Urinating US Marines IdentifiedWorld | January 13, 2012, Friday // 11:30| views
A number of websites including TMZ and YouTube posted a video Wednesday showing four men dressed in US Marine Corps combat gear urinating on the apparently dead bodies of three men in front of them. Photo by CNN
Two of the four Marines shown in a video urinating on dead bodies sprawled out on the ground have been identified by the Marine Corps, a Marine Corps official told CNN Thursday.
The names are not being made public, said the official, who did not want to be identified because the investigation is ongoing.
While the identities of the people on the video haven't been released, the leadership of the 3rd Battalion 2nd Marine Regiment "is confident those are their Marines" on the video, according to a U.S. Marine official with direct knowledge of the initial investigation. Commanders are "not able to put names to Marines yet, but confident they fall under the 3/2," the official said.
The unit, which is based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, deployed last February or March and returned in September or October. While in Afghanistan, the unit was based primarily in Helmand province.
The identities were determined as officials in the United States and Afghanistan expressed shock and outrage regarding the video, which was posted Wednesday to a number of websites.
"I have seen the footage, and I find the behavior depicted in it utterly deplorable," U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a statement. "I condemn it in the strongest possible terms."
Panetta said he has ordered the Marine Corps and International Security Assistance Force Commander 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 of values our armed forces are sworn to uphold," Panetta's statement said. "Those found to have engaged in such conduct will be held accountable to the fullest extent."
A senior Pentagon official said Panetta was "deeply troubled" after viewing the video.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on the U.S. government to investigate the video and hand down the harshest punishment possible.
"The government of Afghanistan is deeply disturbed by a video that shows American soldiers desecrating dead bodies of three Afghans," according to a statement released by the presidential palace on behalf of Karzai.
"This act by American soldiers is simply inhuman and condemnable in the strongest possible terms."
A Taliban spokesman called the video "barbaric."