A video of U.S. Marines urinating on Taliban fighters was posted to websites in January 2012. The video went viral on YouTube, website and other sites, and caused anger and outrage in Afghanistan and the Middle East.
Content of the video[edit | edit source]
The video shows four men in U.S. Marine combat gear laughing and joking as they urinate on what appear to be dead men somewhere in a rural part of Afghanistan. News sources describe the dead men as Taliban insurgents. There is a wheelbarrow next to them and the scene appears as rural farming area. One of the bodies is covered in blood and the Marine can be heard joking "Have a great day, buddy", "Golden like a shower" and "Yeahhhh!" The exact location of the scene is still unknown and there is no information on whether the dead men are insurgents or local laborers.
Perpetrators, punishment and investigation[edit | edit source]
Officials from the United States Department of Defense have identified all four U.S. Marines in the video and launched a criminal investigation. The urinating Marines were from the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines based at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and a top marine general promised a criminal and internal probe. ISAF spokesman Col. Gary Kolb told CNN, "In extreme cases, an act such as urinating on a body could be construed as a war crime." Desecrating bodies is a crime under U.S. military law and the Geneva conventions. An investigation into the incident by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service respectively by the U.S. Marine Corps itself has been completed. U.S. Marine Lieutenant General Richard Mill is as of April 19, 2012 weighing what to do with the involved military U.S. military personnel. The general could according U.S. marines spokesman Colonel Sean Gibson order further investigation, courts martial, or lesser forms of reprimands. Mills could also decide for no punishment whatsoever. "The commanding general is considering his possible courses of actions," Gibson said, "but no final decision has been made."
On August 27, 2012 the U.S. Marine Corps announced that three of the incident involved Marines received non-judicial administrative punishments which among other things can include a reprimand, reductions in rank, forfeiting pay, extra duties or being restricted to a military base. They will also receive a permanent mark on their records that will impact any future promotions and re-enlistments. The incident for which the Marines where punished took place during a counter-insurgency operation near Sandala, Musa Qala District in Helmand Province, Afghanistan around July 27, 2011, a Taliban stronghold and a center of opium poppy production that was the scene of tough fighting at the time. Of the roughly 1,000 Marines in the battalion, seven were killed during the unit's seven-month deployment in the area.
The three unidentified enlisted Marines who received the administrative punishments are all non-commissioned officers. Two of the Marines pleaded guilty to having violated a general order for "wrongfully posing for an unofficial photograph with human casualties." One of them pleaded guilty to urinating on the corpse of a Taliban fighter and another to having recorded the video. The third Marine, the highest ranking among the three NCO's, pleaded guilty to having "failed to report the mistreatment of human casualties by other Marines" and for having made a false statement about his knowledge of the event.
A press release from Marine Corps Combat Development Command said: "We hold Marines to a high standard of ethical behavior. The Marine Corps takes misconduct by Marines very seriously and is committed to holding accountable those who are responsible." The press release indicated further punishments are likely as "disciplinary actions against other Marines involved in the incident will be announced at a later date." Six more Marines are still awaiting their punishments in the urination incident, which was recorded on video. It was announced, however, that two officers will be charged with creating a command climate that led to acts of bad behavior, the Marine Corps said. It was unclear what disciplinary action the four other non-commissioned officers will face. The Marine Corps did not release the results of its investigation into the episode because there were continuing inquiries about higher-ranking officers in the unit involved.
The three Marines who received non-judicial punishments were all members of Third Battalion, Second Marine Regiment (3/2) or served in units that were attached to 3/2 during their deployment. The battalion is based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Shortly after the video appeared online, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos initiated a criminal investigation to authenticate the video. He also commissioned a command investigation by a three-star general to determine what factors may have led to the recording of the video. Both investigations were concluded in March. Based on the information gleaned from the command investigation Lt. Gen. Richard Mills, the Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration who was the general officer who determined the punishments announced on August 27, 2012. ordered a further inquiry was ordered into possible misconduct by members of the unit involved in the incident beyond those depicted in the video. That investigation was completed in June.
Two U.S. Marines—Staff Sergeants Joseph W. Chamblin and Edward W. Deptola—have been charged in the middle of September 2012 for "violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice" for their involvement in the urination incident. The two staff sergeants were officially charged with "posing for unofficial photographs with human casualties," failing to properly prevent or report misconduct by junior Marines under their command, the indiscriminate firing of a grenade launcher and the indiscriminate firing of an enemy machine gun. Both staff sergeants have been referred by Lt. Gen. Richard Mills, Commander General of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, to a Special Court Martial. Referring their cases to a Special Court Martial skips the evidentiary hearings needed to proceed to a General Court Martial and also limits their potential punishments. The maximum punishments available under a Special Court Martial is one year of confinement, a two-thirds forfeiture of pay for one year, a reduction in rank to Private and a bad conduct discharge.
The U.S. military dealt out on August 27, 2013 punishment to three Marines for their roles in urinating on Taliban corpses. As part of a plea deal two non-commissioned officers and a staff non-commissioned officer pleaded guilty. The three marines will receive a permanent mark on their records that will impact any future promotions and re-enlistmensts. Six more Marines are still awaiting their punishments in the urination incident. Two officers will be charged with creating a command climate that led to acts of bad behavior, but it was unclear what disciplinary action the four other non-commissioned officers will face. The three Marines who received non-judicial punishments (which can include, among other things, a reprimand, reductions in rank, forfeiting pay, extra duties or being restricted to a military base) were all members of Third Battalion, Second Marine Regiment (3/2) or served in units that were attached to 3/2 during their deployment. The battalion is based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The names of the three Marines were not disclosed because their punishments were administrative.
Reactions[edit | edit source]
Arsala Rahmani, a leading negotiator in Karzai's peace council said that the film will have a "very, very bad impact on peace efforts" and that "Looking at such action, the Taliban can easily recruit young people and tell them that their country has been attacked by Christians and Jews and they must defend it."
Congressman politician said, "The Marines were wrong. Give them a maximum punishment under field grade level Article 15 (non-judicial punishment), place a General Officer level letter of reprimand in their personnel file, and have them in full dress uniform stand before their Battalion, each personally apologize to God, Country, and Corps videotaped and conclude by singing the full US Marine Corps Hymn without a teleprompter. As for everyone else, unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth, war is hell."
Dana Loesch said in her "The Dana Show." on KFTK, a conservative radio station, "Can someone explain to me if there's 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? I'd drop trou and do it too. That's me though. I want a million cool points for these guys. Is that harsh to say? Come on people this is a war. What do people think this is. I am totally not politically correct. I told you this. They think that we are going to sit down and have tea." She added "Do I have a problem with that as a citizen of the United States? No, I don't." Goldie Taylor, a former Marine responded to Loesch's remarks, "disgusting,” adding “to say you would ‘drop trou’ and do the same thing, I question someone’s integrity who would say something like that."
A Taliban spokesman said: "First they killed the Afghans with mortars, and they then urinated on their bodies. We strongly condemn this inhumane action by the wild American soldiers."
Effects of the video[edit | edit source]
The video caused outrage in Afghanistan, the Middle East and across the world. An Afghan soldier who shot dead four French troops in Afghanistan and wounded another eight seriously said that he did it because of the American soldiers who urinated on bodies in the video. The released video eroded, alongside with the burning of the Muslim holy book Koran by US troops and Panjwai shooting spree, relations between the United States and Afghanistan, has seriously damaged the image of American soldiers before the Afghan public, and was according to the Taliban one of their reasons for their April 2012 Afghanistan attacks.
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
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