AirTalk for January 12, 2012

Disrespecting the dead: What is the fallout?

Panetta And Dempsey Testify Before Senate Panel On Security Issues In Iraq

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta speaks during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Nov. 15, 2011, in Washington, DC. In a recent statement, he has deemed a video of four Marines urinating on deceased Taliban corpses "utterly deplorable."

Well, it's not Abu Ghraib but the video of Marines urinating on dead members of the Taliban is embarrassing at best, a political disaster at worst and a clear violation of Geneva Convention rules governing the treatment of the dead during wartime.

By now the authenticity of the video is not being questioned, with the Pentagon now using phrasing to identify the men as "a small group of Marines," adding that "the video shows four Marines apparently urinating over three enemy corpses in Afghanistan."

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has released a statement "calling the behavior depicted in it utterly deplorable and ordering that it be investigated." Panetta also said "those found to have engaged in such conduct will be held accountable to the fullest extent." The incident is already stirring up anti-American sentiment in Afghanistan.

Arsala Rahmani, a senior member of the Afghan government's High Peace Council, told Reuters that "such action will leave a very, very bad impact on peace efforts," though a Taliban spokesman said, "We know that our country is occupied ... This is not a political process, so the video will not harm our talks and prisoner exchange because they are at the preliminary stage."

As egregious as these acts are, do they rise to the level of an international incident? And how do they get handled diplomatically? What kind of training do troops undergo to avoid this kind of disrespectful and potentially dangerous behavior?

Guest:

Hal Kempfer, Retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel; CEO of KIPP, Knowledge & Intelligence Program Professionals

David Michael Brahms, Retired Marine Brigadier General; Court-Martial Laywer practicing in San Diego


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