The lead attorney for Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who is accused murdering 17 Afghan civilians last month, has complained that he and his team are “facing an almost complete information blackout from the government.” Attorney John Henry Browne maintained that a government managed “information blackout” is devastating his investigation into the facts of Sgt. Bales case.
The broad outline of the crime he is accused of holds that the 38 year old Bales slipped into two villages on the night of March 11 and opened fire on innocent civilians, wounding six people and killing 17 others (nine children and eight adults.)
According to a spokesman for 1st Corps, Sgt Bales command, the investigation is “ongoing.” An e-mail sent from Major Chris Ophardt says, “The prosecution will provide the defense with evidence in accordance with the Rules for Courts-Martial and the Military Rules of Evidence. Within these guidelines the prosecution is and has been communicating with the defense.”
But this doesn’t satisfy Browne. He doesn’t see the case moving along in an acceptable manner at all. He told an interviewer that his team in Afghanistan has not been able to speak with injured survivors on orders from the Army’s prosecuting team. Worse still is the fact that Browne has learned that the prosecutors had spoken to them, and they have subsequently been released from Kandahar Hospital. Of course, they are now not available to be interviewed.
At a recent press conference a frustrated Browne said, “These witnesses are now who knows where … people just disappear into the countryside in Afghanistan. They (prosecutors) actually promised us that if we sent people to Afghanistan … that they would cooperate and make witnesses available for us, and they obviously violated that promise.”
Why is this happening? Why can’t the Army act in an honorable way? Seventeen dead bodies “speak” for themselves – don’t they? What ARE the facts?
Photo credit: The U.S. Army (Creative Commons)