The Associated Press announces that SSG Robert Bales’ case begins today at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington today with an Article 32 hearing (like a grand jury). But here we go;
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, a married father of two from Lake Tapps, Wash., is accused of slipping away from a remote outpost in southern Afghanistan early on March 11 with an M-4 rifle outfitted with a grenade launcher to attack the villages of Balandi and Alkozai, in the dangerous Panjwai district of Kandahar Province.
The massacre left 16 dead – nine of them children, and 11 of them members of the same family. Six others were wounded, and some of the bodies set afire.
Monday marks the start of a preliminary hearing, called an Article 32 hearing, before an investigative officer charged with recommending whether Bales’ case should proceed to a court-martial. The hearing is scheduled to run as long as two weeks, and part of it will be held overnight to allow video testimony from witnesses in Afghanistan.
Of course, the whole thing is being muddied by Afghans who are charging that there was more than one murderer, and that Bales made two trips to town to commit his dastardly crime. That’s the first time I’ve heard that one, actually;
American officials have said they believe Bales broke the slaughter into two episodes – walking first to one village, returning to the base and slipping away again to carry out the second attack.
Members of the Afghan delegation that investigated the killings said one Afghan guard saw a U.S. soldier return to the base around 1:30 a.m. Another Afghan soldier who replaced the first guard said he saw a U.S. soldier leave the base at 2:30 a.m.
Bales must be a real ninja. And of course, his lawyer is going to try indict all veterans by claiming that Bales did this because he caught the PTSD, even though there’s no evidence that PTS causes people to do things like what Bales committed. But it’s a convenient excuse that no one outside of the community understands and it sounds plausible and who cares since it’s only veterans who will suffer from the mischaracterization of the malady.