This still video image was taken from YouTube Video via MSNBC. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has condemned a video that apparently shows U.S. Marines urinating on the corpses of Afghan men, promising to punish those involved.
Military officials are concerned a controversial video showing Marines urinating on Taliban corpses could put troops in Afghanistan, including those from Camp Pendleton, in danger.
In the video, men in Marine combat gear stand in a semi-circle urinating on the bodies of three men in standard Afghan clothing, one whose chest was covered in blood.
Investigators confirmed the Marines involved were not from Camp Pendleton but were members of a sniper unit from Camp Lejeune, N.C., who had served in Afghanistan last year.
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 put further strains U.S.-Afghan relations.
“First of all, on behalf of the Marine Corps, they deserve some accolades,” NBC Chief Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski told NBCSanDiego. “I’ve never seen them respond so swiftly and aggressively.”
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.
“Everybody I’ve talked to finds it disgusting,” Miklaszewski added.
The one big concern is that the Taliban would urge more military attacks against U.S. military in Afghanistan.
“They fear there may be serious backlash. They’re holding their breath,” he added.
The men in the video have been positively identified. Two were interviewed in the U.S. Thursday. Two had been transferred to other units. One may be currently in Afghanistan Miklaszewski said.
Pentagon officials said the criminal investigation would likely look into whether the Marines violated laws of war, which include prohibitions against photographing or mishandling bodies and detainees.
It also appeared to violate the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice, which governs conduct. Thus, some or all of the four Marines could face a military court martial or other disciplinary action.
If tried and convicted, the Marines could face some jail time.
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