The military waited six days before releasing the name of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians earlier this month. One of the reasons for the somewhat unusual delay: to give the military enough time to erase the sergeant from the internet — or at least try to.
That’s according to several Pentagon officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to McClatchy newspapers about the subject. The scrubbed material included photographs of Bales from the military’s official photo and video distribution website, along with quotes by the 38-year-old sergeant in the Joint Base Lewis-McChord newspaper regarding a 2007 battle in Iraq “which depicts Bales and other soldiers in a glowing light.”
The sergeant’s wife, Karilyn Bales, and their two young children were also moved onto Lewis-McChord, reportedly for their protection. Her blog, titled “The Bales Family” about her life as a mother and military spouse, was removed although it’s not known how, precisely. The military’s reasoning for the blackout: protecting the privacy of the accused and his family.
“Protecting a military family has to be a priority,” a Pentagon official told McClatchy. “I think the feeding frenzy we saw after his name was released was evidence that we were right to try.”