Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who was convicted of the murder of 16 villagers including seven children in Afghanistan in 2012, says in a recent letter that he lost his compassion for both Iraqis and Afghans over the period of his four combat deployments.
The letter was sent to the senior Army officer at Join Base Lewis-McChord. In the letter in which he asked that his life sentence be reduced, he also said his mind was consumed with war. Bales also said:
A Tacoma Washington newspaper obtained the eight-page letter through the Freedom of Information Act. Bales, of Lake Tapps, Washington, was married with two children of his own. He shot 22 people in all with 17 of them being women and children in two villages near Kandahar on March 2012. One account of the events can be found here.
Bales pleaded guilty to the charges against him in a deal to avoid the death penalty and also apologized at his sentencing in 2013. Bales also described himself as being in a perpetual rage, and admitted he drank heavily and relied on sleeping pills to get to sleep. He also confessed that he was paranoid about losing his men. He came to hate and be suspicious of everyone who was not an American, especially local residents.
Bales' description of himself fits well with some of the narrative in the appended video by an Australian journalist. The Americans tried to prevent her from interviewing victims. Testimony in the video by local residents often claim that there were a number of Americans involved not just Bales. The Afghan investigator interviewed in the video also claims that to be the case. The US has always insisted that Bales acted alone. Bales was whisked out of the country before he could be interviewed by Afghan authorities about the incident. There were many demonstrations after the massacre and it was several days before U.S. officials could even reach the two villages which were the scene of the massacre.
'I planted war and hate for the better part of ten years and harvested violence. After being in prison two years, I understand that what I thought was normal was the farthest thing from being normal.'