The Envoy
  • Speaking in South Korea Monday, President Barack Obama warned the leaders of North Korea and Iran that their nuclear programs undermine their nations' security, and urged them to give their citizens the benefits of peace.

    "The United States has no hostile intent toward your country," Obama said in remarks Monday at South Korea's Hankuk University, addressing the leadership in Pyongyang.

    "But by now it should be clear, your provocations and pursuit of nuclear weapons have not achieved the security you seek, they have undermined it," Obama said. "And today we say, Pyongyang, have the courage to pursue peace and give a better life to the North Korean people."

    Obama also urged Iran's leaders to seize the chance for a diplomatic resolution at the upcoming nuclear talks next month.

    "There is time to solve this diplomatically, but time is short," he said. "Iran must act with the seriousness and sense of urgency that this moment demands."

    Read More »from Obama warns North Korea on rocket launch: ‘Have the courage to pursue peace’
  • The wife of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales said Monday she finds the crimes of which her husband stands accused "unbelievable." Bales was formally charged Friday with the premeditated murder of 17 Afghan civilians, including 9 children and a pregnant woman, as well as other attempted murders and assaults.

    "He loves children, he's like a big kid himself," Karilyn Bales, 38, told the NBC Today Show's Matt Lauer in an interview Monday. "I have no idea what happened, but he would not ... he loves children, and he would not do that."

    Karilyn Bales, 38, the mother of Bales' two children, ages 3 and 4, from Lake Tapps, Washington, said her husband had not shown signs of PTSD after his three previous deployments to Iraq. She saw no signs he was having nightmares, for instance.

    "He shielded me from a lot of what he went through," she said, according to the Associated Press. "He's a very tough guy."

    Karilyn Bales' comments come as it emerged Monday that the 17th murder victim Bales is accused of killing was an unborn baby. "The Americans are right and one of the females was pregnant, which is why they are saying 17," Kandahar province police chief Brig. Gen. Abdul Raziq told the New York Times.

    Pentagon investigators believe Bales set off twice from his base in Kandahar Province early on March 11, killing a dozen people in one village, before returning to his base and setting off for a second nearby village where he slaughtered another family asleep in their home.

    Read More »from Wife of Robert Bales on his alleged shooting of Afghan children: ‘He would not do that’
  • U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was formally charged Friday with 17 counts of premeditated murder, six counts of attempted murder, and six counts of assault. The formal accusations come almost two weeks after Bales allegedly walked door to door on the morning of March 11 and shot Afghan civilians asleep in their homes in the village of Belambey, in southern Afghanistan; after the killings he attempted to burn the bodies. His victims included nine children, one of whom was only two years old.

    It's the worst atrocity that an American soldier has been accused of committing against Afghan civilians in the ten-year-old war in Afghanistan. If convicted by a military court, Bales could face the death penalty, or a minimum sentence of life with the possibility of parole.

    Bales, 38, was read the charges at the U.S. military's prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he has been held for the past week, the Pentagon said.

    While it had previously been widely reported that there were 16 people killed in the March 11 attacks in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, American military investigators have apparently found evidence that there were 17 people killed, a U.S. military official in Afghanistan said.

    "The reason for 17 vs 16 counts of murder is that the investigators felt that after they had collected the necessary evidence that they had justification to charge SSG Bales with 17 counts," Col. Gary Kolb, a spokesman for the U.S.-led ISAF command in Afghanistan, told Yahoo News by email Friday. "I will reiterate that the investigation and collection of evidence is ongoing."

    A copy of the charges filed against Bales Friday, which were filed under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), sent to Pentagon journalists by Bales' home base of Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington state, appear to redact the names of those he is accused of killing, describing them as female or male civilians or children appearing to be of Afghan descent.

    Bales' civilian Seattle lawyer, John Henry Browne, has indicated he will question the Army's decision to deploy Bales to Afghanistan in December with a concussive brain injury sustained on his third tour in Iraq. "Some people do six or seven tours, but the question is whether the last tour was too much for someone with a concussive brain injury," he told journalists in Lansing, Kansas, last week, ahead of meeting with Bales in Leavenworth.

    He said Bales has only a hazy memory of what transpired the night in question. Pentagon officials said that alcohol was found in Bales' living area, but Browne has not indicated if he believed it played a role in Bales' alleged acts.

    But the charges of premeditated murder indicate that military prosecutors "plan to argue that he consciously conceived the killings," MSNBC reported. "A military legal official for U.S. forces in Afghanistan who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the case, noted that premeditated murder is not something that has to have been contemplated for a long time."

    Read More »from Sgt. Robert Bales charged on 17 counts of premeditated murder


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