The trial of a U.S. soldier who allegedly killed 16 Afghan civilians should be tried by the American military -- not by Afghans, several prominent senators said Tuesday.
Sens. John Kerry and John McCain, leaders on foreign affairs and military issues in the senate, rejected calls from Afghan lawmakers that the alleged soldier-turned-gunman be tried in Afghanistan.
"Of course it should be held in the United States," McCain told reporters Tuesday, visibly agitated by the notion that the 38-year-old Army staff sergeant's coming trial would be held in a public venue on Afghan soil.
Yet, that is precisely what the lower chamber of Afghanistan's parliament wants.
"We seriously demand and expect that the government of the United States punish the culprits and try them in a public trial before the people of Afghanistan," the Afghan House of Representatives said in a statement. The lower chamber also said the Afghan "people are running out of patience over the ignorance of foreign forces."
The U.S. soldier allegedly slipped away undetected from his base in southwestern Afghanistan early Sunday and began breaking into nearby homes where he slaughtered 16 Afghans, mostly women and children.
Kerry offered a more nuanced view, saying the trial "should happen where the United States military has jurisdiction."
Kerry and other senators called Tuesday for Pentagon officials to expedite the trial in an attempt to show the Afghan people that the United States will ensure justice is served.
"We need to move very rapidly to charge any individual" in a process "which the Afghan people can see is serious," Kerry said.
Sen. Scott Brown, a judge advocate general for the National Guard, told DOTMIL the military has a process under which some cases can be expedited.
"We have our own way of trial soldiers. We have a very fair trial process, and we can handle it on our own," Brown says. "He should be treated like any other soldier. He's going to be tried as quickly and as fairly as possible."
Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told DOTMIL the location of the trial is "up to the authorities" within the military's chain of command.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she has yet to decide whether the alleged gunman should be tried in the United States or Afghanistan.
"I can't make that judgement until I see the results of the investigation," which is already being conducted by the Army, she said.
Feinstein expressed shock that the soldier could "broken into three homes and killed nine children."
Reports indicate the U.S. soldier had suffered a traumatic brain injury in Iraq, but had been cleared and sent to combat in Afghanistan.
Asked if sending a solider back into combat one year after suffering such a battlefield injury is too short of a timeline, Feinstein said "it probably is too soon."
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney insisted Monday the Obama administration will stay the course in its plans for the decade-old conflict. Carney said President Obama's strategy of beating down al Qaeda while preventing the Taliban from regaining control is not tied to "any single event."
There was scant evidence on Capitol Hill that the alleged mass homicide will cause senators to change their positions on whether the U.S. should remove all its troops by Obama's 2014 goal, or keep them there indefinitely.
"We're not going to be basing our policy on what one soldier has done," Brown says.