Here are some of the latest developments concerning the March 11 killings of 16 civilians in southern Afghanistan and the U.S. Army staff sergeant, Robert Bales, who is suspected of carrying out the massacre:
– Defense attorney John Henry Browne will today “have his first face-to-face meeting with the 10-year Army veteran, who is being held in an isolated cell at Fort Leavenworth’s military prison in Kansas,” The Associated Press reports.
– As last week wore on, The Seattle Times writes, “the Defense Department began to lose control of the flow of information about the suspect, and the portrait that emerged was of a soldier who earlier had performed with honor on the battlefield yet struggled on the homefront. This narrative has intensified debate about how long U.S. troops should stay in Afghanistan. It also turns some of the scrutiny back onto the Army, and on whether enough is being done to support combat troops as they face the physical and emotional tolls of lives split, often over the course of multiple tours, between combat zones and families.”
– Something apparently went terribly wrong in the 38-year-old Bales’ life, and “friends, relatives and his lawyer say they have an idea of what that horrible thing was: war,” The New York Times reports. “Three deployments in Iraq, where he saw heavy fighting, and a fourth in Afghanistan, where he went reluctantly, left him struggling financially, in danger of losing his home.” He also “lost part of a foot and injured his head … [and] was treated for mild traumatic brain injury and possibly developed post-traumatic stress disorder, his lawyer and military officials said.”
– “What we’re seeing so far is really a very contradictory picture,” NPR’s Tom Bowman said today on Morning Edition. “A guy who seemed to be a solid soldier, but definitely under some stress.”
– Despite the evidence presented so far, which includes video of Bales reportedly leaving his base and then returning to surrender, “among Afghans … there is a widespread belief that the soldier had companions, and perhaps official sanction, on his shooting rampage,” The Guardian reports.