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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Why Is Staff Sgt. Robert Bales back in America?

Posted by on Sat, Mar 17, 2012 at 10:57 AM

Is he not accused of killing Afghani citizens? If this is the case (and it is the case), then he should be in that country and tried by its citizens. This has nothing to do with the "war on terror." This is about criminal murder and nothing more. It makes no fucking sense he is not in Afghanistan and being processed in way that will, if he is a criminal, provide the victims with justice.


Comments (59) RSS

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Nailed it.
Posted by Bhamjason on March 17, 2012 at 11:14 AM · Report this
ferret 2
He is a member of the US Armed Forces and UCMJ has jurisdiction, besides the US has always
been picky about turning over US citizens to Foreign Courts, especially when it could jeopardize an US strategic position. Bales isn't going to have a fun times being in front of a UCMJ court martial.
Posted by ferret http://!/okojo hide on March 17, 2012 at 11:18 AM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 3
The United States has an immunity agreement with Afghanistan that we were unable to get with Iraq, for the jurisdiction as @2 says. I hope he is sentenced to a mental hospital.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on March 17, 2012 at 11:25 AM · Report this
If he's tried in afghanistan he'll be sentenced to marry the 8 yr old who survived.
Posted by They call that justice in Africa too on March 17, 2012 at 11:32 AM · Report this
seatackled 5
Agreed. Or at the very least he should be tried as a war criminal at the International Criminal Court.
Posted by seatackled on March 17, 2012 at 11:40 AM · Report this
This is My Lai, again.
Posted by judybrowni on March 17, 2012 at 11:42 AM · Report this
Vince 7
The right amount of money distributed to relatives will settle the matter with Afghans. Sad? Yes, but true.
Posted by Vince on March 17, 2012 at 11:45 AM · Report this
Just Jeff 8
Look for a spate of claims from the Muslim world that the 9/11 hijackers and others who commit acts of terrorism were all suffering from PTSD.
Posted by Just Jeff on March 17, 2012 at 11:54 AM · Report this
lark 9
Good Morning Charles,
@2 is correct. In my opinion, the allegations are "crimes against humanity" and he should be tried at the Hague (ICC). But, he Bales is a member of the US Armed Forces and his trial will be conducted under martial vs. civilian circumstances. Besides as was mentioned, there are diplomatic agreements between Afghanistan and the USA that must be recognized. Indeed, it is a mess for all. However, that's the reason he is being tried in America.

My sympathy to the victims' families.
Posted by lark on March 17, 2012 at 12:04 PM · Report this
"This is My Lai, again."

Well except it only involves one soldier and no coverup. But besides those two glaring differences, you're spot on!

Quite frankly I'm of the school that if these people want to live in the stone ages, stoning their women and what not, as long as it doesn't affect the US, we should pull out.
Posted by Not worth the cost on March 17, 2012 at 12:09 PM · Report this
You should try and do minimal research before posting about serious matters. Even a few minutes of Googling would have given you background about this issue.
Posted by IPostOnSlogWhyDoMinimalResearch on March 17, 2012 at 12:17 PM · Report this
@11 Why let facts get in the way of hysteria.
Posted by Facts don't always have a liberal bias on March 17, 2012 at 12:23 PM · Report this
raku 13
If Robert Bales wants to go free, he should use the "I am a drone" defense. Flying death robots kill thousands of civilians and nobody seems to care.
Posted by raku on March 17, 2012 at 12:27 PM · Report this
Because Afghan criminal proceedings are what we would consider justice.

While we're at it, let's let the Afghanis throw acid in the faces of our Jezebel female soldiers too. Am I right, ladies?
Posted by madcap on March 17, 2012 at 12:31 PM · Report this
thatsnotright 15
I'm not a big fan of public beheadings. I'm ok with him being tried in the U.S.
Posted by thatsnotright on March 17, 2012 at 12:40 PM · Report this
bleedingheartlibertarian 16
You're "right", but not in a legal sense. UCMJ, etc...
Posted by bleedingheartlibertarian on March 17, 2012 at 12:49 PM · Report this
geez charles ... I have pretty low standards but still you constantly manage to get an eye roll & a head shake out of me
Posted by olive oyl on March 17, 2012 at 12:50 PM · Report this
Ian Awesome 18
Uh, because "justice" isn't what I would associate with the afghan judicial system, for chrissake.
Posted by Ian Awesome on March 17, 2012 at 1:43 PM · Report this
rob! 19
Re: 7, the right amount of money distributed to relatives usually settles such matters with Americans, too. It's just that the "right amount" is likely to be in the millions.
Posted by rob! on March 17, 2012 at 2:00 PM · Report this
#4,8,10,14,15: Delightful set of anti-Muslim cliches you've managed to pull out there. I wonder if Afghanis have a corresponding set of anti-American clichés to spin, riffing on the US miltary's propensity to murder villagers, piss on corpses, burn holy books and so on.

Somehow I doubt that, even if such tropes exist, they'll be using them to crack wise about this incident. There's something about 16 dead villagers, many of them children, that tends to wipe the smile off your face.

As for Sgt. Bales – I strongly support handing him over to Afghani authorities for treatment according to their laws. For justice to work it not only needs to be done, it needs to be seen to be done, and done swiftly. The relatives of Bales' victims are unlikely to be satisfied if, or when, they learn at some indefinite date in the next few years, that he has been ruled insane, or sentenced to five years, or whatever US military justice decides is suitable for one of its own.

If swift justice means a bullet in the head (as appeared to be Afghan practice during the years of Taliban rule) for Bale and substantial compensation for the relatives of his victims then so be it. If Sgt Bales and the US military don't care to play by Afghan rules, they should be playing somewhere else.
Posted by SkepticalSteve on March 17, 2012 at 2:02 PM · Report this
@ 13 Don't listen to the ACLU histeria, the damage from them is kept minimal, they are designed that way.
Posted by Seattle14 on March 17, 2012 at 2:03 PM · Report this
@18 - Tell that to the prisoners at Guantanamo still awaiting trial after 11 years.
Posted by Mason on March 17, 2012 at 2:07 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 23
Yeah, I'm not buying it. All of a sudden now the Afghans care about the rule of law? They've had since forever to act like they give two shits about the difference between just and unjust, but all they've ever done up to now is shug whenever anybody suggested they really need to join the community of grown up nations.

Near as I can tell the people of Afghanistan like their anarchy. Nobody ever said that the US -- or any country anywhere -- has perfect justice, but anything is better than letting the suspect be lynched.

I'd say the same thing about rescuing an accused black man from the so-called courts of "justice" of the Jim Crow South, no matter what he was accused of. The right to put people on trial and judge them is something you earn.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on March 17, 2012 at 2:12 PM · Report this
@18 and you expect justice from the US military courts? Sgt. Wuterich ordered his men to kill 24 Iraqi civilians and he pled guilty. His punishment was being busted to private and a pay cut. Although I do realize that this is not the same situation as Wuterich was on a mission and Bales was not, so their are probably different rules and regulations.

I have to wonder if an Afghan soldier had killed 16 US civilians, if we would have allowed for that soldier to be tried in his own country?
Posted by sisyphusgal on March 17, 2012 at 2:14 PM · Report this
Not to rain on everyone's International Law parade but he'd only be headed to the ICC if domestic courts were found to be unwilling or unable to prosecute him. This why the conservative hysteria about subjecting US soldiers to the ICC's jurisdiction is so ridiculous. The US military is both able and, at least so far, willing to prosecute under the UCMJ so the ICC would not have a role in this.
Posted by augurgirl on March 17, 2012 at 2:16 PM · Report this
raku 26
#21: Yes, damage is kept "minimal", which means only at least hundreds, probably thousands of civilian deaths.…… (pretty much the same story)
Posted by raku on March 17, 2012 at 2:17 PM · Report this
Posted by Rujax! on March 17, 2012 at 2:39 PM · Report this
I am surprised at the naive assumption of many people posting here that the American judicial system is somehow more just. Justice in this circumstance cries out for something other than spiriting the accused out of Afghanistan and pandering to Americans about how unusual and unexpected his actions were. In every war, everywhere and specifically in American wars, actions like his have been perpetrated by officers and soldiers. The bigger question ignored here is why we pepetuate this image of American solders, the American military and the American justice system as somehow better, more ethical and more just than anybody else. We are no better than the Afganis except in our minds. If anybody deserves to be drawn and quartered in the public square, it is the cold-blooded murderer of children.
Posted by dbgill56 on March 17, 2012 at 3:02 PM · Report this
Yes, indeed My Lai, again. There have been reports of up to 20 soldiers involved, but so far it only appears one will be charged.

And not in the country in which he committed the massacre.

Time will tell if the whole tragedy of My Lai will play out in the sentencing.

But up to this point, it has My Lai written all over it.
Posted by judybrowni on March 17, 2012 at 3:16 PM · Report this
Sigh. This thread proves just why liberals need to actually volunteer for military duty instead of pontificating about shit they understand not at all.

Afghanistan and the US have what is called a status of forces agreement or SOFA. This is negotiated in advance of troops entering into the host country. We've had them with places like Germany and South Korea. Among other things, they establish procedures for handling different types of criminal offences committed by US forces. It operates along the same kind of lines as diplomatic immunity.

As for the difference between an illegal order that results in civilian casualties and a single soldier going rogue, the distinction between the two cases should be obvious, as should be the difference between civilian collateral damage that's endemic to war generally and deliberate acts targeting civilians.

At the very least, Slog can appreciate the difference between manslaughter, accidental death and murder right? Or are we just all too busy looking for ways to rip on the military?
Posted by Corydon on March 17, 2012 at 3:29 PM · Report this
Liberals don't and haven't served in the military? How ignorant is that!
Posted by dbgill56 on March 17, 2012 at 4:16 PM · Report this
@30 You do understand that ripping on the military courts vs the military leadership vs the soldiers are separate things? Plus most of this thread is an argument over Afghan vs US justice with a couple of posts about how the Afghan government thinks that a group of soldiers were responsible based on eye-witness accounts.

Also trying to justify the murder of civilians by downplaying the incident by calling it an "illegal order" is bullshit.
Posted by sisyphusgal on March 17, 2012 at 4:16 PM · Report this
Rujax! 33
Dumbass @ 30...

Please look up how many of the shitheads in the Cheney/Bush criminal enterprise...the ones who got us into these god-damned messes...actually served.

Liberals/Progressives serve fight and die.

Ask Scott Olsen about Iraq...and about Oakland.

You sir, are just fucking stupid.
Posted by Rujax! on March 17, 2012 at 4:17 PM · Report this
So typical your willing to throw him into combat time after time to protect your sorry butts, then when something happens to make you uncomfortable you throw him to the wolves.This soldier needed help and should have gotten it, instead he got more deployments. Yeah lets crucify the soldiers, reminds me of another war, thought we would have learned a lesson by now guess not.
Posted by Leo g on March 17, 2012 at 4:53 PM · Report this
Original Andrew 35
To answer the question, he's back in the US so that the military can release him as soon as the press loses interest in the story.

They couldn't care less that he murdered innocent men, women, and children while they slept--the most cowardly and despicable act someone could commit--and the military will ensure that there is no chance of justice, just like they released the murderers who savagely carried out the Haditha massacre.
Posted by Original Andrew on March 17, 2012 at 6:06 PM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 36
@35: Does your rant include Obama couldn't care less? After all, he is the military's commander in chief.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on March 17, 2012 at 7:57 PM · Report this
chill dude. It's not like Bales threw a holy book in the trash or anything.
Posted by bornhere on March 17, 2012 at 10:45 PM · Report this
14: You're right.

Lock this terrorist wanna-be up in Gitmo.
Posted by suddenlyorcas on March 18, 2012 at 12:54 AM · Report this
You're a fucking moron, Chuckie. Then again, what can we expect from the son of a dick-tator sucking father?
Posted by BetarayBilly2 on March 18, 2012 at 10:39 AM · Report this
We'd invade Zimbabwe, but not only is that society as ass-backward and fucked up as Afghanistan, but it also has no strategic importance. To anyone. Anywhere.
Posted by BetarayBilly2 on March 18, 2012 at 10:41 AM · Report this
"After all, he is the military's commander in chief."

Do you think Bush Sr. or Jr. would hand the soldier over to Afghan justice?
Then you've missed the critical first step in any anti-Obama rant.
That being, showing that someone else would acted different AND that difference would be BETTER.

Otherwise you're doing nothing more than expressing your dislike of Obama because he breathes air (like every other politician).

It shouldn't be that difficult for you. There have been lots of Republican presidents. And you have four candidates right now. At least ONE of them should be able to say they'd do it differently. No? No? No.
Posted by fairly.unbalanced on March 18, 2012 at 11:35 AM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 42
@41: Really? Ron Paul has said he'd do it (foreign affairs) very differently.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on March 18, 2012 at 12:29 PM · Report this
Yes, really.
Because "doing foreign affairs differently" is not very specific in this instance.
Would Ron Paul hand the soldier over to Afghan justice?
Yes or no?

And like I said, you have to show that it would also be BETTER than what Obama is doing.

Come on. It cannot be that difficult. Would Ron Paul hand over the soldier to Afghan justice?
Posted by fairly.unbalanced on March 18, 2012 at 1:28 PM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 44
@43: Okay, I was speaking broadly in regard to Afghanistan. No, neither Ron Paul, Obama, or anyone else can hand the solder over to the Afghans because of the status of forces agreement as explained by @30. I assumed you had read that.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on March 18, 2012 at 1:50 PM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 45
@41 & @43: My comment in @36 referred to @35, Original Andrew. Is Original Andrew Fairly Unbalanced?
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on March 18, 2012 at 2:01 PM · Report this
"No, neither Ron Paul, Obama, or anyone else can hand the solder over to the Afghans because of the status of forces agreement as explained by @30."

So your comment about Obama "After all, he is the military's commander in chief." is meaningless.

But I feel good about this. Now you've admitted that Obama is not any worse than the Republican candidates on this issue. That's a huge first step.
Posted by fairly.unbalanced on March 18, 2012 at 2:16 PM · Report this
How much alcohol did this guy drink? That is the question. I sympathize with the fact that Bales was stressed out and he did not want to be where he was, but to get drunk to deal with his stress and pain by getting plowed and then going out and murduring people in their homes, that is out of the question. Why didn't he just go to his superiors and tell them he was done with it all and could not take it anymore? War is stupid.
His life is ruined along with all the people he killed.
Posted by sixtyone on March 18, 2012 at 6:26 PM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 48
Because murder is covered under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and we cannot set a legal precedent by allowing American Soldiers to be tried in corrupt 3rd world courts.

He has been thrown in the brig and chances are he will be executed, most likely by hanging or firing squad. He will not die a pleasant death.
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on March 18, 2012 at 6:52 PM · Report this
Appears the Afghan government is not convinced Bales acted alone, according to their investigation of eye witnesses.…
Posted by enzo on March 18, 2012 at 8:22 PM · Report this
You are all a bunch of fucking blood-thirsty idiots.

None of you are physicians who know what happened to his brain and may or may not have precipitated/caused his actions. How many of you have ever been to war and experienced sever PTSD as a result? How do you know he is or isn't a scapegoat? How do you know he acted alone?

I hope none of you fucktards ever serve on a jury.

Posted by joemomma on March 18, 2012 at 11:52 PM · Report this
@50, PTSD is not a license to kill. The story Charles linked to mentioned a concussion from a roadside IED. If his defense team can show that injury permanently damaged his brain in such a way that he is not responsible for his actions, then off to the psych ward he goes. If he had a true psychotic break from reality, same deal.

If not, then he can stay in Leavenworth for the rest of his days.
Posted by clashfan on March 19, 2012 at 8:15 AM · Report this
@51, no shit. I never said or implied that it is. All I'm saying is that nobody here knows all the facts. Or even 1/2 of them. Regardless, the majority of the morons posting here are acting like a bunch of fucking blood-thirsty heathens.
Posted by joemomma on March 19, 2012 at 10:14 AM · Report this
slade 53
He should be shot with a blind fold and a stale Marlboro hanging from his lips as all Homicidal maniacs who Kill blindly?
Homicide is Homicide and 16 counts involving women and children equals "game over " and due to the location and situation I feel he should be put to death in Afghanistan.
the nut house is for nuts and not monsters that spend a entire day killing children and everything else.

Don't do the crime if you cant do the time is what Tony Beretta would say and keep your eye on the sparrow when the going gets narrow.

His mental position is mute to the crimes committed.
Posted by slade on March 19, 2012 at 11:28 AM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 54
If Afghanistan is a sovereign country, then they should be holding the trail of a murderer who killed their citizens on their territory. It doesn't matter if we think their justice system sucks (why, do they torture people and detain them indefinitely without charge or something? Because we do that too.) it's their country.

But if they're our occupied territory, then I guess we get to decide the who, what, where and why murderers get put on trial about.
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings on March 19, 2012 at 12:03 PM · Report this
@52, you certainly implied that PTSD was (or could be) a mitigating factor. Otherwise, why bring it up?

And I only see two or three posts specifically calling for his death. I see one or two others who say he *will* be executed, but don't express much of an opinion on the justice of this. I also see one or two others saying he's headed to the psych ward.

And I see a lot of argument over jurisdiction, whether a non-Obama president would do anything differently, the record of the Afghani justice system, and comparisons to My Lai. Are you looking at a different thread?

I keep non-registered commenters hidden. Does wonders for my blood pressure.
Posted by clashfan on March 19, 2012 at 1:06 PM · Report this
@52 ... we have trials for people who commit homicide, you know.

Man. The irony of how this brings out the inner Death Penalty Hang 'em High Red Neck in some liberals.

Look. In a just world he should be tried in Afghanistan. I agree. But we are stuck.

SOFA is a done deal. The US government made a deal with US Military AND the Afghani "government," such as it is. And that's that. Scream all you want. Obama has to honor it or he is fucked by the military. Not to mention the election.

Think about it. In an all-volunteer force are we really going to tell these guys: "Hey, look I know we send you to shit holes with no real workable strategic plan and when you eventually snap from the four of five tours we're going to hand you over to Bronze Age religious nut justice (not claiming justice in the US is that much better. It is just barely.)?"

You do that I guarantee you you will see 10 times the number of these incidents. Just another way our government has fucked these over-pressed soldiers over. Another deal they have broken with them. Great.

I'd also remind you all that in Afghanistan killings like this, and worse, are a NIGHTLY occurrence. But it's the Taliban doing it. While it's certainly no excuse for the US service people to murder, the telling thing is the Afghani reaction to them. Afghanis know if they rioted against Taliban targeted killings the Taliban would kill MORE people. Where as the US is actually held somewhat accountable to world public opinion. That, and these riots are also stoked BY the Taliban.

I know way out there in far left fairly land Obama has all these magical powers he refuses to use to buy is all brand new ponies, but in reality he is almost as stuck as the rest of us.
Posted by tkc on March 19, 2012 at 7:11 PM · Report this
The thing that bothers me about the media reaction is nobody is asking the obvious question: If your entire strategic plan hinges on every one of your 70,000 VOLUNTEER soldiers (many that you mine from people with criminal records) never snapping and committing a single atrocity IN A WAR, then that plan, that war, is fucking un-winable in the first place. Tragedies like this expose this travesty in Afghanistan as the complete charade it is.
Posted by tkc on March 19, 2012 at 7:17 PM · Report this
I am not going to sat that he is guilty or not guilty, but what I can say is that nobody knows what was going through Robert Bales head when this tragedy happened. None of us know what he has been through, but we all do know what he has given for us!!!!!!! We are Americans and suppose to believe in our people, we are innocent until proven guilty!!! Have you been to war? Have you had a head trama? Do you know what his life was like? No and yet you are so quick to blame. We will never know the whole truth which makes me so sad when I see so many ready to nail him to a wall. I pray for those who lost their lives, but I also pray and stand by Sgt Robert Bales as if it werent for people like him where would we be today. Alisha
Posted by alisha on March 20, 2012 at 2:55 PM · Report this
@28 here here .....very well said

Posted by takdog on August 20, 2013 at 12:10 PM · Report this

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