A report released Wednesday by McClatchy Newspapers claims that the United States military tried to remove references to Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the soldier accused of shooting 16 civilians in Afghanistan, from its websites.
"Protecting a military family has to be a priority," an anonymous official told McClatchy. "I think the feeding frenzy we saw after his name was released was evidence that we were right to try."
Despite the alleged efforts to wipe Bales information from the Internet, cached websites and images remained accessible, McClatchy reports, including published photos, a battle account and excerpts from his wife's private blog.
A senior military official identified Bales as the alleged shooter on Friday, March 16, five days after the incident, and the Army provided basic information about the soldier.
As details about Robert Bales, his life, and his family emerged, those who knew him grappled with understanding how Bales could allegedly massacre Afghan civilians. On Wednesday, Karilyn Bales issued a statement offering her condolences to the families of the victims.
The military claims it knew the online information about Bales would continue to be available, but a second anonymous official confirmed to McClatchy that a delay in releasing Bales' name stemmed from first wanting to remove his Army service history from the Internet.
The publisher also proposes that the military may have tried to scrub the Web in anticipation of a military trial. Bales is currently being held in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., awaiting charges in the Army's maximum-security prison.
Read McClatchy's full report here. See photos from the incident below: