America Reaches New Low With Video of Marines Urinating on Dead Afghans

by on January 12, 2012 · 16 comments

in American Empire, War and Peace, World News

 A Video of US Marines Urinating on Corpses Sparks Outrage

By Chris McGreal / RSNGuardian UK /  January 12, 2012

Afghan president Hamid Karzai and US defence secretary Leon Panetta have led a chorus of condemnation of American soldiers filmed urinating on the bodies of dead Afghans as “inhumane” and “utterly deplorable”.

The Pentagon said it is attempting to identify the soldiers responsible for the latest in a series of abuses by US forces which is likely to further inflame hostility to Nato troops in Afghanistan and reinforce the perception that there is an institutional problem in the American military.

Panetta said he had viewed the graphic video of four US marines urinating on three bloodied corpses. As they are filmed by a fifth soldier, the marines sigh with relief, laugh and make comments including “have a great day, buddy” and “golden, like a shower”.

 “I have seen the footage, and I find the behaviour depicted in it utterly deplorable,” said Panetta. “Those found to have engaged in such conduct will be held accountable to the fullest extent.”

 The soldiers in the undated video, which was posted anonymously on the web, appear to be members of Scout Sniper Team 4, a US marine unit based in North Carolina that served in Afghanistan as recently as last year.

It is not clear who the dead Afghans are. They are possibly Taliban fighters but their corpses are not shown with weapons.

Karzai said in a statement that he was “deeply disturbed” by the desecration of dead bodies which is defined as a war crime by the Geneva conventions.

 “This act by American soldiers is completely inhumane and condemnable in the strongest possible terms. We expressly ask the US government to urgently investigate the video and apply the most severe punishment to anyone found guilty in this crime,” he said.

 The Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said it “strongly condemns the actions depicted in the video, which appear to have been conducted by a small group of US individuals, who apparently are no longer serving in Afghanistan”.

 “This disrespectful act is inexplicable and not in keeping with the high moral standards we expect of coalition forces,” it said.

 John McCain, a navy veteran and the leading Republican on the US senate’s armed services committee, said the video “makes me so sad”.

“There should be an investigation and these young people should be punished,” he said.

A leading negotiator in Karzai’s peace council, Arsala Rahmani, said that the film will have a “very, very bad impact on peace efforts”.

 “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,” he said.

 But the Taliban, while criticising the actions of the marines as “shameful”, said the latest revelations of abuse by US forces will not block attempts to get talks started to bring an end to the Afghan conflict.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, told the BBC that it is not the first time Americans had carried out such a “wild action”. But another different Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said the video “is not a political process, so the video will not harm our talks and prisoner exchange because they are at the preliminary stage”.

The exposure of the video, widely viewed on the web, comes as the Obama administration attempts to begin peace talks with the Taliban before the US begins to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan.

Marc Grossman, the White House special representative, will meet Karzai in Kabul this weekend as well as officials in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Last week, the Taliban announced it would to set up a political office in Qatar which appears to be an important step toward negotiations. Washington is considering reciprocating by releasing several Taliban prisoners from the Guantanamo jail as a confidence-building measure.

While the latest revelation of abuses does not appear likely to derail the latest peace effort it again raises questions about whether there is a culture of abuse in US forces serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Last year, 11 soldiers were convicted over the murders of three Afghan civilians by a “kill squad” and the subsequent cover up. It was revealed that some of them collected body parts, including fingers and skull parts, as trophies, and posed for photographs over the corpses of their victims.

This week, a US marine went on trial over the killing of 24 Iraqis, including women and children, in their homes. Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich faces charges of manslaughter over the killings as he commanded a group of soldiers who burst into the victims’ homes in Haditha in search of combatants. Seven other soldiers also charged were either acquitted or had the case against them dropped.

The US military is also still grappling with the legacy of the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and its role in the torture of alleged terrorists.

Go here for video – Caution – disgustingly graphic.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Goatskull January 12, 2012 at 4:24 pm
avatar Frank Gormlie January 12, 2012 at 5:48 pm

This is what the “war culture” has gotten us – our young people pissing on the people they just shot. We all should be ashamed so much that we do something to ensure that we leave Afghanistan.


avatar john January 14, 2012 at 10:16 am

Leave Afghanistan, as its own primary goal, even if it means having it fall into utter chaos, Taliban rule, a bed of militant fundamentalist Islam, a terrorist training ground?
You haven’t forgotten why we went there? Something to do with a nice fellow named Osama Bin Laden training terrorists and staging attacks, and the Taliban swearing to protect the guest in their house until death?
For most societies in history it was enough just to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women. (it was good enough for Conan!)
No, America can’t say we win a war until we rebuild them better than they were and they pledge to be BFF.
Anyway this peeing on the Taliban “scandal” is one of those silly things we do in a democracy, train young men to vilify their fellow man to the point where they can efficiently take their lives in combat, but if they get it on film we act all indignant and put on an act of outrage. I personally don’t have a problem with this, hell we shoot these guys, blow them up with all manners of ordnance, complaining about being peed on is like OJ in that Naked Gun movie, where he gets shot a dozen times and stubs his toe (or something similar) as he’s dying and howls out in pain.
Is it disrespectful? Well as the Taliban fall into that special catagory of d-bag that they banned all music, gave women no rights including education OR medical care of any kind, tore down centuries old icons of opposing religions, and (yes this is true:) out of fear it could be made from old Korans, had banned all toilet paper and paper bags from the country (leaving what to wipe their backsides but their hand… or old Korans!!!) I think in this case to “drop trou” is a more than fitting send off.
They really do represent everything that deserves to be hated on. They throw gasoline on women and burn them.


avatar Frank Gormlie January 14, 2012 at 10:27 am

John, there you go again. Well, just for starters, it’s against international law to defile a corpse.

Second, had you heard that Osama bin Laden has been killed? The Afghans don’t want us, the American people don’t want us there.

Third, did you heard that the former USSR went bankrupt due to their 10 year “stay” in Afghanistan. Sound familiar?

Fourth, yes, this war culture is turning our youth into war-crazed zombies – check out what is going on up at Ft Lewis, where returning vets are killing their wives, torturing their children, and turning guns on others – like that park ranger just murdered.

Dude, we need to get out of Afghanistan – now.


avatar john January 14, 2012 at 10:48 am

“Third, did you heard that the former USSR went bankrupt due to their 10 year “stay” in Afghanistan. ”

That was part, as well as fighting a war with the US by proxy in Vietnam…but from what I heard it was as much Reagan conspiring with the Arabs to keep crude prices ridiculously low, as the Soviet Union’s primary export and source of revenue was oil.

But anyhoo I’m recalling similar debates over Iraq during the 2008 election, disagree many did on the war itself but no candidate thought it would be responsible to “cut and run” in an immediate fashion if it left the region in chaos. The only result would be a huge black eye for America and further burden on their people. You don’t want that just to have the ability to say “look, we told you it would be a disaster!”, do you?


avatar Frank Gormlie January 14, 2012 at 10:56 am

Actually, John, I enjoy our debates, a lot because you never really succumb to name-calling but fairly much present your arguments with substantiations. I don’t always agree with you – as here – but I respect your ability to present your thoughts in well-ordered fashion.


avatar rick trujillo January 13, 2012 at 5:39 am

First, may I congratulate OB for your continued accurate and sobering coverage of Occupy and also, the police violence, just about everywhere.

The #OWS folks and their followers (include me), in all major cities, have fingered the 1% as the source of various levels of greed and inhumanity, here in San Diego and throughout the planet. This is a central crime for which there is zero absolution. Ergo, the massive cop presence (violence baiting), barriers, selective detentions and bullying arrests–they know full well what they are doing and are very comfortable with all the independent video proof of their political police operations (don’t be naive, the DA’s office tutors this effort) because they have achieved their goal, in every major population center, of clearing the square and most important, intimidating the 99% from getting too close to the frees speech actions.

Early on, elected officials, progressives too, made a big decision. It’s about preventing a bigger problem for the future. Curb this now is/was their choice. Their success is momentary. There is little doubt about that, come Spring. Occupy hasn’t yet put a real face on the owners of Wall Street, just the administrate functionaries, CEO’s and the lot. but so far so good. This too will come.

From my experience, Occupy has done more, in 3 1/2 months, to get enormous numbers to begin the process of objectively scrutinizing the capitalist system, than any left, socialist, social democratic, communist or fringe organization or publications has accomplished over the last 4 decades.

In fact, the lack of condemnation of the massive violence, organized by the state, from molecular & micro Marxists speaks volumes of so-called “voices of the proletariat.” They are waiting on the sidelines, following, that’s good, perhaps they will learn something. Marx & Engels were right by the way, and deserve to be studied, start with wage slavery.

This includes the fact that Occupy is seen as independent and action oriented. So now what? Simple, follow your nose. Trust your common democratic instincts. What weakens them, helps us, and we need all the collective help we can organize, right now.

The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights are a great guide and truly necessary, for safe political haven, but what we now see is officials, of all nationalities their true sentiments and hidden agendas, exposed. This is just the beginning of their treachery. Yes, we are on our own, And that’s exactly where we should be, to face our future without them, the 1 % and all their appendages, labor hacks, dual parties, imperialist military, all of it.

Free at last, Free at last, Politically, free at last, thank Occupy Almighty. I’m a retired train operator, rank and file unionist, Nam vet, 67 years old, ex-captain u.s. army. Warning, all the mayors here, and across the country have a predecessor, his name was Thiers, he butchered the Paris Commune, a repeat is not inevitable. The Communards were us.


avatar Frank Gormlie January 13, 2012 at 10:36 am

Thanks Rick for your support and insights.


avatar RB January 14, 2012 at 8:13 am

Wow, what a clear statement of the motivations and political beliefs of someone in the Occupy movement.


avatar john January 14, 2012 at 10:34 am

I wonder what (Soviet Soyuz 1 Cosmonaut) Vladimir Komarov would say about the admiration for the socialism model? Chernobyl’s victims?
There are many evils inherent to greed, they can be just as dangerously found within malaise, and the helplessness of being a faceless cog in a machine.


avatar Frank Gormlie January 14, 2012 at 10:59 am

John, rule #2 in politics: you are never what you say you are, you are what you do. Just because parties and countries call themselves “socialist” does not mean they are in fact. Take the USSR for example. It’s been fairly well known that the USSR was not socialist in the true sense of the word – and neither is China BTW – but that it created a “state-capitalist” model – where the government, the state, became the biggest capitalist.

A true socialism is humane, compassionate, and democratic and employs democratic means in the economy.


avatar john January 14, 2012 at 1:29 pm

That’s absolutely correct, though the USSR was probably the most often cited experiment in socialism which is why I used it. It’s safe to say no political system you can name would ever work in a pure sense by itself, a socialist system would still have elements both left and right of its core in function.
The problem with most visions of socialism is what you see as compassionate will be abused by some- and we never want to admit this but often the best thing for the human spirit is adversity, even to an extreme.
In the end if you can name a socialist or communist society that worked out pretty good, it would be good to analyze its strengths. I don’t know of any real success stories, lots of failures though they are hard to look at objectively. (such as Chile 1970-73. The economy went to hell in a handbasket but the US had a role in that. We weren’t the only meddlers, while we assisted the coup Allende was in fact a Soviet puppet. In the end I can’t see much good in the state seizing private, often family owned business by gunpoint. I have to concede our role in South America during the cold war was sordid, to put it mildly)
Economic systems are cyclical, what goes up comes down and all that. America had its day in the sun, now China is rising. Not communist for sure!


avatar Frank Gormlie January 14, 2012 at 2:27 pm

The Russians never had a real opportunity to create their socialism, as they were immediately attacked by the White Russians (not your drink Lobowski!) and by the West – even US troops landed in Russia, ‘member, John the historian.

And then the leadership started going after each other. Stalin allowed Lenin – who been shot and wounded by a right-wing anarchist – to die, and then Stalin went after Trotsky – the other third member of the original troika. Once he consolidated the leadership, Stalin developed an industrialized country out of an essentially peasant society in just a few decades where it took most other countries centuries – but with a horrid human and unacceptable cost.

The USSR party and leadership developed into a new “capitalist” class – but a state-capitalist society – where the gov’t became the largest (and only?) capitalist, and then ran the society in top-down manner – until the people revolted. The society went broke largely because of the huge military structure created – in response to the US – and partly due to their 10 year war in Afghanistan.

China – the first peasant revolution in modern times – overthrown a corrupt, feudal system, and also had to hurriedly create an industrial nation. And once again, we can see that a top-down authoritarian hierarchy has been created, with again a state-capitalist system. The Chinese gov’t can never be forgiven for massacring their own people in 1989. Socialists don’t shoot workers and students demanding their rights and freedoms.

Yet, China today is one of America’s largest trading partners. Both nations need each other. At this point in the world economic system.


avatar john January 16, 2012 at 12:25 am

Thank you for the insightful reply, there was a few things in there I didn’t know before.
One problem I’ve long had with all that “cold war” business is that the Russians I’ve come in contact with over the years were all, to the last one, decent, even selfless people. Yet we were indoctrinated to hate them.


avatar Diego Sigala January 15, 2012 at 8:26 am

Really informative blog.Really looking forward to read more. Want more.


avatar mr.rick January 16, 2012 at 6:26 am

So what do we call it when the banksters and corporatists,with the muscle and reach of the state, manipulate the system to their benefit and to the detriment of every one else. It’s pretty much the same in Afghanistan and the US. Just a matter of degrees. Once we pull out of their neighborhood, the idiots I mentioned earlier will just be trying to pull strings from here with the help of the banksters. And if they don’t like those apples… We have some young kids out in the desert some where looking at hi-tech screens with itchey trigger fingers waiting to martyr some one, anyone.


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