Lawmaker wants details on brain injuries of alleged Afghan shooter

In a letter sent to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Tuesday, Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) requested the department disclose all information "surrounding the injury, brain injury diagnosis, evaluation, and reinstatement of the soldier who allegedly committed these crimes." The solider, who has yet to be identified by the U.S. military, randomly shot and killed 16 Afghans — including nine children — on Sunday in a village near the base where he was stationed. After the incident, the solider turned himself in to military authorities at the base. 

The suspect is reported to have served four tours in Iraq before being deployed to Afghanistan, and might have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury during his time in Iraq, according to news reports. Pascrell, who is the co-chairman of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, told Panetta in the letter that it is "critical" to find out what kind of treatment the soldier was given for his injuries and to ensure that "the needs of our injured soldiers are being properly met." 

ADVERTISEMENT
On Tuesday, senators said there wasn’t enough information yet to make judgments about whether the soldier's injuries played into his decision to kill innocent civilians.

“We don't know. Something snapped inside him, tragically,” Sen Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said “it was possible" that the Army shooter was affected by his numerous deployments in Iraq and suffered from traumatic brain injury. “But having said that, I do not know for sure,” she added.

The shootings were only latest in a recent wave of violent incidents that have put U.S.-Afghan tensions at an all time high. Last month, coalition forces set off a wave of violence in the country after American troops accidentally burned Qurans at an Air Force base. Two high-ranking U.S. officers were killed inside the Afghan Interior Ministry during the week-long protest. Last April, a colonel with the Afghan air force shot several U.S. Air Force officers at Bagram Air Base in Kandahar.

The incidents have prompted war critics to demand an early withdrawal of American troops from the country. American forces are slated to leave Southwest Asia by 2014. However, the Obama administration on Tuesday dismissed any notion that the White House was considering an early pull out from Afghanistan, reiterating that the United States will remain in the country until the 2014 deadline.  

More in Defense

US operation of Afghan prisons ends

Read more »