Leaked photos a disgrace to US military personnel
Published: Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 17:03
We all know that a soldier's duty is to protect and serve his or her country. Having been at war in Afghanistan for nine years now, the United States has been fighting terrorism and doing its best to liberate the country's people.
Recently, disturbing images have surfaced for the entire world to see.
Earlier this month, the German news organization, Der Spiegel, published leaked photos of U.S. soldiers posing with the corpses of Afghan civilians. The photos were seized by Army investigators months ago, who have been secretly looking into the deaths of three unarmed Afghans last year. Five soldiers have been charged with murder and conspiracy by the U.S. Army and will be court martialed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in the state of Washington.
According to an article in The Huffington Post, the photos include Cpl. Jeremy Morlock of Wasilla, Alaska, and Pvt. 1st Class Andrew Holmes of Boise, Idaho, posing and smiling with a bloodied, partially naked body. These photos are not only gruesome, but humiliating, depicting the soldiers holding the victim's head up by the hair as if they were a deer who had just been hunted down for sport.
Needless to say, these photographs cast the United States Army in an extremely negative light. When the U.S. Army first launched "Operation Enduring Freedom" back in 2001 and the war in Afghanistan started, our goal was to dismantle al-Qaida and liberate the country from terrorism. What does it say about our country and the war when we see our own soldiers posing with civilian corpses?
The U.S. Army released a statement apologizing for the distress that the photos have caused, stating that the photos are "repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States Army."
Last week, Morlock pleaded guilty to the murders and received a 24-year sentence as part of his negotiation to testify against co-defendants. The four other accused soldiers are awaiting court martial.
Something that is very unnerving to the American people is that the investigation was being held completely under wraps. The actual murders occurred in January, 2010, more than a year ago. If the photos hadn't leaked and ended up on Der Spiegel, the entire investigation could have been swept under the rug.
In the midst of the chaos in war, I feel it's easy for non-war related acts of violence to occur.
The U.S. needs to be a lot more careful with who is joining the military. There should be a far more effective screening process. The U.S. Army currently does a criminal background check and will have you sit down with a clinical psychologist to see if you are mentally stable. I believe that the process should follow the soldiers even during their actual service; they should be monitored more closely in the field.
The world is full of people who have the wrong motives when it comes to war and serving their country. The U.S. is no exception. It's the Army's job to seek out men and women who wish to carry out their mission and not be distracted by personal vendettas or violent urges.
Not only do these photos depict our soldiers disgracing the United States Army, they call into question their morality as human beings. Many would argue that war changes people and that these soldiers become desensitized to bloodshed. This is absolutely no excuse to kill innocent civilians.
These men and women have gone through specific and intense training to do what they do, to protect and serve. Last time I checked, killing civilians and taking souvenir photographs wasn't part of that job description.