Sergeant in Afghan Massacre "Was Drinking"

By McCarton Ackerman 03/16/12

An anonymous US official says alcohol, stress and marital tensions influenced the soldier accused of murdering 16 Afghan civilians.

What was going in on the suspect's head?

The American staff sergeant suspected of murdering 16 Afghan villagers in their homes had been drinking alcohol on the night of the massacre—a violation of military rules in combat zones—according to a senior American official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the suspect has not yet been formally charged. It's the strongest indication yet that the sergeant was drunk, adding to previous accusations from local witnesses. The official believes the sergeant's actions were likely due to a combination of alcohol, stress on his fourth combat tour and tensions with his wife about the deployments. "He just snapped," says the official."There will be questions raised about his emotional and mental stability for a fourth deployment." The military is preparing to move the sergeant to a US-based prison as early as today after officials in Kuwait expressed outrage at his being moved to a US base there. The statements made by the US military in response to the massacre have been heavily scrutinized. Despite their reports that it was carried out by one man, Afghan witnesses claim that several US soldiers were involved, all of whom were drunk. A lawyer retained by the soldier's family denies any marital tensions, saying the official's anonymous statement is "baseless." The sergeant has refused to speak to investigators, invoking his right to a lawyer shortly after he surrendered on returning to base following the shootings.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.