Panetta Orders Investigation of Video, Vows Accountability

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.”

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.

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

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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