Friday, March 16, 2012

Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales named as suspect in Afghanistan massacre

From Yahoo News:

Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales named as suspect in Afghanistan massacre

Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales during a training exercise at Fort Irwin, CA. (Photo released in August by the 28th Public Affairs Detachment)Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, left, in Fort Irwin, CA 2011. (United States Army)
Military sources late Friday identified Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales as the name of the 38-year-old suspect accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians in a Sunday rampage. Bales has not yet been charged in the case. He was flown to the U.S. military maximum security prison at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas from Kuwait Friday.
"I can confirm" the name of the suspect is Robert Bales, a U.S. official told Yahoo News on condition of anonymity.
Bales' Seattle-area celebrity lawyer, John Henry Browne, said Friday that his client is in shock.
"He is in shock, kind of like a deer in headlights at the moment," Browne said Friday morning, a local station near Joint Base Lewis-McChord King 5 News, reported. "I told him not to talk about the allegations at all, so I cannot tell you how he is responding because I told him not to talk about it."
Browne earlier told reporters at a news conference Thursday that the decorated soldier wasn't happy that he had been deployed a fourth time despite sustaining two injuries, including a traumatic head injury and the partial loss of his foot in Iraq. Browne dismissed rumors that the soldier had marital troubles, and said he had two young children.

"He did not want to deploy," Browne told the Seattle Times. "In fact he was told he was not going to go. Then, really almost overnight, that changed." Browne told the paper that a soldier in his unit had lost a leg in combat the day before the alleged shooting.
The New York Times quoted a "senior" American official saying the soldier had been drinking before the alleged shooting."When it all comes out, it will be a combination of stress, alcohol and domestic issues — he just snapped," the anonymous official told the paper.
The soldier was one of 4,000 soldiers in the 3rd (Stryker) Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division stationed at Lewis-McChord in Washington state. The base's medical center is being investigated for allegedly down-grading post traumatic stress diagnoses to other mental illnesses that do not prevent deployment or qualify soldiers for disability payments.
Laura Rozen contributed reporting.

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