MRE_150Washington, D.C.—On July 6, Military Reporters and Editors, the Society of Professional Journalists and Northwestern University’s National Security Journalism Initiative sent a joint letter to Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of U.S. Central Command, requesting the immediate declassification of the investigation into Staff Sgt. Robert Bales’ killing spree in Afghanistan in March 2012.

We originally sent the letter to Army Secretary John McHugh last month, but the Army referred us to U.S. Central Command.

Here is the Army’s official response from Brig. Gen. Malcolm Frost, chief of Army public affairs:

“The Secretary of the Army has asked me to respond to your June 19, 2015 letter concerning the Staff Sgt. Bales 15-6 investigation conducted by CENTCOM. The Army is not the appropriate department to address your inquiry. The Army does not have authority to release the CENTCOM investigation.

“As a military reporter and/or editor you are aware that CENTCOM is a unified
combatant command, subject to the authority, direction, and control of the
Secretary of Defense. The Secretary of the Army is not part of CENTCOM’s
operational chain of command and thus cannot require CENTCOM to release
documents under FOIA. The authority to release the 15-6 must come from
CENTCOM’s chain of command.

“The investigation the U.S. Army does have purview over was conducted by U.S.
Army CID. Numerous media outlets have submitted FOIA requests for information pertaining to that investigation. Those requests were answered and
investigative reports or summaries were released as appropriate.”

Attached is the letter sent in PDF format.