Current Events and the Psychology of Politics

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Jan 13th, 2012

A video clip posted on the web appears to show U.S. Marines in Afghanistan apparently urinating on the corpses of dead Afghan men. According to a note included with the uploaded video file, the servicemen were members of Marine Scout Sniper Team 4, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.

U.S. investigates Taliban corpse abuse in Afghanistan

The U.S. military is investigating a video showing what appears to be troops urinating on the dead bodies of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. (0:50)

U.S. Defense Chief Condemns Urinating Marines Video

Reuters, NBC News’ Jim Miklaszewski and Courtney Kube via
January 12, 2012

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has condemned a video that apparently shows U.S. Marines urinating on the corpses of Afghan men, promising to punish those involved.

“I have seen the footage, and I find the behavior depicted in it utterly deplorable,” Panetta says in a statement, adding that he had ordered the Marine Corps and the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan to investigate the incident.

“Those found to have engaged in such conduct will be held accountable to the fullest extent,” he says.

The video that surfaced a day earlier appeared to show American forces urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban fighters could aggravate anti-American sentiment in Afghanistan as the Obama administration hopes to end a decade-long war. …

Full story


1/21/2012 Update

Afghanistan’s Soldiers Step Up Killings of Allied Forces

American soldiers training Afghan police officers in 2010. A report cites growing friction between the ostensible allies. (Photo credit: Damon Winter / The New York Times)

By Matthew Rosenberg

January 20, 2012


KABUL, Afghanistan — American and other coalition forces here are being killed in increasing numbers by the very Afghan soldiers they fight alongside and train, in attacks motivated by deep-seated animosity between the supposedly allied forces, according to American and Afghan officers and a classified coalition report.

A decade into the war in Afghanistan, the report makes clear that these killings have become the most visible symptom of a far deeper ailment plaguing the war effort: the contempt each side holds for the other, never mind the Taliban. The ill will and mistrust run deep among civilians and militaries on both sides, raising questions about what future role the United States and its allies can expect to play in Afghanistan.

Underscoring the danger, a gunman in an Afghan Army uniform killed four French service members and wounded several others on Friday, according to an Afghan police official in Kapisa Province in eastern Afghanistan, prompting the French president to suspend his country’s operations here [link added]. …

One instance of the general level of antipathy in the war exploded into uncomfortable view last week when video emerged of American Marines urinating on dead Taliban fighters. Although American commanders quickly took action and condemned the act, chat-room and Facebook posts by Marines and their supporters were full of praise for the desecration.

But the most troubling fallout has been the mounting number of Westerners killed by their Afghan allies, events that have been routinely dismissed by American and NATO officials as isolated episodes that are the work of disturbed individual soldiers or Taliban infiltrators, and not indicative of a larger pattern. …

The Wall Street Journal [June 17, 2011] reported on details of the investigation last year. A copy was obtained by The New York Times.

“Lethal altercations are clearly not rare or isolated; they reflect a rapidly growing systemic homicide threat (a magnitude of which may be unprecedented between ‘allies’ in modern military history),” it said. Official NATO pronouncements to the contrary “seem disingenuous, if not profoundly intellectually dishonest,” said the report, and it played down the role of Taliban infiltrators in the killings. …

Although NATO does not release a complete tally of its forces’ deaths at the hands of Afghan soldiers and the police, the classified report and coalition news releases indicate that Afghan forces have attacked American and allied service members nearly three dozen times since 2007. …

The classified report found that between May 2007 and May 2011, when it was completed, at least 58 Western service members were killed in 26 separate attacks by Afghan soldiers and the police nationwide. Most of those attacks have occurred since October 2009. This toll represented 6 percent of all hostile coalition deaths during that period, the report said.

“The sense of hatred is growing rapidly,” said an Afghan Army colonel. He described his troops as “thieves, liars and drug addicts,” but also said that the Americans were “rude, arrogant bullies who use foul language.” …

The United States soldier was killed this month when an Afghan soldier opened fire on Americans playing volleyball at a base in the southern province of Zabul. The assailant was quickly gunned down. The deadliest single incident came last April when an Afghan Air Force colonel, Ahmed Gul, killed eight unsuspecting American officers and a contractor [link added] with shots to the head inside their headquarters. …

In a 436-page report, the Air Force investigators said the initial coalition explanation for the attack — stress brought on by financial problems — was only a small part of Colonel Gul’s motivation. His primary motive was hatred of the United States, and he planned the attack to kill as many Americans as possible, the investigators said.

There have been no reported instances of Americans’ killing Afghan soldiers, although a rogue group of United States soldiers killed three Afghan civilians for sport in 2010 [link added]. Yet there is ample evidence of American disregard for Afghans. After the urination video circulated, a number of those who had served in Afghanistan took to Facebook and other Web sites to cheer on their compatriots, describing Afghans of all stripes in harsh terms. …

The 70-page coalition report, titled “A Crisis of Trust and Cultural Incompatibility,” — which was originally distributed as an unclassified document [in early May 2011 ] and later changed to classified — goes far beyond anecdotes. It was conducted by a behavioral scientist who surveyed 613 Afghan soldiers and police officers, 215 American soldiers and 30 Afghan interpreters who worked for the Americans. …

The list of Afghan complaints against the Americans ran the gamut from the killing of civilians to urinating in public and cursing. …

The Americans were equally as scathing. “U.S. soldiers’ perceptions of A.N.A. members were extremely negative across categories,” the report found, using the initials for the Afghan National Army. Those categories included “trustworthiness on patrol,” “honesty and integrity,” and “drug abuse.” The Americans also voiced suspicions about the Afghans being in league with the Taliban, a problem well documented among the Afghan police. …

Read the full report at the New York Times


1/22/2012 Update

‘Our missions have become easier because of incidents like the video [of Marines urinating on corpses],’ regional Taliban commander says

Afghan Taliban: We Recruited Soldier Who Killed French Troops

January 21, 2012

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — The Afghan Taliban said on Saturday they had recruited an Afghan soldier who shot dead four French soldiers in the country’s east a day earlier, prompting France to threaten an early pullout from the NATO-led war. …

Using another name the Islamist group call themselves, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters by telephone: “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has recruited people in important positions. Some of them have already accomplished their missions,” he said adding that the four died on the spot.

The killings in Kapisa province were the latest in a string of such attacks in which Afghan troops turn on their Western allies and mentors. …

After the shooting — which took the French death toll to 82 since the war began in 2001 — President Nicolas Sarkozy ordered all French military operations on the ground to be suspended and Defense Minister Gerard Longuet jetted into Kabul on Saturday.

A regional Taliban commander added that incidents such as a video showing U.S. Marines urinating on corpses were boosting support for the group among Afghans and threatened more attacks.

“Our missions have become easier because of incidents like the video,” he said.

Full story


3/12/2012 Update

U.S. Staff Sergeant Kills 16 Afghan Civilians

The Associated Press and Reuters via
March 11, 2012

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — A U.S. service member shot dead at least 15 members of two Afghan families as well as a 16th person before turning himself in, officials said Sunday. U.S. officials said the soldier was a staff sergeant.

Some witnesses said more than one soldier was involved, but Afghan President Hamid Karzai in a statement cited only one shooter in what he called “an assassination,” adding that nine of the dead were children, and three were women. …

An official told the Associated Press that the suspect is a conventional soldier assigned to support a special operations unit of either Green Berets or Navy SEALs engaged in a village stability operation.

The soldier reportedly left his base in the early hours Sunday and went to two villages just a few hundred yards away. He then opened fire on Afghan civilians sleeping in their homes, Minister of Border and Tribal Affairs Asadullah Khalid told Reuters. The service member entered three homes in the villages in Kandahar province, he said. …

The U.S.-led NATO mission in Afghanistan said the soldier being held would remain in its custody. …

The BBC reported that the soldier was thought to have suffered a breakdown. …

Civilian casualties have been a major source of friction between Karzai’s government and NATO forces in Afghanistan. …

Anti-American sentiment is running high in Afghanistan and it may deepen once news of the shooting spreads.

Anger gripped the country after U.S. soldiers burned a large number of copies of the Koran at a NATO base last month. NATO said it was a tragic blunder.

Thirty people were killed in protests and Afghan forces turned their weapons on U.S. soldiers, killing six.

Full story


8/28/2012 Update

Military Punishes Soldiers for Quran Burning, Marines for Urinating on Taliban Corpses

By Jim Miklaszewski and Courtney Kube
August 27, 2012

WASHINGTON – The U.S. military on Monday dealt out punishment to six Army soldiers for burning Qurans at Bagram Air Base that ignited deadly protest in Afghanistan, and to three Marines for their roles in urinating on Taliban corpses.

… [A] statement from the Marine Corps said the three Marines received the punishment for “violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for their role in the desecration and filming of deceased Taliban that became public in January 2012.”

As part of a plea deal, three Marines pleaded guilty and will receive a permanent mark on their records that will impact any future promotions and re-enlistments.

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 three Marines were all members of the Third Battalion, Second Marine Regiment or in units that were attached to the “3/2” during their deployment. Their names were not released.

One non-commissioned officer pleaded guilty to having violated a general order by wrongfully posing for an unofficial photograph with human casualties and urinating on the body of a deceased Taliban soldier, which conduct was prejudicial to good order and discipline.

Another non-commissioned officer pleaded guilty to wrongfully posing for an unofficial photograph with human casualties and wrongfully video recording the incident.

A staff non-commissioned officer pleaded guilty to failing to report the mistreatment of human casualties by other Marines and making a false official statement to a Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigator about the his knowledge of the video.

The incident took place during a counter-insurgency operation near Sandala, Musa Qala District in Helmand Province, Afghanistan around July 27, 2011.

According to The Wall Street Journal, officials in Afghanistan were bracing for public demonstrations over what might be viewed as lenient punishment of the troops.

Full story


9/25/2012 Update

2 Marines Face Criminal Charges for Allegedly Urinating on Taliban Corpses

The Associated Press, Reuters, and NBC News Chief Pentagon Correspondent Jim Miklaszewski
September 24, 2012

Two Marines are facing criminal charges for allegedly urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters last year in Afghanistan and posing for unofficial photos with casualties, Marine officials announced on Monday. …

The video, which showed Marines in full combat gear urinating on the bodies of three dead men, triggered widespread anger in Afghanistan early this year, with Afghan President Hamid Karzai calling the Marines’ actions “inhuman.” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said he feared that the video could set back efforts to begin reconciliation talks with the Taliban.

The charged Marines, Staff Sergeants Joseph W. Chamblin and Edward W. Deptola, who were referred to trial by court martial, also face charges for failing to properly supervise junior Marines and failing to stop and report misconduct of junior Marines.

The Marine Corps investigation showed that although the video was only circulated on the Internet in January, the incident actually took place on or around July 27, 2011, during a counter-insurgency operation in Afghanistan’s Helmand province.

The Marine Corps said on August 27 that three Marines pleaded guilty to charges over the video. But their punishment fell short of criminal prosecution.

Chamblin and Deptola, on the other hand, also face a series charges for failing to supervise junior Marines. …

The Marines said there were other pending cases in the video investigation. They declined to elaborate on the incident in which the negligent actions took place.

After a lengthy investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Services, Lt. Gen. Richard Mills, commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command in Quantico, Va., made the decision to refer the cases to court martial, the Marine Corps Times reported.

Both Marines are from the Third Battalion, Second Marine Regiment at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. No date has been set for their court martial.

Full story


Topical reports on this site

The photo shows the dead body of teenager Gul Mudin, son of an Afghan farmer in Kandahar Province. The boy was shot and killed on January 15, 2010 by a small group of U.S. army soldiers. Pfc. Holmes of the FOB Ramrod kill team is holding the boy’s head to the camera. The incident caused global condemnation, and at least four members of the group were court-martialed and sentenced to various prison sentences. (Photo: Der Spiegel)

American Killed by Rogue Afghan Worker Inside Kabul CIA Office
(Sept. 26, 2011)

Afghan Guard Turns Gun on Americans (July 9, 2011)

Rogue Afghan Shoots U.S. Trainers (April 27, 2011)

Soldiers Pose with Afghan Corpse (March 21, 2011)

Afghan Policeman Kills U.S. Troops (Dec. 1, 2010)

Afghan Killings, Body Parts at Center of War Crimes Inquiry
(Sept. 25, 2010)

Angry Protest After U.S. Raid (April 29, 2010)

‘Making Enemies’ in Afghanistan (April 12, 2010)

Afghan Soldier Kills U.S. Troop (Dec. 29, 2009)

Afghan Support for U.S. Plummets (Feb. 10, 2009)

Afghan Policeman Kills U.S. Soldier (Sept. 30, 2008)

8 Responses to “Setback for U.S. in Afghan War”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Rogue Afghan Shoots U.S. Trainers Says:

    […] Setback for U.S. in Afghan War (Jan. 13, 2012) […]

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Two American Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan Over Koran Burning Says:

    […] Setback for U.S. in Afghan War (Jan. 13, 2012) […]

  3. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Horrific Massacre by Deranged American Soldier in Afghanistan Says:

    […] Setback for U.S. in Afghan War (Jan. 13, 2012) […]

  4. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Military Deaths in Afghanistan Update Says:

    […] Setback for U.S. in Afghan War (Jan. 13, 2012) […]

  5. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Taliban Launch Spring Offensive With Attacks Across Kabul Says:

    […] Heavy street fighting between militants and security forces in the Afghan capital of Kabul raged for 18 hours in what the Taliban, who claimed responsibility for the attacks, called the start of its Spring Offensive and retaliation for the burning of Qurans at a NATO base in February 2012, the murders of 17 Afghans allegedly by Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales in March 2012, and videos that surfaced in January 2012 apparently showing U.S. Marines urinating on dead Taliban fighters. […]

  6. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » U.S. Soldiers Posed With Body Parts of Afghan Suicide Bombers Says:

    […] In January 2012 video surfaced of U.S. Marines urinating on Afghan corpses; in February 2012, the burning of Qurans in a fire pit at the main American base in Afghanistan sparked violent protests and revenge killings of six Americans; and in March 2012, 17 civilians, mainly women and children, were killed in a nighttime rampage, allegedly by Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. […]

  7. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Soldiers Pose with Afghan Corpse Says:

    […] Setback for U.S. in Afghan War (Jan. 13, 2012) […]

  8. Immelman vs. Bachmann » Blog Archive » ‘No One Really Cares’ — 2,000 U.S. Military Deaths in Afghanistan Says:

    […] Setback for U.S. in Afghan War (Jan. 13, 2012) […]

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