An eye-opening video clip that made it online Wednesday may cause a scandal on par with what erupted with the Abu Ghraib photographs of 2004. Now US Marines have been caught on film - urinating on dead Afghans.
A 40-second excerpt of the clip has managed to made its web to the Web and in it viewers can watch four US Marines on patrol in Afghanistan allegedly urinating on the corpses of deceased Afghan men. It is unclear of the victims’ identities in this incident, but according to a note included with the uploaded file, the US servicemen were members of the Marine Scout Sniper Team 4 and the 3rd Battalion 2nd Marines from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The group was dispatched to the northern Helmand Province in Afghanistan during the summer of 2011.
Ten years after beginning military operations in Afghanistan, the US military still maintains an active presence there, making it the longest continuous war in American history. President Obama has vowed to bring back troops in full by 2014, but this event could cause widespread outrage against the military operation, with the latest incident increasing tensions unmatched since the Abu Ghraib scandal of years’ past.
Earlier in the War on Terror, American troops were caught grossly mishandling prisoners at the Abu Ghraib detention facility in Baghdad, Iraq, humiliating, injuring and subjecting them to clearly inhumane conditions that resulted in at least one death. Nearly eight years later, the event and the photographs and videos to come out of it are among the most notorious notches in terms of America’s inability to control its own military in the policing of the world.
In the Abu Ghraib incidents, US troops were revealed to torture and chastise prisoners who were serving as living detainees with the institute’s walls. In the latest clip, however, Americans are shown not just disrespecting the alleged enemy, but failing to honor those that lost their lives in the name of war.
One of the American servicemen is heard in the clip announcing, “Have a great day, buddy,” while he relieves himself on the body of a slain Afghan. “Golden like a shower” snickers another.
According to Camp Lejeune’s official US military website, its mission is “to maintain combat-ready units for expeditionary deployment.” In October 2011, the Marine Corps finished a $20 million investment in Camp Lejeune, in turn transitioning the facility into a 32,000-square-foot recreation of Afghan turf.
"In the Marine Corps, we call this graduate-level training," Col. Dan Lecce, commander of the camp, told the News & Observer back then. Now, however, the US Marine Corps will investigate how the troops got away with this despicable act and try to nip the blowback in the bud before tensions between the US and Afghanistan worsen anymore.
While the exact identities of the victims are not known at this time, the three corpses are clad in civilian clothes, not military uniforms. One man, who seems to be the youngest of the pack, is donned in a blood-soaked shirt. The group is laid out in clear terrain sheltered by bushes an adjacent to a wheelbarrow, which could mean that the men were ambushed while participating in civilian activity.
After the video went viral Wednesday, authorities have responded with a quick rebuttal. "While we have not yet verified the origin or authenticity of this video, the actions portrayed are not consistent with our core values and are not indicative of the character of the Marines in our Corps.”
On YouTube, one viewer of the clip writes, “Thanks fellas, you just pissed away everything me and my boys fought for.”
An early 2010 incident in which a gang of US troops opened fire and killed Afghan civilians landed charges for at least four of them. Although they have admitted guilt in the so-called “thrill kill” massacre, Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs could be free in as soon as 10 years despite being found guilty of 15 counts, including three charges of premeditated murder.
Only one month ago, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told troops at the US base in Pakika province that the war in Afghanistan "has been a difficult and complicated relationship . . . but it is an important relationship, and it is one that we have to continue to work at.”