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NEW INFO: Marines Confirm Four Identified In Video

The Marine Corps on Friday laid the groundwork for deciding what, if any, disciplinary action will be taken in the case of an Internet video purporting to show Marine snipers urinating on dead bodies in Afghanistan.

The top Marine officer, Gen. James Amos, appointed three-star Gen. Thomas Waldhauser to oversee the case. Waldhauser named another officer to do an internal Marine Corps investigation, which is in addition to a criminal probe under way by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

Waldhauser will decide what to do as a result of the investigations.

In Afghanistan, a senior US commander issued a letter to all personnel in the international coalition that is fighting the war, explicitly reminding them of the need to respect the dead. The letter from Army Lt. Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, commander of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, reflected the depth of concern about fallout from the video.

"Defiling, desecrating, mocking, photographing or filming for personal use insurgent dead constitutes a grave breach of the LOAC (laws of armed conflict), violate basic standards of human decency and can cause serious damage to relations with the Afghan government," Scaparrotti wrote. He ordered all commanders to remind their subordinates of their duty to comply.

No one has been charged in the case, which triggered widespread outrage with the appearance Wednesday on YouTube of a brief video that appears to show four Marines in full combat gear urinating on the bodies of three dead men lying on the ground.

Marine Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, condemned the behavior and said in a statement Friday while he was traveling in the U.S. that the facts in the case should be determined swiftly.

"These actions are in direct opposition to everything the military stands for," Allen said after viewing the video. "Such acts in no way reflect the high moral standards and values we expect of our armed forces on a daily basis."

Pentagon officials worry that the actions depicted in the video will tarnish the reputation of the entire military. Some officials have expressed fear that it could undermine prospects for exploratory Afghan peace talks.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and military leaders have promised an exhaustive investigation and sought to contain the damage at home and abroad.

Marine Corps headquarters at the Pentagon issued a statement Friday announcing Amos's appointment of Waldhauser, commander of Marine Forces Central Command, which is responsible for Afghanistan.

It said Waldhauser will "exercise his independent judgment" and decide how to handle "any allegations of wrongdoing."

Waldhauser appointed a three-star general, Steven Hummer, to lead the internal Marine Corps investigation. The probe will look into the question of what prompted the four Marines' behavior, said one officer, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to discuss an internal matter. That will include examining whether the Corps' current training and education on the laws of warfare are adequate, the officer said.

A second officer, also speaking privately to discuss an internal matter, said investigators will consider whether more senior Marines, such as the commander of the four Marines' battalion, failed to ensure a climate of proper discipline. The four who appeared in the video are enlisted Marines. Their exact ranks have not been made public.

The NCIS, the law enforcement arm of the Navy, is heading the main inquiry, which is expected to consider evidence of violations of the U.S. military legal code as well as the international laws of warfare.

By Friday, the NCIS had identified and interviewed all four of the Marines appearing in the video. At the time, they were filmed urinating on the bodies, the four were members of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, which fought in the southern Afghan province of Helmand for seven months before returning to their home base at Camp Lejeune, N.C., last September.

Two of the four, plus the commander of the battalion, had moved on to other assignments before the video appeared on the Internet, according to Marine Corps officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss an active investigation. The Marines' names have not been made public.

In its first public statement about the probe, the NCIS said Friday the probe is in its "very early stages." NCIS communications director Maryann B. Cummings said all four Marines are in the U.S., but she provided no other details about them. She said investigators are looking for information about those who created the video and posted it on the Internet.

The video itself is being studied for clues with the use of NCIS "computer forensic techniques," she said without elaborating.

The emergence of the Internet video didn't seem to immediately set back movement toward exploratory negotiations with the Taliban. Asked about possible implications for peace talks, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday that the U.S. remained strongly committed to supporting Afghan efforts.

Panetta, however, said the incident could endanger the talks.

"The danger is that this kind of video can be misused in many ways to undermine what we are trying to do in Afghanistan and the possibility of reconciliation," Panetta said at Fort Bliss, Texas.

He said it was important for the U.S. to move quickly to "send a clear signal to the world that the U.S. will not tolerate this kind of behavior and that is not what the U.S. is all about."


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A Marine Corps spokesman confirms that the four Marines seen in a now infamous video have been identified.

Captain Gregory Wolfe says the men are now with their units and their commander has the authority to restrict their access.

The names of the four have not been released.

The four Marines are believed to be members of Scout Sniper Team 4, from the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines. The Marines were deployed to Afghanistan until August.

The video shows the four urinating on the corpses of three Taliban insurgents. In the video the Marines are laughing and joking.

The Naval Criminal Investigation Service is conducting a criminal investigation into the video.

At the same time, the Marine Corps has appointed a three-star general to decide what, if any, disciplinary action to take against four Marine snipers.

Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser will name another officer to lead an internal Marine Corps investigation.

That investigation will be in addition to the criminal probe already under way by NCIS. Waldhauser will determine how to proceed once both investigations are completed.

Waldhauser is commander of Marine Corps Forces Central Command, whose area of responsibility includes Afghanistan.


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NBC News reports all four Marines in a now infamous video have been identified, and two are in custody at Camp Lejeune.

The names of the Marines are not being released.

According to the report, the Marines who are not in custody were reassigned to another unit before the controversy. One of the Marine in the video may actually be in Afghanistan.

An investigation into the authenticity of the video continues.



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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the latest to condemn the reported video of Camp Lejeune Marines urinating on the bodies of three dead Taliban insurgents.

Speaking to reporters, Clinton says anyone involved will be held accountable.

"First, I want to express my total dismay at the story concerning our Marines who I have the highest respect and admiration for, but I share completely the views shared by Secretary Panetta earlier today. I join him in condemning the deplorable behavior that is reflected in this video," said Clinton.

The U.S. Military says they have identified the Marines in the video. This as a criminal investigation is underway into the video.

A Marine Corps spokesman tells WITN that the Naval Criminal Investigation Service is handling the probe into the video and that it is a criminal investigation.

Marine Corps Commandant General James Amos says late yesterday he requested NCIS put together a team of their best agents to "thoroughly investigate" every aspect of the video. Amos said he is also assigning a Marine Corps general and senior attorney, both with extensive combat experience, to head up an internal preliminary inquiry.

Amos says once the NCIS probe and the internal inquiry is complete the Marine Corps will take 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," said the commandant.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has also condemned the video, promising to punish those involved.

"I have seen the footage, and I find the behavior depicted in it utterly deplorable," Panetta says in a statement, adding that he had ordered the Marine Corps and the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan to investigate the incident.

"Those found to have engaged in such conduct will be held accountable to the fullest extent," he says.

Two Eastern Carolina congressmen were quick to react to the video this morning.

Rep. Walter Jones, a Republican from Farmville, said while he hadn't yet seen the video you cannot justify what happened. "You know, war if hell. You know that's why I want to get our kids out of Afghanistan," said Jones. "We have certain morals, character, that we expect from our men and women in uniform, but it's just a bad situation." Jones added you also have to consider the stress of those involved in the battlefield.

Democratic Congressman G.K. Butterfield said he's already been briefed on the video, but he says its authenticity is still being investigated. "If the facts lead in that direction, there needs to be a penalty or punishment for this conduct, but let's keep an open mind."

The Afghan government has "strongly condemned" the video as well.

"The Islamic republic of Afghanistan is demanding the investigation and punishment for the solders from the U.S. government regarding this film as soon as possible," the presidential palace says in a statement released Thursday.

The four Marines in the video are believed to be members of Scout Sniper Team 4, from the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines. NBC reports that group of Marines were deployed to Afghanistan until August.


STATEMENT FROM THE COMMANDANT OF THE MARINE CORPS GENERAL JAMES AMOS

"I have viewed an internet video that apparently depicts Marines desecrating several dead Taliban in Afghanistan. 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. 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, 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."


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The Afghan government has "strongly condemned" video that apparently shows Camp Lejeune Marines urinating on three dead bodies. This as a criminal investigation is underway.

"The Islamic republic of Afghanistan is demanding the investigation and punishment for the solders from the U.S. government regarding this film as soon as possible," the presidential palace says in a statement released Thursday.

The Pentagon said yesterday it was already investigating the video that spread across the Internet. The four Marines in the video are believed to be members of Scout Sniper Team 4, from the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines. NBC reports that group of Marines was deployed to Afghanistan until August.

The NATO-led International Assistance Force comes close to saying it believes the video is real and promises a criminal investigation.

"ISAF strongly condemns the actions depicted in the video, which appear to have been conducted by a small group of U.S. individuals, who apparently are no longer serving in Afghanistan," the coalition says in a statement on Thursday. "This behavior dishonors the sacrifices and core values of every service member representing the fifty nations of the coalition."

"Therefore, a United States Criminal Investigatory agency has launched an investigation. It will be thorough and any individuals with confirmed involvement will be held fully accountable,” ISAF's statement adds.

Meanwhile an Afghan Taliban spokesman says the video will not affect efforts at peace talks. "This is not a political process, so the video will not harm our talks and prisoner exchange because they are at the preliminary stage," spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters.


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An investigation is underway into a video that has gone viral, reportedly showing Marines urinating on at least three dead bodies.

Those Marines are apparently from Camp Lejeune, and the corpses are Taliban insurgents killed in Afghanistan. In the video the Marines, who are in full combat gear, can be heard joking and laughing.

In a statement to WITN News, Captain Gregory Wolf at the Pentagon says they are still trying to verify the origin or authenticity of the video. Marines say the four shown in the video are allegedly members of Scout Sniper Team 4, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines.

The video showed up this morning on several web sites, including YouTube. Wolf says what's in the video is not consistent "with our core values and are not indicative of the character of the Marines in our Corps." He said those responsible will be held accountable.

The Marine Corps says 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines deployed to Afghanistan last year.


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