Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton expresses her dismay at emerging reports of U.S. Marines allegedly desecrating the bodies of Taliban fighters killed in Afghanistan, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012, during a news conference with Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci, at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
WASHINGTON (AP) — Pentagon leaders scrambled Thursday to contain damage from an Internet video purporting to show four Marines urinating on Taliban corpses — an act that appears to violate international laws of warfare and further strains U.S.-Afghan relations.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called Afghan President Hamid Karzai to offer assurances of a full investigation and the top Marine general promised an internal probe as well as a criminal one. Investigators moved quickly to identify and interview at least two of the four Marines. They were members of a battalion that fought for seven months in former Taliban strongholds in southern Afghanistan.
Their unit, the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, returned from Helmand province to its home base at Camp Lejeune, N.C., last September. Marine officials said that a battalion officer confirmed to investigators on Thursday, based on his examination of the video, that the four men depicted urinating had been members of the battalion. Two have since moved on to other units.
As the video spread across the Internet in postings and re-postings, U.S. officials joined with Afghans in calling it shocking, deplorable, inhumane and a breach of military standards of conduct. It shows men in Marine combat gear standing in a semicircle urinating on the bodies of three men in standard Afghan clothing, one whose chest was covered in blood.
It’s not certain whether the dead were Taliban fighters, civilians or someone else.
The incident will likely further hurt ties with Karzai’s Login to read more