[Video Documentary] Afghanistan – 10 Years of Failure & Oppression
WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) – Even as top U.S. defense officials and leaders of NATO combat forces in Afghanistan have condemned a video posted on YouTube and other Internet sites showing what appears to be American forces in Afghanistan urinating on dead Taliban soldiers as “despicable” some political commentators and at least one Republican presidential candidate have made excuses for the desecration according to published reports.
The video shows four men in camouflage Marine combat uniforms urinating on three corpses. One of them jokes: “Have a nice day, buddy.” Another makes a lewd joke about a “shower.”
The Marine Corps named an investigative officer to decide whether any charges will be brought against the four Marines who are believed to be members of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, which is based in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, at the time of the incident, a Marine Corps official told Reuters, adding the Marine Corps believed the images were authentic. That unit served in Afghanistan from March to September 2011, said the Marine Corps official who requested anonymity. The U.S. has identified two of the four Marines in the video so far.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other members of the Obama administration have denounced the action by the Marines.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the video, describing the men’s actions as “inhuman” and calling, in a statement, for an investigation.
Mr. Panetta telephoned President Karzai to denounce the actions in the video as “deplorable” and to say it would be investigated immediately, according to the Pentagon. General Martin Dempsey, the top U.S. military officer, said actions depicted in the video were illegal. But the Pentagon stopped short of offering an official confirmation that the video was real and Mr. Panetta said there was not yet a “firm conclusion” on the matter.
“The danger obviously is this kind of video could be misused in many ways not only to undermine what we are trying to do in Afghanistan but undermine the potential for reconciliation. There is a danger there,” Mr. Panetta told reporters on a trip to Texas.
“But I think if we move quickly–if we conduct this investigation and hold these people accountable–we send a clear signal to the world that the U.S. is not going to tolerate that kind of behavior and it doesn’t represent the United States as a whole.”
But Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican presidential candidate accused the Obama administration of over-reacting to the incident. “These kids made a mistake. There’s not any doubt about it. They shouldn’t have done it. It’s bad,” Mr. Perry told CNN‘s “State of the Union” program. “But to call it a criminal act, I think, is over the top,” said Mr. Perry.
Mr. Perry, a former Air Force pilot, said the four Marines should be appropriately punished. “But going after them as a criminal act, I think (is) really a bad message.”
“Defiling, desecrating, mocking, photographing or filming for personal use insurgent dead constitutes a grave breach of the (law of armed conflict),” Lieutenant General Curtis Scaparrotti, who heads day-to-day Afghan operations, wrote to his troops after the incident was publicized.
“Well it is difficult to say what long term impact this will might have and I would not get into speculation,” said NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) spokesperson Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson, according to reports. “But obviously any sort of footage, any sort of activity of this kind that is grossly against all the moral values that the coalition forces are standing for.”
The video will likely arouse already strong anti-U.S. sentiment in Afghanistan after 10 years of a war that has seen other cases of abuse, such as reportedly cutting off the ears and fingers of dead enemy combatants to be kept as souvenirs. “Such action will leave a very, very bad impact on peace efforts,” Arsala Rahmani, a senior member of the Afghan government’s High Peace Council, told Reuters.
Anti-American feeling has boiled over several times in Afghanistan in recent years. Protests over reports of the desecration of the Holy Qur’an have twice sparked deadly riots there.
The tape also sparked anger across the Middle East and in Internet chat rooms, prompting reference to earlier scandals involving U.S. soldiers’ treatment of prisoners in Iraq and the killing of unarmed civilians in Afghanistan.
“This is the embodiment of the strong assaulting the weak. It’s nothing new for the Americans, it only adds to what they have done in Abu Ghraib prison. This is a breach of the sacredness of Islam and Muslims,” said Othman al-Busaifi, 45, in Tripoli according to a published report.
The U.S. military has been prosecuting soldiers from the Army’s 5th Stryker Brigade on charges of murdering unarmed Afghan civilians while deployed in Kandahar province in 2010 and cutting off body parts as war trophies.
Afghanistan: A war with no end (FCN, 10-14-2010)
Ignoring bad news won’t win Afghan War (FCN, 08-09-2010)
Security Council talks peace, but costly war rages in Afghanistan (FCN, 07-09-2010)
Afghan mineral wealth story raises eyebrows over timing (FCN, 07-01-2010)
Is Oil The Motive For War (FCN, Minister Farrakhan, 02-17-2002)
Afghanistan, the Taliban and the United States (Media Monitors Network, 05-02-2001)
FinalCall.com Exclusive Interview with Taliban Ambassador (FCN, 01-09-2001)
Taliban in Texas for talks on gas pipeline (BBC News, 12-04-1997)