First, Justin Stoner blew the whistle on his platoon. Now, the Army apparently wants to silence him.
In photos obtained by CNN, Stoner sports bruises and abrasions on his back, chest and near his neck - the marks of a beating inflicted by fellow soldiers as payback for reporting their rampant hashish use, the Army said.
At the time, those close to the investigation tell CNN, Stoner just wanted the smoking in his tent and around him to stop. So he went outside his group and reported the drug use to his superiors.
But that move, and the subsequent beating he endured for being viewed as a snitch, triggered a wide-ranging criminal investigation that has left some soldiers accused of killing innocent Afghan civilians and others accused of posing in gruesome photos with the dead or keeping body parts as war trophies.
COMBAT OUTPOST DURANI, AFGHANISTAN (CNN) — The armed Black Hawk helicopter lands along an open road in a remote valley. A small group of U.S. soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade kneel in the underbrush, weapons ready. They secure the landing zone for the less than one minute the chopper will be on the ground as we jump out quickly.
From the landing strip, it's a short climb up the hill to Combat Outpost Durani where just a couple of dozen soldiers are manning the post.
The first thing the soldiers tell us is everything is pretty calm in this region. But when I ask when is the last time the base got hit, they acknowledge there was enemy fire just the night before.
But this outpost is all about everything but combat. The small number of troops on this remote hillside are really on the front line of the U.S. counterinsurgency strategy for the war in Afghanistan. FULL POST