The United States Marines Corps say they have identified and interviewed the four men who were seen urinating on corpses in Afghanistan in a viral video that was posted online this week.
The video, which first surfaced online Wednesday morning, and is described as a “recruitment tool for the Taliban,” shows four men in full combat uniform laughing and joking around as they relieve themselves on three dead bodies.
One of the men can be heard saying, “Have a great day, buddy!” as his colleagues laugh, and another jokes, “Golden like a shower.”
According to various published reports, the four men were members of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines out of Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, where they reportedly showed the video off as some sort of “war trophy.”
So far, the names of the men have not been released, but an unidentified official says that some of the men are no longer members of the military.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta called the video “utterly deplorable” and ordered a high-level probe into the incident, which has been condemned by other White House officials and politicians, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator John McCain and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, who called the soldiers’ actions “inhumane.”
“Those found to have engaged in such conduct will be held accountable to the fullest extent,” said the Secretary of Defense, who advised the commander of western troops in Afghanistan to launch their own investigation.
Hillary Clinton expressed “total dismay” at the video, calling it “deplorable behavior” and “absolutely inconsistent with the standards of behavior that the vast majority of Marines hold themselves to.”
“Anyone, anyone found to have participated or know about it, having engaged in such conduct, must be held fully accountable,” she said.
Though the nature of the charges brought against the men are unclear, desecrating bodies is a crime under U.S. military law and the Geneva conventions.
In response to the growing diplomatic storm surrounding the situation, the deputy commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Lt. General Curtis Scaparrotti, said in a message to troops Friday that defiling, desecrating, mocking, photographing or filming for personal use insurgent dead constitutes a grave breach” of the laws that are currently governing armed conflict.
But not everyone is so strongly against the video. A prominent anti-Muslim activist in New York, Pamela Geller, who famously opposed the construction of an Islamic center near ground zero, praised the soldiers for desecrating the the corpses of Afghans who she described as “murderous savages.”
“I love these marines. Perhaps this is the infidel interpretation of the Islamic ritual of washing and preparing the body for burial,” she wrote on her blog.
Florida Rep. Allen West, an ex-Army lieutenant colonel, slammed non-military people who are criticizing the four marines seen in the video, saying, “…unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth, war is hell.”
CNN contributor Dana Loesche, who also supports the troops and their crude actions, said in an interview with FM News Talk 97.1 in St. Louis, Missouri, “C’mon people, this is war. Do I have a problem with that as a citizen of the United States? No, I don’t.”
Meanwhile, Eugenia Weiss, a military psychiatrist based out of California, suggested the soldiers may have been “stressed” or “pranksters with extremely bad taste.”
Eugene Fidell, who teaches a military course at Yale University, said that the Marines could be sent to prison if a jury of military officers deem it to be an appropriate punishment.