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Many Willing to Cut Shooting Suspect Slack

March 19 2012 at 3:30 PM
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Many Willing to Cut Shooting Suspect Slack
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March 19, 2012
Associated Press|by Allen G. Breed
He is accused of the kind of crime that makes people shiver, the killing of families in their own homes under cover of night, the butchery of defenseless children. Under normal circumstances, Americans would dismiss such an act as worthy of only one response: swift and merciless punishment.
Not so in the case of Robert Bales -- at least, not for some Americans.
So far, many seem willing to believe that a 10-year U.S. military veteran, worn down by four tours of combat and perhaps suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, simply snapped. That somehow there must be, if not an excuse, at least an explanation.
Exactly what set off the Army sergeant accused of massacring 16 civilians in Afghanistan's Kandahar Province is far from clear. But already, organizations and individuals with differing agendas have portrayed Bales as the personification of something that is profoundly broken, and have seized on his case to question the war itself or to argue that the American government is asking too much of its warriors.
On the website of Iraq Veterans Against the War, organizer Aaron Hughes declared that Afghan war veterans "believe that this incident is not a case of one `bad apple' but the effect of a continued U.S. military policy of drone strikes, night raids, and helicopter attacks where Afghan civilians pay the price." Those veterans, he wrote, "hope that the Kandahar massacre will be a turning point" in the war.
"Send a letter to the editor of your local paper condemning the massacre and calling for an end to our occupation in Afghanistan," Hughes wrote.
On March 11, authorities say, Bales, a 38-year-old married father of two from Washington state, stalked through two villages, gunned down civilians and attempted to burn some of the bodies. The dead included nine children.

In Lake Tapps, Wash., neighbors knew Bales as a patriot, a friendly guy who loved his wife and kids, and a man who never complained about the sacrifices his country repeatedly asked of him. They find it hard to believe he could be capable of such depravity.
"I kind of sympathize for him, being gone, being sent over there four times," said Beau Britt, who lives across the street. "I can understand he's probably quite wracked mentally, so I just hope that things are justified in court. I hope it goes OK."
Paul Wohlberg, who lives next door to the Baleses, said: "I just can't believe Bob's the guy who did this. A good guy got put in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Talk like that infuriates Fred Wellman, a retired Army lieutenant colonel from Fredericksburg, Va., who did three tours in Iraq. He said comments like those of Bales' neighbors and his attorney simply feed into the notion of "the broken veteran."
Wellman does not deny that 10 years of war have severely strained the service. But while others might see Bales as a wounded soul, Wellman sees a man who sneaked off base to commit his alleged crimes, then had the presence of mind to "lawyer up" as soon as he was caught.
"That may play well with certain circles of the civilian community, which doesn't understand our lives," Wellman said. "But he's going to be tried by a military court ... and chances are three or four of those guys had things happen to them, may have had three or four tours, may have lost people, may have been blown up. And NONE of them snapped and killed 16 people." He added: "It's just too easy, and a lot of us, we're not buying it."
Benjamin Busch, a Marine veteran of two tours of Iraq, wrote last week on the website The Daily Beast that he and his comrades are afraid to admit that Bales "lost his mind in war," because that "allows for the possibility that any one of us could go insane at any time, and that every veteran poisoned by their combat experience could be on edge for life."
James Alan Fox, an expert on murder, said Americans can more easily make excuses for Bales because the shootings did not occur here at home.
"Although the victims weren't soldiers or the enemy, they were civilians, many Americans ... literally distance themselves from this case, because it's so far away in a foreign land," said Fox, a professor at Boston's Northeastern University. "It's still mass murder, yet many Americans sort of perceive it differently because it is related to a military situation, as opposed to a private citizen who's murdering other private citizens."
Even some fellow warriors who deplore Bales' alleged acts suggest he should not bear all the blame.
Reacting to a New York Daily News headline labeling the then-unidentified suspect "Sergeant Psycho," Ron Capps wrote an angry piece on Time magazine's blog site.
"To our elected officials and the people who elected them: this is what you get when you refuse to do what is necessary to create and maintain sufficient military force to fight your wars," wrote Capps, who described himself as a 25-year veteran who did a combat tour in Afghanistan.
"This means everything necessary up to and including the implementation of a draft. ... The all-volunteer Army was designed as a peacetime force. It was never supposed to carry us through 10 years of war."
The killings sent Thomas L. Amerson, a retired Navy captain from Ledyard, Conn., back to the history books to explore other stains on America's military history, including the 1968 massacre of Vietnamese civilians at the village of My Lai. Too often, he argued, Americans absolve the leaders who start the wars and "invest the full responsibility in the combatants themselves and the families that support them."
"These actions in Iraq and Afghanistan have been more than a clash of combatants; they have been a clash of cultures, ideologies, and religions that has blurred the lines of right and wrong," Amerson wrote in an email to The Associated Press.
Amerson asked that Americans "hope for the safety of Sgt. Bales' family and for the ability of his wife and small children to reconcile the person they knew with the one they now face. May they be successful in un-blurring lines that society and courts will, no doubt, fail to distinguish satisfactorily."
-- Associated Press writer Gene Johnson in Seattle contributed to this report.

http://www.military.com/news/article/many-willing-to-cut-shooting-suspect-slack.html?ESRC=eb.nl


[linked image]"The chief aim of all government is to preserve the freedom of the citizen. His control over his person, his property, his movements, his business, his desires should be restrained only so far as the public welfare imperatively demands. The world is in more danger of being governed too much than too little.

It is the teaching of all history that liberty can only be preserved in small areas. Local self-government is, therefore, indispensable to liberty. A centralized and distant bureaucracy is the worst of all tyranny.

Taxation can justly be levied for no purpose other than to provide revenue for the support of the government. To tax one person, class or section to provide revenue for the benefit of another is none the less robbery because done under the form of law and called taxation."

John W. Davis, Democratic Presidential Candidate, 1924. Davis was one of the greatest trial and appellate lawyers in US history. He also served as the US Ambassador to the UK.
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Re: Many Willing to Cut Shooting Suspect Slack

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March 19 2012, 3:31 PM 

The Complex Portrait of Sgt. Bales
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March 18, 2012
Associated Press|by Donna Gordon Blankinship and Dan Sewell
LAKE TAPPS, Wash. - A diverging portrait of the Army sergeant accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers is emerging as records and interviews show a man appreciated by friends and family who won military commendations, yet one who faced professional disappointment, financial trouble and brushes with the law.
The deeper picture included details on how Robert Bales was bypassed for promotion, struggled to pay for his house and eyed a way out of his job at a Washington state military base months before he was accused of the horrific nighttime slaughter in two Afghanistan villages.
While Bales, 38, sat in an isolated cell at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.'s military prison Saturday, classmates and neighbors from suburban Cincinnati, Ohio, remembered him as a "happy-go-lucky" high school football player who took care of a special needs child and watched out for troublemakers in the neighborhood.
But court records and interviews show that the 10-year veteran - with a string of commendations for good conduct after four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan - had joined the Army after a Florida investment job went sour, had a Seattle-area home condemned, struggled to make payments on another and failed to get a promotion or a transfer a year ago.
His legal troubles included charges that he assaulted a girlfriend and, in a hit-and run accident, ran bleeding in military clothes into the woods, court records show. He told police he fell asleep at the wheel and paid a fine to get the charges dismissed, the records show.
Military officials say that after drinking on a southern Afghanistan base, Bales crept away on March 11 to two slumbering villages overnight, shooting his victims and setting many of them on fire. Nine of the 16 killed were children and 11 belonged to one family.
"This is some crazy stuff if it's true," Steve Berling, a high school classmate, said of the revelations about the father of two known as "Bobby" in his hometown of Norwood, Ohio.
Bales hasn't been charged yet in the shootings, which have endangered complicated relations between the U.S. and Afghanistan and threatened to upend U.S. policy over the decade-old war.
His former platoon leader said Saturday Bales was a model soldier inspired by 9/11 to serve, who saved lives in firefights on his second of three Iraq deployments.
"He's one of the best guys I ever worked with," said Army Capt. Chris Alexander, who led Bales on a 15-month deployment in Iraq.
"He is not some psychopath. He's an outstanding soldier who has given a lot for this country."

But pressing family troubles were hinted at by his wife, Kari, on multiple blogs posted with names like The Bales Family Adventures and BabyBales. ??A year ago, she wrote that Bales was hoping for a promotion or a transfer after nine years stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord outside Tacoma, Wash.
"We are hoping to have as much control as possible" over the future, Kari Bales wrote last March 25. "Who knows where we will end up. I just hope that we are able to rent our house so that we can keep it. I think we are both still in shock."
After Bales lost out on a promotion to E7 - a first-class sergeant - the family hoped to go to either Germany, Italy or Hawaii for an "adventure," she said. They hoped to move by last summer; instead the Army redeployed his unit - the 2nd Infantry Division of the 3rd Stryker Brigade, named after armored Stryker vehicles - to Afghanistan.
It would be Bales' fourth tour in a war zone. He joined the military two months after 9/11 and spent more than three years in Iraq during three separate assignments since 2003. His attorney said he was injured twice in Iraq - once losing part of his foot - but his 20 or so commendations do not include the Purple Heart, given to soldiers wounded in combat.
Alexander said Bales wasn't injured while he oversaw him during their deployment - Bales' second in Iraq. He called Bales a "very solid" noncommissioned officer who didn't have more difficulty than his fellow soldiers with battlefield stress. Bales shot at a man aiming a rocket-propelled grenade at his platoon's vehicle in Mosul, Iraq, sending the grenade flying over the vehicle.
"There's no doubt he saved lives that day," Alexander said. The charges he killed civilians is "100 percent out of character for him," he said.
Bales always loved the military and war history, even as a teenager, said Berling, who played football with him in the early 1990s on a team that included Marc Edwards, a future NFL player and Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots.
"I remember him and the teacher just going back and forth on something like talking about the details of the Battle of Bunker Hill," he said. "He knew history, all the wars."
Bales exulted in the role once he finally achieved it. Plunged into battle in Iraq, he told an interviewer for a Fort Lewis base newspaper in 2009 that he and his comrades proved "the real difference between being an American as opposed to being a bad guy."
Bales joined the Army, Berling said, after studying business at Ohio State University - he attended three years but didn't graduate - and handled investments before the market downturn pushed him out of the business. Florida records??show that Bales was a director at an inactive company called Spartina Investments Inc. in Doral, Fla.; his brother, Mark Bales, and a Mark Edwards were also listed as directors.
"I guess he didn't like it when people lost money," Berling said.
He was struggling to keep payments on his own home in Lake Tapps, a rural reservoir community about 35 miles south of Seattle; his wife asked to put the house on the market three days before the shootings, real estate Philip Rodocker said.
"She told him she was behind in our payments," Rodocker told The New York Times. "She said he was on his fourth tour and it was getting kind of old and they needed to stabilize their finances."
The house was not officially put on the market until Monday; on Tuesday, Rodocker said, Bales' wife called and asked to take the house off the market, talking of a family emergency.
Bales and his wife bought the Lake Tapps home in 2005, according to records, for $280,000; it was listed this week at $229,000. Overflowing boxes were piled on the front porch, and a U.S. flag leaned against the siding.
The sale may have been a sign of financial troubles. Bales and his wife also own a home in Auburn, about 10 miles north, according to county records, but abandoned it about two years ago, homeowners' association president Bob Baggett said. Now signs posted on the front door and window by the city warn against occupying the house.
"It was ramshackled," Baggett said. "They were not dependable. When they left there were vehicles parts left on the front yard...we'd given up on the owners."
New details about the sergeant rippled across the country on Saturday.
"It's our Bobby. He was the local hero," said Michael Blevins, who grew up down the street from him in Norwood, Ohio. The youngest of five boys respected older residents, admonished troublemakers and loved children, even helping another boy in the area who had special needs.
In Washington state, court records showed a 2002 arrest for assault on a girlfriend. Bales pleaded not guilty and was required to undergo 20 hours of anger management counseling, after which the case was dismissed.
A separate hit-and-run charge was dismissed in Sumner, Wash.'s municipal court three years ago, according to records. It isn't clear from court documents what Bales hit; witnesses saw a man in a military-style uniform, with a shaved head and bleeding, running away.
When deputies found him in the woods, Bales told them he fell asleep at the wheel. He paid about $1,000 in fines and restitution and the case was dismissed in October 2009.
Dan Conway, a military attorney who represented one of four Lewis-McChord soldiers convicted in the deliberate killings of three Afghan civilians in 2010, said whether legal scrapes affect a soldier's career depends in part on whether they prompt the Army to issue administrative penalties. The punishments are typically recorded in official personnel files.
Over the past decade, Conway said, the military has sometimes been lax in administering such punishments. As a result, soldiers who might be bad apples sometimes remain in service longer than they otherwise might have.
"It's something you want to note," Conway said. "The best predictor of future violence is past violence."
Bales' lawyer, John Henry Browne of Seattle, said he didn't know if his client had been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder at the time of the shootings, but said it could be an issue at trial if experts believe it's relevant.
He also said Friday he didn't know if his client had been drinking the night of the massacre.
Browne didn't return telephone calls on Saturday. His legal team has said Browne will be meeting with Bales at Fort Leavenworth next week.
-----
Sewell reported from Norwood, Ohio. Also contributing were Associated Press writers Gene Johnson in Seattle, Manuel Valdes in Auburn, Wash., Haven Daley in Lake Tapps, Wash., Jennifer Kay in Miami and AP National Security Writer Robert Burns in Washington.
ę Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

http://www.military.com/news/article/the-complex-portrait-of-sgt-bales.html?ESRC=eb.nl


[linked image]"The chief aim of all government is to preserve the freedom of the citizen. His control over his person, his property, his movements, his business, his desires should be restrained only so far as the public welfare imperatively demands. The world is in more danger of being governed too much than too little.

It is the teaching of all history that liberty can only be preserved in small areas. Local self-government is, therefore, indispensable to liberty. A centralized and distant bureaucracy is the worst of all tyranny.

Taxation can justly be levied for no purpose other than to provide revenue for the support of the government. To tax one person, class or section to provide revenue for the benefit of another is none the less robbery because done under the form of law and called taxation."

John W. Davis, Democratic Presidential Candidate, 1924. Davis was one of the greatest trial and appellate lawyers in US history. He also served as the US Ambassador to the UK.
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March 19 2012, 4:50 PM 

I saw some stuff on the news about this guy over the weekend.. Showing pictures of him holding his children, playing with a dog, at a BBQ with friends, some smiling deployment pics, talking about what a great guy, and all around great American hero he was... never once mentioning the 9 children he slaughtered in cold blood.. It was sickening..

 
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Re: Many Willing to Cut Shooting Suspect Slack

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March 19 2012, 4:55 PM 

I find it all very troubling, as well. He was, apparently, a great guy, right up to the point he committed mass murder. These stories sort of remind me of Tezel's stuff on Hitler, showing him with dogs, children, etc. I don't know what set SGT Bales off, and, right now he's innoncent until proven guilty, but if the US proves he committed the crimes as alleged, he ought to be sentenced to the full extent of the law.


[linked image]"The chief aim of all government is to preserve the freedom of the citizen. His control over his person, his property, his movements, his business, his desires should be restrained only so far as the public welfare imperatively demands. The world is in more danger of being governed too much than too little.

It is the teaching of all history that liberty can only be preserved in small areas. Local self-government is, therefore, indispensable to liberty. A centralized and distant bureaucracy is the worst of all tyranny.

Taxation can justly be levied for no purpose other than to provide revenue for the support of the government. To tax one person, class or section to provide revenue for the benefit of another is none the less robbery because done under the form of law and called taxation."

John W. Davis, Democratic Presidential Candidate, 1924. Davis was one of the greatest trial and appellate lawyers in US history. He also served as the US Ambassador to the UK.
[linked image]

 
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Re: Many Willing to Cut Shooting Suspect Slack

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March 19 2012, 4:59 PM 

People are willing to cut him slack because they don't care about Afghan children or people.

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Re: Many Willing to Cut Shooting Suspect Slack

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March 19 2012, 8:17 PM 

I for one sure dont.

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Re: Many Willing to Cut Shooting Suspect Slack

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March 19 2012, 9:03 PM 

I heard a discussion on NPR (yeah yeah those fagotty nasty pinko commie tree hugging douche bags to all you right wingers wink.gif) and one point raised was sort of troubling.
Someone raised the point that if PTSD is a factor here for a professional soldier, then is it a factor in behavior of members of a society that has been under tremendous hardship and all sorts of stress for 30 years? When an Afghan does a terrible inhumane act, we immediately jump to the conclusion that his upbringing/religious views/social values/history are all contributing factors. Are we being 100% honest with ourselves ? If we take that into account for this guys, why is it that we don't take it into account for them?


    
This message has been edited by TheOtherFariborz on Mar 19, 2012 10:05 PM


 
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March 19 2012, 10:17 PM 

The media and their agenda has seen to it that you don't consider things like that.. wink.gif

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Re: Many Willing to Cut Shooting Suspect Slack

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March 19 2012, 11:07 PM 

I heard a discussion on NPR (yeah yeah those fagotty nasty pinko commie tree hugging douche bags to all you right wingers ) and one point raised was sort of troubling.
Someone raised the point that if PTSD is a factor here for a professional soldier, then is it a factor in behavior of members of a society that has been under tremendous hardship and all sorts of stress for 30 years? When an Afghan does a terrible inhumane act, we immediately jump to the conclusion that his upbringing/religious views/social values/history are all contributing factors. Are we being 100% honest with ourselves ? If we take that into account for this guys, why is it that we don't take it into account for them?
?

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Fair point and one i had never even thought of before. My reaction after seeing the stuff about how 'normal and decent' this guy had appeared before hand had been that he must have been completely insane when he did it and a different person to the one known and loved by his family and friends. To me anyone who does something like this has to be mentally unstable, its just so abhorrent. I'm not using that to excuse his actions, as he could also just be evil but that it does seem likely off the limited amount I've seen. If that is the case tben the people who missed his breakdown in mental health should be looking at their procedures and policies to make sure they're doing everything they can to prevent this happening again. They don't just owe it to the innocent Afghans but also to Bales and his family as if it is that he 'snapped' and this wasn't something he'd normally have done then they too have now become victims.

When you put it like that I've no doubt that a lot of the times when an Afghan has done something like this it could also be to do with PTSD or mental illness and perhaps we're just not hearing all the facts. However i'd want to know they hadn't been planning this for some time as an al quaeda/taliban sleeper and that it was just a case of having lost it, not a long premeditated act. I guess also, as hard as this maybe to swallow at the time, this is probably something for the Afghan authorities to deal with. As a civilised country the US should (and I'm sure will) not allow this sort of thing to go unpunished and that is all they can do. Of course the natural reaction is going to be slightly different depending on which side of the conflict you sit when something as terrible as this happens and i think its probably human nature to look at it in a more black and white sense when this sort of act is committed by the 'bad guys'. Your point proves though we do need to be very careful in doing this and is a perfect case of why fair and just law is so hard. I'd imagine my natural reaction were something similar to have been carried out by an afghan against my countrymen would not be too nice if i saw it being defended by people siting PTSD/mental trauma, so anyone/system brave enough to let this stand would have my admiration when i think logically - and condemnation when i think from my heart!!!

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Re: Many Willing to Cut Shooting Suspect Slack

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March 21 2012, 11:30 PM 

hahahaha, apparently this caring family man and good neighbor joined the army to avoid a 1.5Mil fraud judgment.

http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/03/21/usa-afghanistan-soldier-fraud-idINDEE82K0GY20120321

(Reuters) - The U.S. soldier accused of killing 16 civilians in Afghanistan left for war without paying a $1.5 million judgment for defrauding an elderly client in a stock scheme, and remains shielded from the obligation as long as he remains in the military, legal experts said.



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Re: Many Willing to Cut Shooting Suspect Slack

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March 22 2012, 7:48 AM 

^^Can you explain why that makes you so happy? Why is having this man be "evil" better than having him be a regular guy who snapped under combat induced stress? I can understand a Muslim wishing that, because it makes the "enemy" appear that much more reprehensible, but why would a white Canadian have a similar outlook? I'm really curious to understand the mind of a leftist, so indulge me.

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Brendan
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Re: Many Willing to Cut Shooting Suspect Slack

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March 23 2012, 12:56 AM 

I'm not especially happy, I just think it's hilarious about how the US media talks about how he "loved his kids", (Wow, what a hero) then makes no mention whatsoever of the tiny issue of a 1.5 million fraud judgment, and how the only reason he joined the army was to avoid it (I guess that's why he never complained about the "sacrifice" required of him, lol).

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