The U.S. Marine Corps has laid the groundwork for deciding what disciplinary action will be taken in the case of an Internet video that appears to show Marine snipers urinating on dead bodies of suspected Afghan Taliban fighters. The top Marine officer, General James Amos, appointed three-star General Thomas Waldhauser to oversee the case. Waldhauser named another officer to do an internal Marine Corps investigation, which is in addition to a criminal probe under way by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
The Pentagon says two of the four Marines seen in the video have been identified, but has not released their names. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has called for the U.S. government to conduct an independent investigation into the behavior of the soldiers in the video, which has stoked anger among many Afghans. U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta called the video “utterly deplorable” and ordered a high-level probe into the incident, which has been condemned by other White House officials and politicians. “Those found to have engaged in such conduct will be held accountable to the fullest extent,” said the Secretary of Defense, who advised the commander of western troops in Afghanistan to launch their own investigation. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed “total dismay” at the video, calling it “deplorable behavior” and “absolutely inconsistent with the standards of behavior that the vast majority of Marines hold themselves to.” “Anyone, anyone found to have participated or know about it, having engaged in such conduct, must be held fully accountable,” said Secretary Clinton.
While the nature of the charges brought against the men are unclear, desecrating bodies is a crime under U.S. military law and the Geneva conventions. In response to the growing diplomatic storm surrounding the situation, the deputy commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Lt. General Curtis Scaparrotti, said in a message to troops on January 13 that defiling, desecrating, mocking, photographing or filming for personal use insurgent dead constitutes a grave breach” of the laws that are currently governing armed conflict.
The video has brought about a firestorm of comment and controversy on television and electronic media on the advisability of the actions by the Marines involved. Some observers such to explain their behaviour as being a part of war. Republican Congressman Allen West, an ex-Army lieutenant colonel, denounced non-military people who criticize the Leathernecks, “…unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth, war is hell.” Comedian Bill Maher, who is not Republican, said on January 13 of the incident, "A dead body is just, you know a f***ing body that's dead and it just doesn't bother me,' on his HBO show Real Time With Bill Maher. "If they were real Taliban, if they were people who burned down girls' schools, and, you know, do honor rapes and throw acid in people's faces, I'm not that upset about pissing on them," he added.
Dana Loesch, a conservative CNN contributor speaking on Missouri radio, said of the video "C'mon people, this is a war." Loesch said on her radio show "Do I have a problem with that as a citizen of the United States? No, I don't." She, like Maher, said if given the opportunity she would emulate the Marines depicted. "Can someone explain to me if there is supposed to be a scandal that someone pees on the corpse of a Taliban fighter -- someone who as part of an organization murdered over 3,000 Americans," she said on her radio show. "I'd drop trou and do it too. That's me, though…Come on people this is a war."