revenge, payback, or anything that involves violence and hate. You have no further to look than the spate of ignorant and idiotic programming on tv to see what we appreciate and desire.

      March 23, 2012 at 11:41 am | Reply
  12. Whombatt

    It will be interesting to say the least when our military justice system is through with Sgt. Robert Bales and we compare the crime/punishment with that meted out to one Lt. William Calley. In Calley's case, 504 slaughtered netted him 3-1/2 years under house arrest.

    Bales will likely not fare nearly as well. Beyond the political correctness syndrome we have the Secretary of Defense agitating publicly for a death sentence.

    March 23, 2012 at 11:06 am | Reply
  13. Khalid

    I am so tired of reading that Islam says this or that. I am a Muslim and served in Afghanistan. While its true that we prefer to bury the dead soon after death (as a sign of respect to the dead), this custom is waived if there is a need. If prosecutors needed to do an autopsy to get evidence to bring a murderer to justice, Islam would not only permitted, but demand it. The sacrifice of a few days without burial is a small price to pay to bring a monster to justice. When my sister died, my parents opted to have an autopsy done to ensure that there wasn't a genetic medical problem passed through to all of us. My sister could wait to protect us.

    Letting rural Afghans, who are largely illiterate, speak for true Islam would be the same as letting 12th century Christians decide what Jesus said.

    March 23, 2012 at 10:53 am | Reply
    • mipolitic

      HELLO Khalid, good post , i am not a muslim , but i do appreciate your service to the usa and your comments are enlightening in regards to the priority of an investigation over the religious aspect of a burial .

      as far as what this animal did to women and children should and must result in justice that will end in an execution.

      March 23, 2012 at 11:21 am | Reply
    • Need Not Know My Name

      Who are you to speak for all of islam just because your parents do not follow the hadith does not mean that the afghan villagers should not. who are you to decide for them what should be their practice in faith. Islam asks for immediate burial not out of respect for the body but for spiritual reasons. the belief is that the soul should be laid to rest as soon as possible so it can rise to heaven. their belief is that if the body is not buried within 24 hours the soul lingers on earth lost for eternity so please do not be an ambassador for something you truly have little knowledge of. with that said I would also like to thank you for your service for the US and would agree with you that MOST US soldiers are their for the right reasons and ARE Doing one hell of a job but I would also like to add that 1 weak link in the chain destroy the integrity of the entire chain; this will truly be an interesting case to follow but I believe that the soldier should have been tried on afghan soil since the crime was committed there!

      March 23, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Reply
      • Khalid

        With respect to burial of the body...
        1- The natural conclusion of your statement that the burial happen immediately after death would be that an autopsy could never be performed with any accuracy. So in the case of a murder (or multiple ones, in this case), there would be no forensic evidence. One what basis could the accused be tried? Hopefully they have bullets that were recovered that could be matched to a weapon and thank God there is a confession in this case.
        2- The Afghan villagers are largely illiterate. We faced this problem all the way through our work. They do not understand the hadith nor the Qur'an. That became painfully clear. They rely on a village elder who has no schooling except that he has memorized a few words of Qur'an.
        3- I assume that you are not in favor of allowing medical students to dissect a cadaver during anatomy lab. This would be a much longer delay in burial than that resulting from autopsies. And requires embalming.
        4- Who speaks for the dead when they can't speak for themselves? Assume that the accused murderer went into only the house where he killed the entire family. He then left without anyone else seeing him. The forensic evidence is contained in the victims. Should it not be used to bring this dangerous man to justice and protect the entire society?

        As far as my Islam, I come from a long line of educators, many of whom are Azhar graduated religious scholars. I take my religion very seriously. What surprises me more and more is this attitude that says 'Islam is only one way and that way is my way.' We have laws of necessity. Would you starve or eat pork? Islam is pretty clear in describing the greater good.

        To say that '... just because your parents do not follow the hadith...' is shameful and brings me to my previous point. Where do my parents come into this? This type demagoguery is typical though. The Kaffiris (those who call others infidels) do this all the time. You are obviously not one of them so I'd suggest that you read again and think again.

        One final question. Where did you hear that "... if the body is not buried within 24 hours the soul lingers on earth lost for eternity?" Do you think that God would punish a man for something he has no control over?

        March 23, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  14. Sagebrush Shorty

    This guy will be tried,convicted and sentenced long before the trial of Islamic terrorist Major Nidal Malik Hasan even begins. It's amazing how slowly things proceed when certain religious minorities are catered to and the fear of offending Muslims takes precedence over punishment for this animal.

    March 23, 2012 at 10:34 am | Reply
  15. Mike

    Can't we just post a grainy video (faked) of him being taken out back of the capitol and shot, post on Talibantube for them to see, give Sgt. Bales a new ID/haircut and tell him to keep his mouth shut.

    March 23, 2012 at 10:13 am | Reply
    • Cindy

      Why? This guy commited "war crimes." He blew the heads off children. He deserves to be shot and televised for the world to see. He was bad before he joined the military. This man is a coward.

      March 23, 2012 at 10:54 am | Reply
  16. Vlad

    He should be handed over to Afghans.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:57 am | Reply
    • American_Fury

      Never going to happen. Silly to even suggest it Vlad.

      March 23, 2012 at 10:16 am | Reply
  17. Santi

    I have PTSD and Sgt Bales does not have PTSD. I live in the same city as Lt Cali, Milia Masacre, Columbus, GA. I spent 27 years in the Army, serving in the 10th Mtn Div, supporting 24th ID, 48th ID, 3rd of the 3rd, JRTC, 82nd in Kandahar, ITB; Iraq – TF 134 Cropper, Bucca, Site 2, Ashraf. I have had to demand, talk to, convenience many Infantry and MP soldiers not to abuse non-combatants.

    Alcohol is banned from war zones, but he was able to get at least a few sips. As his lawyer said, a few sips from someone elses' container (canteen). Military investigators need to find out how they got the alcohol and what news station he had been watching days and weeks before the incident. He was probably drinking with his buddies and looking at Fox News prior to the incident. When he and his buddies heard Newt Gingrich call the President weak for apologizing for the burning of Korans, this fueled his hatred and disrepect for innocent Afghan civilians, our allies. These innocent people were not Taliban. His hatred was really fueled when he heard Rush Limbaugh calling Fluke names, a slxx and a prostxxxx. We cannot continue to promoted and allow the promotion of hate.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:25 am | Reply
    • Dan Bowen

      Thanks for your service Santi, but with all due respect, your statements are incredible presumptuous. You single handedly have decided he doesn't have PTSD and that this is a alcohol/Fox News/Republican hate filled catalyst to murder...I hope you weren't a JAG. I condone nothing related to the killing of civilians and this is a horrible event, but I also did my time and one thing I do believe in is due process...even in the most offensive cases. Your accusations are way out of line.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:49 am | Reply
      • Santi

        The Army will ensure his due process. I am not JAG, but I have an Opinion, only my opionion,about when guns, alcohol, and hatred is mixed. I Notice I used the word probably. I used this word because of the many soldiers I have had to process through the military JAG, mental, and social system.....My opinion. His lawyer said he had a few's words.

        At Fort Benning Officer's Club-Conference Center, the only news allowed is Fox News. I have asked many times if the channel could be changed while dinning for lunch. The response is always, we are not allowed to change the channel. We have to keep it on Fox News. Post level decision. Maybe I'll go see Charlotte today (catfish on Friday) and ask her why is this the Post policy.

        Newt Gingrich got 52% of the votes in Georgia. Weeks before the incident I became depressed and anxious, PTSD symptoms flared up, because of Mr. Gingrich's comments on the apology and the message he was possibliy delivering/influence to the soldiers and how this influence their mind set. Fifty percent (50%) of the Army soldiers are trained in his home town, Columbus, Fort Benning, GA.

        What are the symptoms of PTSD?

        How many soldiers have ever killed in this manner without being promted by a buddy?

        March 23, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • American_Fury

      I served too bro and I'm sorry for your condition, but unless you are a Doctor of some sort you have no business diagnosing this soldier. You do not know him and have have not personally interviewed or examined him. A sip or 2 of alcohol does not cause one to commiit atrocities of this nature.

      March 23, 2012 at 10:15 am | Reply
      • Jo

        I don't know about that I have been pretty drunk a few times. Passed out on a road once went face first into the cement and didn't wake up till the next morning after my buddies put me into the bunk. Then fell out of the bunk and they put me back in it. Hadda major headache but didn't remember a thing. I was celebrating Basic Training Completion in 1979. 33 years later I'm over here training a tribe of Illiterates to defend their own country.

        Master Sergeant Jo. 5th Special Forces Ft Campbell KY. (Currently serving in Afghanistan)

        March 24, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  18. Levas

    I am quite suspicious of our military given they knew the U.S. usual way of proving murder and also knew they were operating in a country where Muslim faith would not support the procedures for proving murder of a civilian.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:13 am | Reply
    • Myrmidon

      So we should only fight in countries that obey our courts. Good to know.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:48 am | Reply
  19. Arthur Paliden

    If they do not think they will get a guilty verdict so they can put him away for life then just shut him up in Gitmo with all the other terrorists. You know the ones that will never again see the light of day or even the inside of the US military kangaroo court.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:11 am | Reply
  20. skeptical

    If you read the story he did not confess to anything .

    March 23, 2012 at 9:03 am | Reply
    • mipolitic

      TO skeptical ; key words " THIS STORY " , story and facts are a world apart ! this idiot will meet is end at the hands of justice for his horrific actions.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:12 am | Reply
  21. beancounterz

    Typical US Military response. Move the perp out of the country as fast as possible to avoid prosecution under local laws, then claim that "No Evidence" exists to try him. Looks like he got an ambulance chaser for a lawyer too....that won't help him much in a military triial though...that guy is a dips**t is he thinks the military will let hiim do a "public" trial.

    March 23, 2012 at 8:52 am | Reply
    • Sedan1

      "to avoid prosecution under local laws" ???? They have no authority to prosecute him. Their government signed a status of forces agreement with our government. Maybe you should do some actually research before you spout off ignorant conspiracy theories.......

      March 23, 2012 at 9:03 am | Reply
    • Myrmidon

      Sedan1 got it: Status of Forces Agreements cover crimes by military members. And even if they didn't we fall under the UCMJ first and a civil court second.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:50 am | Reply
  22. Slydney

    Thru the years thousands of soldiers have witnessed terrible things on the battle field but they did not go around killing kids and folks in their homes sleeping ??? This guy deserves punishment and the best thing to do is turn him lose on the streets of the people he killed and let justice take it's course of action. Our already terrible image in the world will go even lower if we coddel this man and let him get away with "murder" ??? Then we wonder why they hate us ???? 99% of our soldiers are doing a great job taking care of these people and then this guy ruins all our efforts in human relations with those civilians. Killing kids dosen't work for any of our efforts to end this terrible war started by the killing of 3000 innocent Americans. What a set back this is for our nation !!!!!!

    March 23, 2012 at 8:44 am | Reply
    • Sedan1

      I'm all for it if that means we get to flatten the village of every person who sets up an IED on the side of the road that kills or injures one of our troops.

      March 23, 2012 at 8:59 am | Reply
    • MDpride

      You clearly have know real knowledge of the history of war or any of the countless atrocities that are committed by all sides consistently. You also have no sense about the region, evident in your "wonder why they hate us" comment. This man is presumed innocent in our justice system, until proven guilty. Based on what we know, he likely did comitt these horrible acts, and should be punished accordingly, nothing less than the death penalty – but that judgement should come from the US legal System, in this case the Miliary court and the UCMJ. This is his right as an American and a US soilder. This rediculous notion of yours that we should "hand him over to the afghan people" also shows your ignorance of international law and the geneva convention. You also have no idea what this man has lived through, the things he has experienced and seen, the time away from his family, and the horrors that he has had to survive. Having served in multiple theaters, I assure you that the life he has lived is far more dramatic than what we live now sipping coffee and responding to news stories on

      March 23, 2012 at 9:04 am | Reply
      • William

        Thank you. A well presented and factual blog on CNN. Whoda thunk it? Might add that Hamid Karzai knows this all too well but "acts" outraged that the accused was whisked away, knowing all along that he would be, probably knowledge of the prisioners location at all times. Technical immunity in some cases and a decent SOFA in almost all cases, for military and DA Civilians, contractors, not so much.

        March 23, 2012 at 9:34 am |
      • Cindi

        You're right MDpride ! People are always so quick to judge and believe exactly what the media writes and reports. It's a shame that the news reporters are so desperate for news, that they are dragging in this soldiers finances into their stories. Everybody is presumed innocent until proven guilty. I'm sure that there is a real story behind the soldier who is accused of killing Afghan civilians, but not exactly the same story that is being reported by the news. Everybody seems to base their judgment on what they read or heard about this soldier. Yet, they don't even know him, never met him, and they weren't even there standing next to him.

        March 23, 2012 at 10:26 am |
      • Sandra

        I agree with you, but I can see the general sense of fear and frustration many feel towards not only the man himself, and the terrible crimes with which he is charged, but with the system that has allowed the prisoners at Gitmo to have remained where they are, with no resolution, for so long. No one wants to see these, or any crimes go unresolved for years, until the facts have lost meaning. Regardless of what he has seen or experienced, the fact that he murdered 16 noncombatants in their sleep needs to be dealt with as swiftly as possible, for the sake and reputation of every man or woman who has or is now serving in the US military.

        March 23, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Jo

      What? Turn the coin. He killed 16 innocent women and children. If we were thinking like the Afghan's do, we need to kill 2,984 more to make up for 911. That is the way they think. you call their sister ugly and that family will kill your family, your neighbors, their dog, and your dog. This has been ingrained into their heads since birth! Until you have served over there i would shut it. You get your little new's from CNN and from your little morning newspaper, that you safely read in your safe little kitchen, and that gives you the right to do squat! CNN or FOX or any of those newscaster's Don't know shit about what is really going on over here. The only information they get is what we decide to feed them.

      Master Sergeant Jo 5th Special Forces. Ft Campbell KY

      March 24, 2012 at 11:09 am | Reply
  23. skeptical

    Maybe he didnt do it and the afgans are just taliban liers

    March 23, 2012 at 8:22 am | Reply
    • zoonib

      He confessed and left the base without permission.

      March 23, 2012 at 8:53 am | Reply
      • Jo

        He didn't confess Dipwad He provoked his right to silence immediately. GAWD some of these Posters don't even read the news and they post about shit. and the only new's you posters get is what we decide to feed you.

        Master Sergeant Jo 5th Special Forces

        March 24, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • dismayed

      maybe he didn't do it? maybe it was "taliban liars"? you are exactly what is wrong with this country...yeah and obama was born in kenya and is a muslim operative...honestly, you need to spend more time with don're both idiots....

      March 23, 2012 at 9:03 am | Reply
  24. Bill Carney

    Since the US Justice System and US Military Justice System is so weighed down in procedure, protocol, fatiguing rules of evidence and just downright foolishness why not let Afghanistan try this alleged murderer. On second thought, why ISN'T this accused murderer being tried according to the laws of Afghanistan ...... the alleged crimes were committed in Afghanistan and not the US or against the US Military!

    March 23, 2012 at 8:08 am | Reply
    • Gabe

      Why would we hand over one of our own to an utterly corrupt nation with a barely functioniing legal system? The kindergarten logic of their country their laws is especially absurd in this case. I imagine that a man arrested for murder in western Europe would be left to the devices of that country. Why? Those countries have a standardized , modern legal system.

      March 23, 2012 at 8:20 am | Reply
    • PandoraDoggl

      The United States has a status of forces agreement with Afghanistan that allows him to be tried by a United States court-martial. Simple as that. If we didn't have that agreement in force, we would likely not be there any longer – see: Iraq.

      March 23, 2012 at 8:28 am | Reply
      • steven harnack

        That is probably the best reason to abolish these status of forces agreements then. We would have to quit occupying some 170 countries.

        March 23, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Craig Stanfill

      Those "procedure, protocol, fatiguing rules of evidence" are called 'getting a fair trial". When we send our soldiers into a war zone, we don't let the locals put them on trial, in part because there is no guarantee that the accused would get a fair trial.

      March 23, 2012 at 8:30 am | Reply
    • doughnuts

      What do you think the chances are for a fair trial in a country the sentences people to death for blasphemy?

      March 23, 2012 at 9:21 am | Reply
    • Jo

      It's because we signed an agreement with their country. Our military members cannot be held or tried in Afghanistan. Come'on people. If you have something to say at least be informed before you open your keyboard.

      March 24, 2012 at 11:22 am | Reply
  25. caeser

    He will probably be prosecuted for his financial fraud but by the time they get done with that little incident in Afghanistan it will most likely be determined that he had PTSD and was not responsible for his actions Bales will be off the hook and the case will have to be closed at that point or you must conclude that the U.S.government is at fault for sending these soldiers some with serious mental problems repeatedly back into harms way.At any rate their will be no legal justice for the Afghans in what has clearly been an atrocity.
    How can we claim the roll as liberator when we assassinate our supposed enemy with a drone and coddled those among us who commit atrocities against those whom it is our declared purpose to aid.

    March 23, 2012 at 8:08 am | Reply
    • Jo

      yea and what about the 3000 innocent women and children they killed when they flew those planes into the buildings? if we thought like they do, with the 16 that were killed we owe 2984 more. but we don't think like that. Also I am shocked to read something from someone who get's his news from CNN and FOX and your little morning newspaper that you read in your safe little kitchen. The Only New's you know is what we decide to feed the news agencys

      March 24, 2012 at 11:27 am | Reply
  26. michaelfury

    Perhaps after his acquittal Sgt. Bales will receive a medal for his heroic pre-emptive strike against future terrorists.

    March 23, 2012 at 8:02 am | Reply
  27. michaelfury

    "there's no confessions"

    But that can be arranged, right?

    March 23, 2012 at 7:53 am | Reply
  28. vet

    Like to know the reason he targeted those families.

    March 23, 2012 at 7:50 am | Reply
    • MerC

      From what I have read in various accounts, he is a clear-cut case of PTSD (which has been around since the Civil War, they just keep changing the name of it, like "shellshock") and has at least some brain damage. He should have never been sent back out. There is no reason that he targeted these families other than he's sick and should not have been deployed. This is in a tragedy in the truest sense of the word and the military needs to start taking PTSD very, very seriously.

      March 23, 2012 at 8:50 am | Reply
      • Airborne Infantry

        The evolution of the name 'PTSD':
        American Civil War: 'Soldier's Heart'
        World War 1: 'Combat Fatigue'
        World War 2: 'Gross Stress Reaction'
        Vietnam: 'Post-Vietnam Syndrome', 'Battle Fatigue', 'Shell Shock'
        Currently: 'Post Traumatic Stress Disorder'

        No matter what people want to call it, it's always going to be a serious issue. Combat hurts everyone...even those not in a combat zone. Relationships and families are destroyed because of it. We are brain washed to think combatively and react to any threat with lethal force. We it's time to go back to the 'real world' we can't adjust properly because there's no 'off switch' for this train of thought. I struggle with it everyday. Do I blame this guy for what he did/didn't do? No...I blame every single politician in America. It would be a great day in this world when politicians fight their own wars as opposed to sending other people to do their dirty work. I love this country but I have a deep hatred for those running it.

        March 23, 2012 at 9:35 am |
      • steven harnack

        If we are going to have an all volunteer army then the members of that army had better be professional soldiers. They signed up to be warriors. This man was a Green Beret, supposed to be an elite PROFESSIONAL soldier. Enough with the pity parade.

        March 23, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  29. mipolitic

    IF justice is not carried out here the usa on the world stage will be totally ignored. the usa is being ignored now on the world stage , north korea , iran , taliban , afghanistan , pakistan , russia , china , and lately egypt for the last six months is quickly drifting away. anything other than justice that results in this madman execution will be recieved by the world as a double standard and the opposition to the usa will grow.

    March 23, 2012 at 7:43 am | Reply
  30. Lulu

    This is a very sad tragedy, but the man doesn't have my sympathy.At first I thought maybe he snapped under pressure. But now that I hear he swindled an elderly couple out of their life long savings, I realize he's not a good human being, sorry.

    March 23, 2012 at 7:35 am | Reply

    we are waiting for the outcome, expecting good result.

    March 23, 2012 at 5:09 am | Reply
  32. oddjob2234

    If an Afghan soldier had broken into houses and murdered 16 American men, women and children on US soil, I strongly suspect that the citizens here would not be satisfied with that person being charged and handled by a military court operated by the occupying armed forces, but would want to try that person in the US courts.

    March 23, 2012 at 3:48 am | Reply
    • Bruce in VA

      I think you are correct. But we don't always get what we want, do we?

      March 23, 2012 at 7:42 am | Reply
    • Sedan1

      If Afghan soldiers were occupying the United States do you think we would have a government or judicial system that would be able to prosecute him? The fact is our military has a SOFA (status of forces agreement) with Afghanistan and many other countries that prevents our military members from being charged and tried by those countries. Do you really think it would be a good idea to send our military personnel into counties where they could be prosecuted for anything? Is that how you think we should treat our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines that we order into horrible places that no sane person would want to go of their own accord?

      March 23, 2012 at 8:52 am | Reply
      • Name*82nd all the way

        You are one of the few making any sense here today Sedan1.

        March 23, 2012 at 11:08 am |
      • Jo

        Huah!!! Sedan. As a member of this military since 1979 Beggining with the 101st Airborne Division 1st of the 506th Infantry, Still Deployed as a member of the 5th Special Forces. Formerly Ft Bragg, Now Back at FT Campbell KY. (Operation Urgent Fury, Grenada) Operation Just Cause, Panama, Operation Nifty Package Panama (The hunt and capture of General Noriega) Operation Desert Shield, Iraq, Operation Desert Storm Iraq, Operation Enduring Freedom Afghanistan. We do not throw our people to the wolves. To some people over here the killing of the 16 innocent women and children only evens the score some for 911 2984 left. fortunately I do not think like this. Over here you can call a man's sister ugly and the family will kill you, your neighbors, their dog and your dog. If you are not Muslim you are an Infidel and do not deserve to live. We are changing this thought process, but it is a slow going mission. Oh and did we decide to start a mass killing when the Afghan's killed that young Marine over the accidental burning of a couple of book's? we did not. Who kills because a couple of book's were accidently burned?? Afghanistan does. Mark my word's I can say that half of the men I have trained over here would turn their weapons on us if they were not watched so closely.

        March 24, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Myrmidon

      Actually unlawful combatant steal Afghan Army uniforms and use them to kill US and AF-A checkpoint soldiers all the time sir. When they're caught we turn them over to the local courts.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:54 am | Reply
  33. MLC43

    The comments posted so far seem to make light of a situation that deserves extreme gravitas. As a veteran, I can only express my deepest regrets and sympathy for all involved. Should he have committed these war crimes, then I pray that he is prosecuted to the full extent of the law and receive its harshest punishment. While many unfortunate acts are forced to be committed each day in war, we can not let this kind of useless violence take place. We are no better than those we fight against if we do not step up and take the proper course of action.

    March 23, 2012 at 3:11 am | Reply
    • mbjrp36

      It is well that war is so terrible, lest we should grow fond of it. Robert E. Lee.

      March 23, 2012 at 3:14 am | Reply
    • Mike

      As a fellow veteran, I have to ask– how long have you been waiting to use the word 'gravitas?'

      March 23, 2012 at 6:53 am | Reply
  34. mbjrp36

    When the leader of our force in Afghanistan (Gen. Allen) is a politically appointed desk-jockey what do you expect from the troops?

    March 23, 2012 at 2:55 am | Reply
  35. Milman

    where was the old man during this time, very important, was he out setting up IEDs, just because they are dead, does that mean he did it period, like where are the bullets? these people do not even know what the real world is like, they live in a society based upon tribal loyalties, there is no government there, and still the unansered qustion by many peopel, how did he get off the base??????? sounds to me like you have some one sleeping on duty, you know back in good old WWII, that could get you executed alone, or killed by the bad guys. hey this is war, everyone there is a taliban suspect and even the kids to,

    March 23, 2012 at 2:39 am | Reply
    • dismayed

      seriously, you're a moron....

      March 23, 2012 at 9:07 am | Reply
  36. pjbobolink

    Hey, maybe he shouldn't have broken into those houses in the middle of the night. But once inside, didn't he have a right to stand his ground? I man, maybe those kids told him to go away and he felt threatened.

    March 23, 2012 at 2:28 am | Reply
    • Beatrix Kiddo

      If Staff Sgt Bales lived in Florida he could say all those little dead kids threatened him and the local Keystone Cops would refuse to arrest him.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:55 am | Reply

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