Video of U.S. Marines urinating on Taliban fighters

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The video

A video of U.S. Marines urinating on Taliban fighters was posted to websites in January 2012.[1][2] The video was widely viewed on YouTube, TMZ and other sites, and caused anger and outrage in Afghanistan and the Middle East.[3][4]

Content of the video[edit]

The video shows four men dressed in full U.S. Marine combat gear laughing and joking as they urinate on what appear to be dead men somewhere in a rural part of Afghanistan.[5][6] News sources describe the dead men as Taliban insurgents. There is a wheelbarrow next to them and the scene appears as rural farming area. One of the bodies is covered in blood and the Marine can be heard joking "Have a great day, buddy", "Golden like a shower" and "Yeahhhh!"[7]


Subsequent investigation would reveal that the incident took place around July 27, 2011 during a counter-insurgency operation near Sandala, Musa Qala District in Helmand Province, Afghanistan,[8] a Taliban stronghold and a center of opium poppy production that was the scene of tough fighting at the time.

The urinating Marines were from the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines based at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Of the roughly 1,000 Marines in the battalion, seven were killed during the unit's seven-month deployment in the area.[9]

Investigation, perpetrators, and punishment[edit]

Within a day of the video's release, internal and criminal investigations were initiated by the Marine Corps. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos assigned LtGen Steven A. Hummer to conduct an internal investigation. Additionally, Gen. Amos directed the Naval Criminal Investigation Service to conduct a criminal investigation. Desecrating bodies is a crime under U.S. military law and the Geneva Conventions.[10] ISAF spokesman Col. Gary Kolb told CNN, "In extreme cases, an act such as urinating on a body could be construed as a war crime."[11]

Initially, Gen. Amos designated Lt. Gen Thomas Waldhauser, the highest ranking Marine in Afghanistan, to receive the reports and decide on discipline and punishment.[12] However, in the beginning of February, Amos met Waldhauser in the United Arab Emirates, and they discussed the case. Amos expressed his desire for the Marines involved to be punished harshly.[13] These conversations created the issue of unlawful command influence: it now appeared that Waldhauser was being pressured by his superior rather than sitting as an impartial judge. In an attempt to correct his mistake, Gen Amos replaced Waldhauser with Lt. Gen. Richard P. Mills.[14] However, the issue of unlawful command influence would continue to dog the investigation.

On August 27, 2012 the U.S. Marine Corps announced that three Marines involved in the incident received non-judicial administrative punishments.[15] They will also receive a permanent mark on their records that will impact any future promotions and re-enlistments.[8]

A press release from Lt. Gen Mills' headquarters stated: "We hold Marines to a high standard of ethical behavior. The Marine Corps takes misconduct by Marines very seriously and is committed to holding accountable those who are responsible."[15] The press release also indicated that "disciplinary actions against other Marines involved in the incident will be announced at a later date."[15]

Two U.S. Marines—Staff Sergeants Joseph W. Chamblin and Edward W. Deptola—have been charged in the middle of September 2012 for "violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice" for their involvement in the urination incident.[16][17][18][19] The two staff sergeants were officially charged with "posing for unofficial photographs with human casualties," failing to properly prevent or report misconduct by junior Marines under their command, the indiscriminate firing of a grenade launcher and the indiscriminate firing of an enemy machine gun.[19] Lt. Gen. Mills referred both staff sergeants to a Special Court Martial. Referring their cases to a Special Court Martial skips the evidentiary hearings needed to proceed to a General Court Martial and also limits their potential punishments. The maximum punishments available under a Special Court Martial is one year of confinement, a two-thirds forfeiture of pay for one year, a reduction in rank to Private and a bad conduct discharge.[19]

Chamblin has published his view of the events in a book.[20]


Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that "the government of Afghanistan is deeply disturbed by a video that shows American soldiers desecrating dead bodies of three Afghans."[21][22]

Arsala Rahmani, a leading negotiator in Karzai's peace council said that the film will have a "very, very bad impact on peace efforts" and that "Looking at such action, the Taliban can easily recruit young people and tell them that their country has been attacked by Christians and Jews and they must defend it."[23]

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said "I have seen the footage, and I find the behavior depicted in it utterly deplorable."[24]

Congressman Allen West said, "The Marines were wrong. Give them a maximum punishment under field grade level Article 15 (non-judicial punishment), place a General Officer level letter of reprimand in their personnel file, and have them in full dress uniform stand before their Battalion, each personally apologize to God, Country, and Corps videotaped and conclude by singing the full US Marine Corps Hymn without a teleprompter. As for everyone else, unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth, war is hell."[25]

Dana Loesch said in her The Dana Show on KFTK, a conservative radio station, "Can someone explain to me if there's supposed to be a scandal that someone pees on the corpse of a Taliban fighter? Someone who, as part of an organization, murdered over 3,000 Americans? I'd drop trou and do it too. That's me though. I want a million cool points for these guys. Is that harsh to say? Come on people this is a war. What do people think this is. I am totally not politically correct. I told you this. They think that we are going to sit down and have tea." She added "Do I have a problem with that as a citizen of the United States? No, I don't."[26] Goldie Taylor, a former Marine responded to Loesch's remarks, "disgusting,” adding “to say you would ‘drop trou’ and do the same thing, I question someone’s integrity who would say something like that."[27]

A Taliban spokesman said: "First they killed the Afghans with mortars, and they then urinated on their bodies. We strongly condemn this inhumane action by the wild American soldiers."[28]

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she believed the men may be guilty of a war crime.[10]

Effects of the video[edit]

The video caused outrage in Afghanistan, the Middle East and across the world.[29][30] An Afghan soldier who shot dead four French troops in Afghanistan and wounded another eight seriously said that he did it because of the American soldiers who urinated on bodies in the video.[31][32] The released video eroded, along with the burning of the Muslim holy book Quran by US troops and Panjwai shooting spree, relations between the United States and Afghanistan,[33][34] has seriously damaged the image of American soldiers before the Afghan public,[33] and was according to the Taliban one of their reasons for their April 2012 Afghanistan attacks.[35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "US to probe Taliban corpses desecration". Pakistan Today. 2012-01-12. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  2. ^ "US marines in 'barbaric' corpse abuse video identified". Agence France-Presse (AFP). Herald Sun. January 13, 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  3. ^ "Outrage over video of Marines urinating on Taliban corpses". ABS-CBN News. Reuters. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  4. ^ "Viral Images, The Military's Recurring Nightmare". NPR. 2012-01-12. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  5. ^ "Could the 'Urination Video' Become a Defining Image of the Afghan War? - Yochi J. Dreazen - International". The Atlantic. 2012-01-12. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  6. ^ Sanchez, Raf (2012-01-12). "US defence secretary Leon Panetta condemns 'utterly deplorable' behaviour of US Marine 'urination' video". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  7. ^ Bowley, Graham; Rosenberg, Matthew (2012-01-12). "U.S. Deplores Video of Marines Urinating on Taliban". The New York Times.
  8. ^ a b Jim Miklaszewski and Courtney Kube (27 August 2012). "Military punishes soldiers for Quran burning, Marines for urinating on Taliban corpses". NBC News. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
  9. ^ Bumiller, Elisabeth (28 August 2012). "US troops punished for Quran burning, urination video". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
  10. ^ a b "Corpse abuse a 'war crime'". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2012-01-15.
  11. ^ "Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemns video of US Marines 'urinating on Taliban bodies'". Global Poat. 11 January 2012. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
  12. ^ US Department of Defense Inspector General (July 23, 2014). Report of Investigation: General James F. Amos, United States Marine Corps. p. 3. On January 13, 2012, Gen Amos formally appointed LtGen Waldhauser to serve as the CDA for the urination incident . . . The appointment of a CDA is a mechanism to place all necessary administrative and disciplinary action authority under a single military officer. The CDA serves as a court-martial convening authority.CS1 maint: location (link)
  13. ^ US Department of Defense Inspector General. pp. 12–19.
  14. ^ US Department of Defense Inspector General. pp. 19–20. On February 10, 2012, Gen Amos formally withdrew LtGen Waldhauser's CDA designation . . . explain[ing] the action as follows: 'I believe some of my comments during our recent conversation could be perceived as possibly interfering with your independent and unfettered discretion to take action in these cases. To protect the institutional integrity of the military justice process, and to avoid any potential issues, I withdraw your CDA designation.'
  15. ^ a b c Martinez, Luis (27 August 2012). "Punishments Handed Down For Marines in Urinating Video". ABCNews. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
  16. ^ "U.S. Marines Charged for Urinating On Taliban Corpses". TMZ Staff. TMZ. 24 September 2012. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
  17. ^ Garrison, Cassandra (24 September 2012). "Two Marines charged after video of troops urinating on dead bodies of insurgents". Archived from the original on 1 October 2012. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
  18. ^ "Marines charged for urinating on corpses". United Press International. Bloomberg Businessweek. 25 September 2012. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
  19. ^ a b c Martinez, Luis (24 September 2012). "Criminal Charges for Marines in Taliban Urination Video". ABC News. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
  21. ^ "Two Marines Identified in Afghanistan Urination Video - International Business Times". International Business Times. 2012-01-12. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  22. ^ "Karzai condemns video showing men in uniform urinating on bodies -". 2012-01-12. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  23. ^ Chris McGreal in Washington (2012-01-12). "Karzai leads condemnation over video as US identifies marines | World news |". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  24. ^ "Panetta Calls Marines' Behavior In Urination Video 'Deplorable' - Politics News Story - KSBW The Central Coast". 2012-01-12. Archived from the original on 2013-01-27. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  25. ^ Daniel Halper (January 13, 2012). "Allen West on the Marines Incident: 'Shut Your Mouth, War Is Hell']". The Weekly Standard.
  26. ^ "Dana Loesch on Marines Urinating on Taliban Corpses: 'I'd Drop Trou and do it too' [AUDIO & VIDEO]". International Business Times. 14 January 2012. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
  27. ^ Tommy, Christopher (15 January 2012). "Goldie Taylor Calls Out CNN's Dana Loesch On CNN Over Urinate-Gate". Mediaite. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
  28. ^ "US defense chief blasts Marines' purported action". Associated Press. DAWN.COM. 12 January 2012. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
  29. ^ Graham Bowley; Matthew Rosenberg (12 January 2012). "Video Inflames a Delicate Moment for U.S. in Afghanistan". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
  30. ^ "Outrage over video of Marines urinating on Taliban corpses". ABS-CBN News. Reuters. 2012-01-13. Retrieved 2012-04-19.
  31. ^ "Afghan soldier 'killed French troops over US abuse video'". Agence France-Presse (AFP). DAWN.COM. 22 January 2012. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
  32. ^ "Afghan soldier 'killed French troops over US abuse video'". The Telegraph. London. 22 January 2012. Retrieved 24 June 2012.
  33. ^ a b Tom Shanker; Graham Bowley (18 April 2012). "Images of G.I.'s and Remains Fuel Fears of Ebbing Discipline". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
  34. ^ "U.S. Soldiers Pose With Bodies Of Suicide Bombers In Afghanistan". The Huffington Post. 18 April 2012. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
  35. ^ "Afghan Taliban bombs diplomats & NATO HQ in revenge to US (PHOTOS, VIDEO)". 16 April 2012. Retrieved 24 June 2012.

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