Thursday, January 12, 2012

Panetta Orders Investigation of Video, Vows Accountability

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12, 2012 – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta released a statement today strongly condemning the actions of a small group of Marines depicted in a video that began circulating online yesterday.

The video shows four Marines apparently urinating over three enemy corpses in Afghanistan.

The secretary’s statement said he has seen the footage and finds the behavior depicted in it “utterly deplorable.”

“I condemn it in the strongest possible terms,” Panetta said. “I have ordered the Marine Corps and ISAF commander [Marine Corps] Gen. John Allen to immediately and fully investigate the incident. This conduct is entirely inappropriate for members of the United States military and does not reflect the standards or values our armed forces are sworn to uphold. Those found to have engaged in such conduct will be held accountable to the fullest extent.”

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said Panetta called Afghan President Hamid Karzai about the video today.

“The secretary expressed his view that the conduct depicted in the footage is utterly deplorable, and that it does not reflect the standards or values American troops are sworn to uphold,” Little said. “The secretary also noted in the conversation that he has ordered that the video be immediately and fully investigated.”

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus also released a statement today about the video.

"The conduct depicted in the video is appalling and outrageously offensive,” Mabus said in his statement. “We hold the U.S. Marine Corps to the highest possible standards, and the behavior shown in the video failed to uphold those standards in every possible way. Anyone who is found responsible for these actions will be held appropriately and fully accountable."

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey also provided comment on the video.

“I am deeply disturbed by the actions in this video,” Dempsey stated today. “Actions like those are not only illegal but are contrary to the values of a professional military and serve to erode the reputation of our joint force. The Marine Corps has asked NCIS for a thorough investigation and I am confident that there will be accountability, as appropriate.”

Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos also released a statement today about the video.

"I have viewed an internet video that depicts Marines desecrating several dead Taliban in Afghanistan,” Amos said in his statement. “I want to be clear and unambiguous; the behavior depicted in the video is wholly inconsistent with the high standards of conduct and warrior ethos that we have demonstrated throughout our history.

“Accordingly, late yesterday I requested that the Naval Criminal Investigative Service pull together a team of their very best agents and immediately assign them responsibility to thoroughly investigate every aspect of the filmed event,” Amos continued. “Additionally, I am assigning a Marine General Officer and senior attorney, both with extensive combat experience, to head up an internal Preliminary Inquiry into the matter.

“Once the investigation and Preliminary Inquiry are complete and the facts have been determined,” Amos added, “then the Marine Corps will take the appropriate next steps. Rest assured that the institution of the Marine Corps will not rest until the allegations and the events surrounding them have been resolved. We remain fully committed to upholding the Geneva Convention, the Laws of War, and our own core values."

A Marine Corps statement about the video released yesterday said "the actions portrayed are not consistent with our core values and are not indicative of the Marines in our Corps. This matter will be fully investigated.

The International Security Assistance Force also released a statement strongly condemning the actions, which it called “disrespectful, … inexplicable and not in keeping with the high moral standards we expect of coalition forces.”

“This behavior dishonors the sacrifices and core values of every

service member representing the fifty nations of the coalition,” the ISAF statement continued.

ISAF officials said a thorough investigation has begun. “Any individuals with confirmed involvement will be held fully accountable,” the statement said.

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