Joseph W. Chamblin and Edward W. Deptola, two U.S. Marines, have been criminally charged for allegedly urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters on camera. The video was recorded during a counterinsurgency operation in Helmand Province on July 27, 2011, but it was not posted to the internet until January 2012. They were officially charged with “posing for unofficial photographs with human casualties”. There were in fact four Marines shown in the video made in July 2011 in Afghanistan, but only two were identified. In the video, the men were seen urinating on the corpses of three Afghan men while laughing. A voice can be overheard in the background of the video saying, “Have a nice day, buddy.” Three other Marines from the same unit pled guilty in connection with the video. Punishments for those Marines included a reduction in rank, forfeiture of pay, and punitive letters for permanent placement in their personnel records.
After the video appeared on the internet, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos started a criminal investigation to authenticate the video and to determine what factors led to the recording of the video. Both investigations ended in March 2012. Lt. Gen. Richard Mills ordered a further investigation to look into possible misconduct by members of the unit involved in the incident, but were not shown in the video. This additional investigation ended in June 2012.
The sergeants referred the Marines to a Special Court Martial. Gibson, a spokesman for Marine Corps Combat Development Command, said the maximum punishment available under this court is one year of confinement, a two-thirds forfeiture of pay for one year, and a reduction in rank to Private and a bad conduct discharge.
Are the punishments for these Marines to lenient? What does it say about our country and the people fighting for it? Is the fact that it was videotaped and put on the internet worse than the actual act? The U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta called it “deplorable” and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she felt “total dismay” after hearing the story. What should they do about it? What would the United States do if the roles were reversed, and Afghan soldiers did this to our troops?