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Pentagon Disputes Bales' Account of Friend Being Wounded, Losing Leg

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"Massouma, who lives in the neighboring village of Najiban, where 12 people were killed, said she heard helicopters fly overhead as a uniformed soldier entered her home. She said he flashed a "big, white light," and yelled, "Taliban! Taliban! Taliban!"

Massouma said the soldier shouted "walkie-talkie, walkie-talkie." The rules of engagement in hostile areas in Afghanistan permit US soldiers to shoot Afghans holding walkie-talkies because they could be Taliban spotters.

"He had a radio antenna on his shoulder. He had a walkie-talkie himself, and he was speaking into it," she said."

Contradicting repeated statements in news reports that villagers could have confused multiple men with flashlights with the search party for Bales are reports that Bales was found right outside the base compound, and that the search party never left the area of the base.

The NY Times quoted Afghan Gen. Abdul Hameed, the corps commander for the Afghan National Army in Kandahar:

   "When American commanders became aware that a soldier was missing, they first checked sleeping quarters, toilets and the kitchen area before organizing a patrol to look outside the compound, General Hameed said. But before the patrol left, a high-powered infrared camera on a small blimp spotted Sergeant Bales nearby."

CNN reports:

   "About 3:30 a.m., the official said, a surveillance camera spotted Bales returning to the base, and the search team found him just outside the compound."

3:30 a.m. corresponds to about the time that, according to the Pentagon's most recent account, Bales was first reported missing from the base by an Afghan guard.

Bales' attorney accuses the Pentagon of denying the defense team access to five surviving wounded eyewitnesses.  The attorney, John Henry Browne, said in a statement:

  "We are facing an almost complete information blackout from the government, which is having a devastating effect on our ability to investigate the charges preferred against our client...When we tried to interview the injured civilians being treated at Kandahar Hospital we were denied access and told to coordinate with the prosecution team. The next day the prosecution team interviewed the civilian injured. We found out shortly after the prosecution interviews of the injured civilians that the civilians were all released from the hospital and there was no contact information for them,"

Bales' attorney told the LA Times:

 "People on our staff in Afghanistan went to the hospital where there supposedly were eyewitnesses to this " and we were told by the prosecutors to come back the next day, which is fine. We went back the next day, and they'd all been released from the hospital and they'd all been scattered throughout Afghanistan. That was a violation of the trust we had in the prosecutors,"..."They were promised to be there, and they were not," he said, adding that there isn't much hope of finding the witnesses now. "People just disappear into the Afghan countryside.""

Many victims of the rampage were not only shot, but stabbed as well.  The McClatchy April 4 report states:

"A few journalists were taken the short distance to a nearby house at Najiban, where at least 11 of the victims were shot and stabbed."

Bales' unit, the 2nd Infantry Division, is the same unit out of Ft. Lewis-McChord in Washington state from which the infamous killings of Afghans for "sport" emanated last year, in which a number of soldiers were prosecuted , the Maywand District Murders.   It is the most troubled base in the US military, according to statistics on soldier suicides and violence.

MSNBC Broadcast of Dateline SBC interviews with child witnesses

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Ralph Lopez majored in Economics and Political Science at Yale University. He writes for Truth Out, Alternet, Consortium News, Op-Ed News, and other Internet media. He reported from Afghanistan in 2009 and produced a short documentary film on the (more...)
 
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It is very clear that this was not the work of a s... by Michael Germain on Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 2:29:26 PM