The Pentagon announced Wednesday that it is investigating newly published photographs from 2010 that show U.S. soldiers posing with the dismembered body parts of Afghan insurgents.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ”œstrongly rejects the conduct depicted in these two-year-old photographs,” spokesman George Little said in a statement after the pictures and an accompanying article were published by the Los Angeles Times. ”œAnyone found responsible for this inhuman conduct will be held accountable in accordance with our military justice system.”
In Kabul, U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker called the soldiers’ actions ”œmorally repugnant.” Gen. John R. Allen, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, said the soldiers’ behavior was ”œentirely inconsistent with the values” of the U.S.-led international coalition in Afghanistan.
The photographs were allegedly taken on two different occasions, the Times reported: once when soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division were sent to try to identify the remains of a suicide bomber, and a second time when soldiers from the same unit were dispatched to inspect the remains of three insurgents who accidentally blew themselves up.
The Times said it was given 18 extremely graphic photographs by a soldier from the 82nd Airborne who wanted to expose ”œa breakdown in leadership and discipline that he believed compromised the safety of the troops.”
U.S. troops posed with body parts of Afghan bombers
An American soldier says he released the photos to the Los Angeles Times to draw attention to the safety risk of a breakdown in leadership and discipline. The Army has started a criminal investigation.
Los Angeles Times, By David Zucchino, April 18
The paratroopers had their assignment: Check out reports that Afghan police had recovered the mangled remains of an insurgent suicide bomber. Try to get iris scans and fingerprints for identification.
The 82nd Airborne Division soldiers arrived at the police station in Afghanistan’s Zabol province in February 2010. They inspected the body parts. Then the mission turned macabre: The paratroopers posed for photos next to Afghan police, grinning while some held ”” and others squatted beside ”” the corpse’s severed legs.
A few months later, the same platoon was dispatched to investigate the remains of three insurgents who Afghan police said had accidentally blown themselves up. After obtaining a few fingerprints, they posed next to the remains, again grinning and mugging for photographs.