Defense Dept. Refuses to Release Report about Massacre of Civilians in Afghanistan

Friday, July 03, 2015
Robert Bales in photo taken the night of the massacre (photo: U.S. Army)

The Pentagon is refusing to release an internal report on how commanders dealt with Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales who snuck off his base in Afghanistan three years ago and massacred 16 civilians.


Following the tragedy, the military conducted a review of leadership in Bales’ unit, presumably to find out if his superiors could have done anything to stop him before he snapped, that March night in 2012. The Military Reporters & Editors Association filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain a copy of the report, but was denied.


The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) has said “a series of leadership breakdowns had to occur in order for Bales to commit these crimes—the public has a right to know what those breakdowns were, and to hold the military accountable so that they don’t happen again.”


POGO also pointed out that the Army changed its post-traumatic stress disorder treatment policies following Bales’ case, “which shed light on the use of dangerous stimulants by soldiers in the field.” Bales’ medical records, which were released, revealed he had the chemical compound stanozolol in his body at the time of the killings. Stanozolol is a steroid known to trigger outbursts of temper.


A probe by the Army Criminal Investigation Command showed Bales had a reputation among junior enlisted men as being “paranoid,” “bipolar,” “crazy” and “racist,” but was regarded as competent and “even-keeled” by superior officers.


Bales was tried and convicted by the military for his actions and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Application of FOIA in Army Case Leaves Much to be Desired (Project on Government Oversight)

“Nobody Was That Crazy:” Documents Show Soldiers Called Robert Bales “Paranoid” Well Before Killings (by Adam Ashton, News Tribune)

U.S. Military Considers Death Penalty for First Time in 51 Years (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


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