Afghan Corpse Photos: Karzai Calls For Full Transition Of Security Responsibilities To Afghan Forces

on April 19 2012 10:53 AM
  • Afghan President Hamid Karzai
    Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday called for an accelerated and full transition of security responsibilities to Afghan forces following the release of photos of U.S. soldiers posing with the corpses of Afghan insurgents. REUTERS
  • Afghanistan
    Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday called for an accelerated and full transition of security responsibilities to Afghan forces following the release of photos of U.S. soldiers posing with the corpses of Afghan insurgents. REUTERS
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Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on Thursday for an accelerated and full transition of security responsibilities to Afghan forces, following the release of photos of U.S. soldiers posing with the corpses of Afghan insurgents.

Karzai issued a statement on his office's website, saying he strongly condemns the inhumane and provocative act of U.S. soldiers taking pictures with the dead bodies of suicide bombers.

It is such a disgusting act to take photos with body parts and then share it with others, Karzai's statement read.

He added that the only way to end such painful experiences is through an accelerated and full transition of security responsibilities to Afghan forces. Karzai said this is needed so that his country can take over its own destiny and no such things can be repeated by the foreign forces in Afghanistan. 

Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Times released several photos taken by U.S. troops in 2010, showing members of the 82nd Airborne Division posing with the maimed body parts of alleged bombers. The Times said an American soldier who served in Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne's 4th Brigade Combat Team from Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, provided the photos because he wanted to highlight the safety risk of a breakdown in leadership and discipline.

The soldier asked to remain anonymous, but the photos have led to an investigation.

The Times also reported that the photos were taken on two separate occasions, when the soldiers were sent to identify the remains of suicide bombers.

Trophy Taking

Yet, desecrating a dead body isn't new for U.S. soldiers. Karl Marlantes, a former Marine lieutenant who was a platoon commander in Vietnam, told CNN's Security Clearance blog that he witnessed his Marines cut off the ears from enemy dead and attach them to their helmets. He told them they couldn't do it and ordered them to bury the bodies -- but only the platoon commander and the young Marines would know about it.

I had the sense that is was like a high school kid who wants to show the letter on his letter jacket, proof he'd killed the soldiers who killed his buddies, Marlantes told CNN. The difference was they didn't have the ability to take pictures of it and send them home before I got there.

According to Marlantes, who was awarded the Navy Cross for heroism in Vietnam, the recent photos and the video that surfaced earlier of Marines urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban fighters are just another form of the trophy taking that's been a part of war for thousands of years. 

We are taught thou shalt not kill, so how do you get a 19- or 20-year-old to actually pull the trigger? Marlantes said. Well, he has to think of the enemy as not human, that's the psychological trick to do. The problem is how do you get back out of that mode fast enough so that you begin to behave like a human being again? Oh, that body there is a human being, it's not some animal, and I'm gonna take the antlers off and stick it on my barn door. You have to switch back, and it's very difficult to do especially if you are 19.

The U.S government has denounced the actions of the soldiers in the pictures. Still, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Wednesday he's disappointed the Times ignore a request not to run the photo. According to the Defense Department, the photos can cause the enemy to incite violence against U.S. and Afghan service members.

These images by no means represent the values or professionalism of the vast majority of U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan today, George Little, acting assistant secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, said. Anyone found responsible for this inhuman conduct will be held accountable in accordance with our military justice system.

The Taliban on Thursday issued a statement noting that In the last 11 years since the Americans invaded Afghanistan, they have repeatedly done inhumane things which are not acceptable to anyone in the world.

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