Panetta orders probe on soldiers’ photo scandal
WASHINGTON (PAN): Following the publication of pictures, an embarrassed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has ordered an investigation into a two-year old incident where US soldiers posed for pictures with the body parts of Afghan bomber.
“Secretary Panetta strongly rejects the conduct depicted in these two-year old photographs. These images by no means represent the values or professionalism of the vast majority of US troops serving in Afghanistan today,” the Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.
In a lead story The Los Angeles Times said that as American soldier released the photos to it to draw attention to the safety risk of a breakdown in leadership and discipline.
“The conduct depicted in those photographs is reprehensible. It does not in any way represent the standards of the US military. And the President certainly shares in the defense secretary's opinion that this needs to be investigated and those responsible will be held accountable,” the White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
Little said an investigation that could lead to disciplinary measures is underway. Anyone found responsible for this inhuman conduct will be held accountable in accordance with US military justice system.
Panetta is also disappointed that despite his request not to publish these photographs, the daily went ahead. “The danger is that this material could be used by the enemy to incite violence against US and Afghan service members in Afghanistan. US forces in the country are taking security measures to guard against it,” Little said.
Publishing these pictures, the newspaper said the army launched a criminal investigation after it showed officials copies of the photos, which recently were given to the paper by a soldier.
“The photos have emerged at a particularly sensitive moment for US-Afghan relations,” said the Times said. In January, a video appeared on the Internet showing four US Marines urinating on Afghan corpses.
In February, the inadvertent burning of copies of the Quran at a US base triggered riots that left 30 people dead and led to the deaths of six Americans.
In March, a US army sergeant went on a shooting rampage in two Afghan villages -- killing 17 civilians -- including children and women, it said.
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