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Soldier Attorney On Gravity Of Case; FBI Warns Of Retaliation

Sara Lerner

The still unnamed US soldier accused in the killings of 16 Afghan civilians will soon be flown to a military prison in Kansas, possibly today. As KUOW's Sara Lerner reports, his civilian attorney John Henry Browne says the potential sentencing could be serious.

Ed. update: A US official has identified the soldier accused in the killings of 16 Afghan civilians last weekend as Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales of Lake Tapps. [03/17/2012]


The death penalty is on the table. The soldier was based at Joint Base Lewis–McChord. Browne says this event is delicate.

Browne: "We understand our government's concern about it. We certainly understand the concern of Afghanistan and its people. So this is a pretty huge case from the standpoint of ramifications. It's not just a regular criminal case."

Browne says the soldier has a brain injury from combat and has lost part of his foot. He and his family were told his tours were over. And Browne says they weren't happy when he found out he was going to be redeployed.

Meanwhile, on Thursday the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued an internal bulletin warning against retaliation. Ayn Dietrich is a spokesperson for the FBI in Seattle. She says on Sunday, after the attacks, soldiers and all kinds of civilians were voicing concerns about retaliation. And that same concern is the gist of this message.

Dietrich: "Given recent events in Afghanistan, we just thought it was prudent to remind our partners that this could lead to other homegrown violent extremists plotting on military institutions here. We have no specific credible information at this time pointing to an imminent attack, which is why this wasn't a warning for the public, this was a reminder for the internal community."

Dietrich says a similar bulletin was released before the anniversary of 9/11.

I'm Sara Lerner, KUOW News.

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