Department Of Defense Declines To Release Investigation Into Bales' Command

Feb 6, 2014

The Department of Defense has denied a request by reporters for information about Staff Sergeant Robert Bales’ murder of 16 Afghan civilians.

Bales pleaded guilty to the murders in August during a court martial proceeding at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. He’s serving a life sentence in Leavenworth, Kan.

Bales was on his fourth deployment in March 2012 when he committed the murders.

After the massacre, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan ordered an investigation into the climate of Bales’ unit in southern Afghanistan. At the time, Major General George Allen said he wanted information about circumstances that could have permitted Bales to leave his base twice to commit the murders.

The denial from the Department of Defense says the document is not releasable because the Army has not taken “final action” on Bales’ court-martial, which concluded in August.

Corps spokesman Col. Dave Johnson at Joint Base Lewis-McChord said court-martial convening authority Lt. Gen. Robert Brown still needs to consider the sentence, supporting evidence and any appeals for clemency before signing off.

KUOW has appealed the decision. 

Johnson said due to the complexity of the case it could take another two months for the Corps to complete the paperwork.

The Pentagon also has not responded to a joint request from KUOW, the Tacoma News Tribune and the Associated Press to publicly release the document.

During the court martial, Bales admitted to drinking alcohol prior to the shooting spree, which is against military regulations in a war zone. Bales also admitted to using illegal steroids.