The Other Drinking Soldiers

In his post on our clearance for payments to Egypt, Jim noted that the key graph came 13 paragraphs into an 18 paragraph story.

Likewise, the key graph from the NYT story letting a senior American official lay out a narrative blaming the staff sergeant’s massacre of Afghan civilians on marital problems comes at the end–paragraph 22 out of 25. After the official talks about the soldier snapping due to personalized stress exacerbated when one of the soldier’s colleagues was gravely wounded the day before the attack, we finally learn where he got this information:

The senior American official said the account of the sergeant’s state of mind came from two other soldiers with whom he drank alcohol on the night of the shootings.

Particularly given reports from survivors of the massacre there was more than one soldier–and they were drunk–I find it interesting that the suspect had been drinking with at least two other soldiers that night. Add in the report that the solder had left the base twice, not just once.

An Afghan guard at the Nato base told the BBC that the soldier left the base twice. He returned at 00:30 local time (20:00 GMT) after the first trip out and was out between 02:00 and 04:00 for the second trip.

At the very least, you have to ask how the other soldiers the Staff Sergeant had been drinking with let him leave the base, twice. Particularly if they believed him to be as disturbed as they told the Senior official he was. But it also really raises questions about whether the soldier was alone when he left the base the first time (if he indeed left twice, which an AP report from yesterday appears to support as well). And it raises questions about whether the other soldiers would have their own reasons–besides the prohibited drinking–to obscure what happened.

Now consider Hamid Karzai’s complaint that the US did not cooperate with Afghans investigating the killing.

Karzai said on Friday that the delegation he sent to investigate the deadly shootings of 16 Afghan civilians did not receive the cooperation the Afghans expected from American officials.

The article reporting Karzai’s complaint juxtaposes the complaint with negotiations on night raids.

A U.S. official said Friday that talks with the Afghan government about night raids by NATO troops are going ahead despite the alleged killing spree by a U.S. soldier and a combative statement from the Afghan president.

Now, Karzai could just be complaining because he, himself, is under a lot of stress as the Taliban presses for advantage.

But there sue does seem to be more to this killing than senior officials speaking anonymously to the NYT would like to admit.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

77 replies
  1. John B. says:

    Great. Generals and high-level civilians in the Pentagon actively covering up for a mass murderer (and in all likelihood his accomplices) of innocent children while they lay sleeping in their beds. Not the first time, of course. But this time we can’t place the blame for “collateral damage” on an impersonal drone or some hypothesized terrorist meeting.

    So some military brass (with the approval of the WH and Congress) will have to get their hands dirty actively covering up the crime scene and burying the evidence. The MSM will oblige them, of course, ’cause that’s where the profits are.

    Trouble is, burying the evidence may not be enough. It may have to be destroyed. Say, by sudden “suicide.”

    This should nicely accelerate our rapid descent from the Cult of Military Worship to unadulterated barbarism. The moral rot at the heart of our government and political culture will be our nation’s undoing as surely as it was the ruin of Rome, Napoleon’s empire, and Nazi Germany.

  2. MadDog says:

    To expand upon my thoughts once again, the spin of a momentary fit of murderous drunken rage just doesn’t compute. It was calculated and methodical. My reasoning? Here tis:

    1) Obtained and used night-vision googles so to see in the dark.

    2) Managed to leave a fortified secure base at 3 AM without getting stopped. As a responsibility of his “force protection” duties with one of its functions to provide base security, perhaps this gave the soldier a critical understanding of how to successfully sneak off the base. Or perhaps it was even he who was supposed to be on watch viewing that “persistent surveillance” video for perimeter security.

    3) A number of MSM news reports indicated that many of the victims were killed with a single shot to the head. That sounds like execution-style and not the wild spray of gunfire one would expect from a drunken rampage.

    4) A number of MSM news reports indicated that a number of the victims’ bodies were burned. Why would anyone do this? This makes it seem that an attempt was being made to cover up not only what exactly happened, but perhaps also who did it. This is connected with my next point.

    Per the AP’s latest:

    “…A surveillance video captured by a blimp that surveys the area around the base shows that the soldier later approached the south gate of the base with an Afghan shawl covering the weapon in his hands, according to an Afghan official who was shown the footage by his U.S. counterparts…”

    (My Bold)

    5) Why would the soldier be covering a weapon with a shawl? Soldiers in a front-line war-zone base in the middle of bandit country are supposed to carry their weapons at all times! Going to chow, going to the latrine, going to bed, they have their weapons with them!

    One possible reason for using a shawl to cover a weapon might be because the weapon at issue was not a US weapon. It might have been a captured Taliban weapon like an AK-47.

    Might it be that a US soldier (or soldiers EW) used a captured enemy weapon in the killing spree to deflect suspicion away and point towards the enemy as responsible for the massacre?

  3. orionATL says:


    interesting speculation.

    i’ll add my own.

    i’ve wondered from the beginning if at least some of the dead were targeted by american(s) as retaliation for something previously done by an afghani. it is the execution-style that serves as a tip off. this way of killing seems more like a calculated action to send a message.

    in one media recounting, an afghani man was said to have left his home the day before and been gone that night, to return and find his entire family murdered. that man (thru his family) might have been the target.

    other families might have been randomly murdered to obfuscate the intent.

    all speculation on my part, but i can think of no reason whatsoever that i should trust the u.s. military to tell me the truth on anything – jessica england (?), pat tilman, abu ghraib.

  4. JerryYeager says:

    @MadDog: It does not say much good about the security measures, that someone can get very drunk and pass right through them, not effective at all. What stopped the camp from being overrun?

    It is also weird that the sergeant’s name is not released, but Pravda is coming out of nowhere to give lots of details about his background, state of mind, etc.

  5. orionATL says:

    additionally, the implicated soldier was trained as a sniper, that is, trained to kill singly and efficiently as required by the job.

  6. jerryy says:

    @MadDog: It does not say much good about the security measures, that someone can get very drunk and pass right through them, not effective at all. What stopped the camp from being overrun?

    It is also weird that the sergeant’s name is not released, but Pravda is coming out of nowhere to give lots of details about his background, state of mind, etc.

  7. orionATL says:

    it just occurred to me:

    has anyone heard from our military’s don’t-ask-don’t-tell senatorial mouthpiece, huckleberry graham, since this tragedy unfolded.

    has he decided that maybe our war on afghan culture really can’t be won?

  8. orionATL says:


    i was thinking about this. maybe not releasing a name is sop.

    whatever, in this case, it protects the family from intrusive media,

    but more importantly to the pentagon, it prevents the media from finding out anything from “outside-channels”, i.e., from friends and family, about the soldier’s war experiences, especially recent experiences in afghanistan.

  9. JTM says:

    There was a story today that I believes hints at the military’s back-up plan for an explanation of all this. They released information on the shooting of a US soldier in the back of the head by an Afghan soldier. If the whole “problems back home” doesn’t fly (and I’ve seen reports that the family is already pushing back against this), then we’ll turn around and blame the Afghans, instead.

    Sorry that I don’t have the links.

  10. Bob Schacht says:

    @MadDog: MadDog, I agree with your “reasoning.” In fact, my thoughts have been running in a similar groove. To reinforce a related point, Why hasn’t the name of the reported killer been released yet? What is the problem with releasing his name, when so much else about him has been made public? There is something much more important at stake here than the identity of the killer.

    I am also wondering about the “Night raids” issue that Karzai has been complaining about. This looks a lot like a “night raid” that went wrong. Naturally, if it was a night raid of any shape or form, it would add much fuel to the fire about the night raids issue. The Pentagon still considers the night raids an important tactical asset. Portraying the murders as a lone wolf incident would help preserve the use of night raids, at least for a while.

    Bob in AZ

  11. bittersweet says:

    @MadDog: While we are speculating, I have been thinking of trafficking of drugs or contraband. Executing family members, shooting children in the head, sounds more like mafia warnings than soldier to soldier revenge. Do you suppose that this area of Afghanistan is one of those that grows opium as a cash crop? Who guarantees that these obvious on the landscape crops grow to flower, are harvested and distributed? In Taliban held areas, it is our adversary the Taliban. Who controls the profit in US controlled areas, under the nose of a US army base? And what would the mafia do if locals tried to cut out the controlling army and distribute via extended family members? (The key here is extended family members.) That would cut the profit for everyone, and be well worth covering up. No?

  12. MadDog says:


    “…Do you suppose that this area of Afghanistan is one of those that grows opium as a cash crop?…”

    One of the early news reports had said that yes, this area of Afghanistan had cultivated fields of both marijuana and poppies.

  13. Dirty Masquerade says:

    nyt buried this article way in the bowels of the US “Politics” section – yeah, that makes sense.

    Democratic Senators Issue Strong Warning About Use of the Patriot Act

    For more than two years, a handful of Democrats on the Senate intelligence committee have warned that the government is secretly interpreting its surveillance powers under the Patriot Act in a way that would be alarming if the public — or even others in Congress — knew about it.

    On Thursday, two of those senators — Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado — went further. They said a top-secret intelligence operation that is based on that secret legal theory is not as crucial to national security as executive branch officials have maintained.

    The senators, who also said that Americans would be “stunned” to know what the government thought the Patriot Act allowed it to do, made their remarks in a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. after a Justice Department official last month told a judge that disclosing anything about the program “could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States.”

    The Justice Department has argued that disclosing information about its interpretation of the Patriot Act could alert adversaries to how the government collects certain intelligence. It is seeking the dismissal of two Freedom of Information Act lawsuits — by The New York Times and by the American Civil Liberties Union — related to how the Patriot Act has been interpreted.

  14. MadDog says:

    @Dirty Masquerade: While the NYT made available the letter of Senators Wyden and Udall, the ACLU made available this:

    Patriot Act Section 215 FOIA – DOJ Document Production (Warning!!! Large 334 page PDF)

    And note that the ACLU now confirms the following:

    “…We do know now that there are two memos from the Office of Legal Counsel (the same Justice Department group that issued the torture memos) relating to Section 215. But as has become a routine practice for the Justice Department, the OLC is keeping those memos entirely secret…”

  15. rugger9 says:

    Interesting comments from all, it may be that the relevant Qs raised by Mad Dog will point to the answers we seek.

    No way he was alone, very doubtful he was drunk, if for no other reason than it’s hard to be quiet and rational when s__tfaced. Notice that the base wasn’t aware anything was wrong until the SSgt turned himself in, no reports of gunfire that I’ve seen [please correct if I’m wrong here] since it is probable that a sortie would have occurred to deal with it. How long between the time of the shootings and the turn-in? Or IF there was a two-fer, did the shootings happen on the first trip out? Why no apparent interest by the sentries?

    The drug angle is a new one, and is a REAL GOOD reason to keep everything hushed up. Plus spiriting the alleged shooter out of Afghanistan reminds me a lot of how the British would send their soldiers back to England for trial on atrocities committed in America. It’s why we have the local trial rule.

  16. MadDog says:

    OT – In other news, the ACLU filed their appeal in the Predator Drone FOIA matter. As their blog entry stated:

    “…the CIA takes the position in this lawsuit that it can neither confirm nor deny whether it has a drone strike program at all. This is despite the fact that the Departments of Defense, State, and Justice all responded that they do in fact have documents on the program. As we told the court today, the CIA’s position is simply untenable…”

    The ACLU’s Predator Drone FOIA Appeal Brief (59 page PDF)

  17. MadDog says:

    If you haven’t already heard about it or seen it, the identity of the US soldier has been named – via Faux News – News for Dummies:

    “U.S. military sources tell Fox News the American soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians last weekend is Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who is being flown to a military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas…”

    Also, David Martin of CBS News just stated on the CBS Evening News that Bale’s actions seemed to be “deliberate and methodical”. Those were very same words I used early this morning.

  18. orionATL says:


    two comments brought to mind by yours:

    – the business about the soldier being drunk. he may have been drinking, but i too have wondered how you could have done this while drunk enough to be crazy. i suppose it is possible, but i would think a seriously drunk person would stumble over a short piece of furniture, fall against a doorway, fall down in the road, etc. in short, not be much in control of self, weapon, or “plan of action”.

    – noise of shots. the “villages” assaulted were reported to be only a few hundred yards (600 in one case as i recall) from the base. i have wondered how the shots could not have been heard.

    one would think a forward base would be up and alert at the sound of multiple shots, but apparently not since the soldier ambled back into the “fort” and then back out again for another foray.

    since the soldier was a sniper i suppose he could have had a silencer equipped pistol, perhaps that accounts for no noise from shots and for the victims receiving shots to the head.

  19. MadDog says:

    @MadDog: I’m barely 24 pages into the massive 334 page DOJ Patriot Act Section 215 FOIA document dump, and in a document entitled Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act by some entity called CDC Springfield (I think that is an FBI facility and not the Centers for Disease Control), and in particular, in a section entitled Minimization (which is mostly redacted), comes this tidbit:

    …• For Prosecutor Review
    – Potential criminal stuff
    – Potential discoverable stuff
    – Copies of any info provided to the AUSA must
    be maintained in the dissemination sub-file…

  20. MadDog says:

    Buttressing EW’s (and others’) suspicion that more than one US soldier was involved, I just watched BBC News America and listened to Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai say the following (also at the BBC News site)

    “…Earlier, the president had an emotional session with relatives of those who had been killed last Sunday. The assembled villagers berated him and urged him to seek justice.

    Mr Karzai said their account was entirely different from what he called the “supposed US version” that only one American soldier was involved in the massacre.

    “In [one] family, in four rooms people were killed, children and women were killed and then they were all brought together in one room and then put on fire. That one man cannot do,” he said, reporting the concerns of the villagers…”

  21. orionATL says:

    “…The U.S. soldier held in connection with the killings of 16 civilians in Afghanistan wasn’t expecting to be deployed overseas again after he was injured twice in Iraq, his lawyer said.

    “He was told that he was not going to be redeployed,” lawyer John Henry Browne told reporters today at his office in Seattle, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the soldier’s home station.

    “The family was counting on him not being redeployed,” Browne said. “He and the family were told that his tours in the Middle East were over, and then literally overnight, that changed” and he was sent to Afghanistan in December…”

    “… Before his duty in Afghanistan, the soldier’s most recent tour in Iraq ended in 2010, an official said. Browne said the soldier suffered a head injury in a vehicle rollover accident and lost part of a foot in another injury.

    Last weekend, the soldier hiked to a village 800 meters (0.5 miles) south of his base near Kandahar city and then to another village 500 meters north of the base to commit the killings, the Army said in the memo to Congress… ”

    sounds to me like a guy who wanted out!

  22. MadDog says:

    @MadDog: On page 46 the folks at the FBI’s CDC Springfield evidently are taken with Chuck Norris because on that page there regarding “Approvals”, there is some type of emblem of a martial arts fist with surrounded by the words “Chuck Norris Approved”.

  23. rosalind says:

    so, just as Afghani reports of multiple shooters hit the wires, suddenly the “lone gunman” is named generating a new round of updates to crowd the bandwith.


  24. orionATL says:


    thanks, maddog.

    if only i could learn to read what others have written before i open my yap

    (but that would require brain surgery, too expensive) :>)

  25. MadDog says:

    @MadDog: It took me until page 86 to find out that CDC stands for Chief Division Counsel, so CDC Springfield is the Chief Division Counsel for that FBI office.

  26. CTuttle says:

    @orionATL: Aah, ya beat me to the punch… US soldier accused of killing Afghan civilians identified

    Btw, I do disagree with some of ya’lls assertions… First, Night vision(NVGs)are standard issue to every G.I…!

    Managed to leave a fortified secure base at 3 AM without getting stopped.

    Ya’ll are failing to grasp how picayune that ‘fortified secure base’ really was…! Again, ya’ll are reading way too much into it…!

    Being a Sniper is irrelevant, what did shed some more light on SSG Bales, state of mind, was the fact he’d just lost a squad member…! 8-(

  27. MadDog says:

    @MadDog: And I thought this comment from the Chief Division Counsel of the FBI’s Norfolk office on page 92 was pretty telling in regard to FISA 215 Orders and the non-disclosure requirement on recipients.:

    “…Very hard to challenge non-disclosures. Not likely to happen often…”

  28. orionATL says:


    thanks, ctuttle.

    i think we have done a LOT of speculating, but that’s the fun in the speculating game.

    as the next few days dawn we’ll hear a lot more we are intended to hear, and a lot will be withheld from us.

    as i said in one of the comments, this is beginning to sound like a guy who wanted out, and he found a way to get out. he’s out and on a plane to leavenworth.

    all i can add right now is that “seriously drunk” and “did it by himself” seem unlikely. a few drinks combined with some prescribed medications might explain things better.

  29. Bob Schacht says:

    So, where’s Trash Talk? Michigan stank up the place for the first half, and still trails Ohio (not State) by 8 points with 11 min to go…

    Bob in AZ

  30. rosalind says:

    and for those not on twitter, this is what marcy’s been up to today:

    “Just saw my 71 year old mom successfully defend her dissertation. Yeah!” #SoProud

  31. Bob Schacht says:

    Well, Michigan is out. The Curse of Ohio strikes again. They just couldn’t get stops when they needed to, and when they did get the stops, they couldn’t score. They got to 3 points down in the last two minutes, but that was as close as they could get.

    Bob in AZ

  32. rosalind says:

    and in the spirit of equal time, this is what bmaz has been up to:

    Tweet #1 – @PogoWasRight @securityninja “I’m in court, so no clue – in qualifying underway? Not on here until tonight 11 pm. Kimi Morse line HILARIOUS!”

    Tweet #2 – @PogoWasRight @securityninja “If not out of court by then, somebody needs to come get me out of the contempt lock-up….”

    Posted four hours ago…

  33. spanishinquisition says:

    @CTuttle: Just because something is standard issue, it doesn’t mean it therefore shouldn’t/wouldn’t draw attention. This guy went out at 3 AM with his standard issue rifle as well, but that doesn’t mean it should have just been blown off as nothing.

  34. jo6pac says:

    @Bob Schacht: No nothing of this sport other than they should be paid and no matter what given an education but F-1 is a go. Is bmz on strike?

    Yep dod and everyone is on the lone gunman pr spin and oh did we tell you he’s crazy, The liberal media will do their job and the dod will string this out so long that Amerika will forget it ever happen because dancing with stars is on.

  35. Ken Hardy says:

    No where has anyone been focusing on what I believe is the most objectionable occurence concerning how the US military is handling this soldier(s)’s actions and one that strongly suggests we are being lied to and that there will be nothing resembling transparency in this process. By moving the suspect to the US, we have guarunteed that not a single, solitary witness to this crime will be able to give testimony in a trial. In fact, and please correct me if I am wrong, in every single trial of personnel accused of violent misconduct, they were all held stateside WITH NO AFGHAN WITNESSES allowed to testify.

  36. CTuttle says:

    @spanishinquisition: SI, you missed the point I was making! Mad Dog, said: 1) Obtained and used night-vision googles so to see in the dark.

    My point was it is standard issue…! This tragedy and cover-up still reeks to high heaven…!

  37. orionATL says:


    yeah. good point.

    1. “standard issue” does not mean everyone uses them – auto mechanics? medical personnel? clerks? higher level officers?

    2. my understanding is that night-vision goggles are not immediately easy to use. they require a person learn how to use them,i.e., learn how to interpret what they are seeing.

    3. why would a protective-type need to use night-vision in a situation where he was riding shotgun for american “pacification” (old-fashioned term from a forgotten war) soldiers – presumably operating only in day time.

    4. could there have been some night-raiding going on in the background along with the daytime work this group of american military pacifiers?

  38. spanishinquisition says:

    @orionATL: What’s strange about this is where the raid took place. It sounds like the raid that took place was at the house of the very guy who invited the US military to be there (the house where 11 people died) in the first place. At least the storyline with the NATO VSO – Village Stabilization – is that the village elders elect to have a VSO in their village and from what I’ve heard about that village elder is that he’s upset with himself and Karzai for inviting the military there in the first place.

    Maybe the military thought the elder was a double agent, so that’s why they wanted a night raid, which went wrong since the target wasn’t in the house. In any event I’m not seeing why an allegedly drunk soldier would plot to kill a village elder and the elders’ whole family in a very elaborate methodical way. If this guy did act alone, maybe it was because it was put into his head the elder was covert Taliban/Al Qaeda who should be targeted.

  39. MadDog says:

    For more about the Camp Belambay environs and what US soldiers did or didn’t see and hear, see this GlobalPost article for some insight:

    Kandahar shooting: Afghans question US response

    “…Camp Belambay is located in the center of the town. Another military base, where both Afghan and American soldiers are posted, sits only a few miles away. But no one, from either compound, responded to the shooting spree.

    For Haji Nuur Mohammed, 60, it’s simply too difficult to believe that no military personnel noticed the massacre as it evolved on Sunday night.

    Mohammed’s mud compound sits in between two of the homes where people were killed. The rampaging soldier must have walked right by. It is a thought that for a moment makes him stare in reflection at his wrinkled hands.

    “The shooting echoed through the silent night, and was without a doubt heard by the US soldiers at the camp,” Mohammed said.

    Camp Belambay is barely a mile from Mohammed’s house and, especially at night, soldiers on lookout can easily see and hear everything, he said.

    “Why did they not stop the killings? These soldiers at the camp spy with expensive equipment on all that happens, from the ground and from the air,” he added. “It’s too difficult to believe that one of their colleagues could get away with this.”

    A spokesperson for the International Security Assistance Force, the coalition operating in Afghanistan, said an investigation was still pending, adding that it was not yet clear what the soldiers at the camp did or didn’t hear…”

  40. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Just another bad apple. Nothing to see here. No PTSD, no exhaustion, no emotional rape of soldiers and civilians alike, no plunging gap between our claims of why we are fighting, our actual aims and conduct, and our explanations of it. Move along now.

  41. orionATL says:


    hmmm. interesting and useful facts. now we know there was noise.

    this is kind of the reverse of the dog that didn’t bark – the soldiers who didn’t respond.

  42. bittersweet says:

    “…Camp Belambay is located in the center of the town. Another military base, where both Afghan and American soldiers are posted, sits only a few miles away. But no one, from either compound, responded to the shooting spree.”
    So what did some member from this family do,…that left both army bases, US on one side, and US and Afghan on the other, so mad, that they did nothing when they heard multiple gunshots coming from their houses?

    And why did the soldier march back into camp and turn himself in? Did he think that his comrades would approve of his actions? “Hey guys…I took care of it!”?
    (Mad Dog says it is an area that cultivates marijuana and opium. If the army was not running it, who was? Who in the town had contacts with the distributors?) Who had ties with the Taliban, and why?

  43. rugger9 says:

    @orionATL: #56,60
    That’s why it is almost certain that some kind of fix was in. The SSgt is going to be the “official” fall guy, but since there doesn’t seem to be any prosecutions of the camp commander [who should know where his troops are and what they’re doing at all times], the Top/senior enlisted [ditto], the sentries and their shift leader [for letting someone wander around, especially armed, in a place where riled up unfriendlies are, plus reporting the gunfire], that omission means at least tacit approval [or more probably joining in] came from the command. I know a FOB would at least go on full alert and weapons free if sustained gunfire was heard and the SSgt wouldn’t have been able to approach the base.

    Why anyone would think this activity would win hearts and minds boggles rational beings. That it happened means there’s no rationality there any more or any reason to be there. Now, to mollify the Afghans SSgt Bales will probably have to die, judicially or otherwise. No other outcome will protect the PTBs behind this, whether CIA or JSOC playing games to point fingers at the Taliban [the AK-47 idea].

    One more observation on the investigation: it struck me how similar this has been to the “investigation” run by NIS into the USS Iowa turret explosion, where the Dahlgren base commander that supplied the gunpowder [which had been exposed to extended elevated temperatures, enough to make it unstable] conveniently exonerated himself from being the cause, instead pinning it on Clayton Hartwig trying to commit suicide. What’s different this time is that SSgt Bales still lives. In both cases the families poked yawning holes in the USG story of mental issues, and also observe how the Ft Lewis commander just cleared himself of the PTSD diagnosis issue raised by the press last week, independent of the massacre. Coincidence, I think not.

  44. orionATL says:


    no matter what the real story finally turn out to be, i kinda figure he’ll be given a long, long sentence for the sake of current international relations, and then pardoned in about 5 years when the right-wing has reworked the facts of the case and turned up the political pressure on a president.

  45. Justina says:

    Robert Fisk, writing in the U.K.’s “Independent” may have just blown the lid on the motivation for the 16 assassinations. He quotes the U.S. Army’s top commander in Afghanistan in a statement he gave to his soldiers 22 days ago after an Afghan soldier killed two U.S. soldiers:

    Allen told his men that “now is not the time for revenge for the deaths of two US soldiers killed in Thursday’s riots”. They should, he said, “resist whatever urge they might have to strike back” after an Afghan soldier killed the two Americans. “There will be moments like this when you’re searching for the meaning of this loss,” Allen continued. “There will be moments like this, when your emotions are governed by anger and a desire to strike back. Now is not the time for revenge, now is the time to look deep inside your souls, remember your mission, remember your discipline, remember who you are.”


    Fisk found this statement so unusual, he clipped it out and saved it. Maybe it explains a lot about the real reasons behind the massacre. His whole article is well worth reading.

  46. Brenda Koehler says:

    The portrait of this man cultivated by the media is that of a victimized soldier who was wounded twice and forced to do successive tours.

    However, this doesn’t really seem to be true. A newspaper account states that “The service record released by the Army did not mention battle injuries or a Purple Heart award for combat injury.” Also if Bales signed up in 2001, as records state, he would have been able to leave the military by now if he didn’t like it. AFAIK the military can only keep its people for 8 years. So he would have had to have re-enlisted on his own.

  47. orionATL says:


    thank you for this new info.

    personally, i found general allen’s comments entirely admirable. i would have been disappointed in his leadership had he done otherwise. he said what a leader should say under circumstances offering his troops both severe provocation and a powerful rationale to justify retaliation.

    like comments from a good coach, gen allen’s remarks encouraged discipline on the part of his soldiers and encouraged those soldiers to focus on the common goal, not on their angry emotions.

  48. rugger9 says:

    @Brenda Koehler: #69
    Re-enlisting doesn’t justify the abuse at all. This is what happens when the Bu$hies tried to run two wars on the cheap. They also didn’t want a draft. So, we have multiple tours on nasty places, made worse by the “bring ’em on” comment made by Shrub before the Iraq insurgency started. I think Think Progress or C&L still has a screen capture on Cavuto’s show with the chyron saying that the Iraq uprising might be a good thing.

    Any decent officer knows to look out for the troops first.

  49. Brenda Koehler says:

    Why doesn’t it? He knew exactly what he was getting into and he chose it for himself anyway. He made the decision.

    Everyone knows the US volunteer/mercenary army gets the short end of stick because everyone knows somebody in it. It’s ancient news that everyone has been aware of since 2001 and should not now be overshadowing and usurping attention about the real crime, which is the murder of 16 Afghan civilians, most of them children.

    I’ve heard nothing about these Afghan victims, let ALONE the findings of the Afghan investigators whose evidence contradicts the lone gunman theory.

    All the media wants to report on is the hardships endured by the volunteer army. This is incredibly offensive to me. What about the hardships endured by Afghan women and children who were never given the choice to opt out of war? Maybe it’s just because I’m a woman with children that I find this sympathetic focus on the murderer so grotesque.

  50. orionATL says:

    @Brenda Koehler:

    you’re on the right moral track; your personal experience as a parent is valid experience for criticizing what is going on in afghanistan. you can bet there are tens of thousands of afghan mothers who would say, if ever asked, that they appreciate your sensitivity.

    don’t get derailed by what you see on teevee. there is nothing corporate teevee loves more than posturing to their viewers, the american citizenry, about uniforms and “heros” – apparently, in their view, any uniform is filled with a hero.

  51. exGI says:

    @Brenda Koehler:

    As a veteran, YOUR comment is incredibly offensive to me. The AVF does suffer greatly with multiple combat tours. But you obviously know so much more about all things military than myself, I suppose I should defer to your in depth knowledge. Besides, as a vet, I’m of low moral character and therefore, untrustworthy.

  52. emptywheel says:

    For those still in this thread, mom’s diss was a DMin at Washington Theological Union on the Spirituality of Diminishment (that is, helping people deal spiritually with age, illness, and the like).

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