CNN: “No US Access to Sites of Afghan Killings”, But Did US Ask for Access?

A story just posted at addresses two crucial questions that have been raised at Emptywheel regarding the Panjwai massacre. Late last night, MadDog repeated a speculation he has raised several times regarding how Bales could have been undetected when he left the outpost twice on the night of the killings:

Given the 3 points above, I’ll again wonder as I’ve done here before whether Bales himself was an individual assigned to provide the very security that he’s purported to have breached.

The CNN article confirms that very fact:

The official said Bales, 38, was meant to have been on duty guarding the base that night, and would have had full body armour and weaponry as standard.

A point that I raised in an early post on this incident was that we would be able to tell how serious the US is in determining whether Bales truly acted alone or if other soldiers were present and fired weapons during the killings would be to observe how fully the US carries out forensic examinations of the crime scenes:

Although the bodies appear to have been buried already, we will know just how serious the US is about establishing the number of shooters involved in the attack if they actually visit the homes invaded to recover shell casings and bullets. Even rudimentary forensic evaluation should be able to establish conclusively how many weapons were fired. Slightly more advanced forensics can determine whether all the weapons involved were in the possession of the soldier who has turned himself in.

Remarkably, over two and a half weeks after the attack, we now learn that the US has not yet had “access” to the crime scenes:

U.S. military officials have yet to gain access to the sites in which 17 Afghans were killed in Kandahar, an obstacle that could impede efforts to prosecute the American soldier accused of the multiple homicides.

U.S. personnel had not been able to collect DNA from the sites or access the areas, although DNA collected by Afghan investigators may have been received, an official said.

However, DNA has been found in blood on the clothing of the suspect, Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales.

“We do not have access to the crime scene,” said the U.S. official, who has knowledge of the investigation but did not want to be identified discussing an ongoing inquiry.

With so much time having passed, it seems to me that the question of access now becomes moot. It seems virtually impossible that Afghan officials have sealed off the crime scenes and limited access there only to their own investigators, so any evidence gathered at this point is rendered virtually meaningless.

Not addressed by CNN is whether the US even asked for access to the crime scenes. Read more