No Criminal Charges for Marines Who Urinated on Afghan Corpses

May Face 'Reprimands' for Video

One of several embarrassing episodes of US troops behaving badly in occupied Afghanistan came to an end today, when the military announced that the three US Marines who were caught on video urinating on the corpses of slain Afghan militants will not face any criminal charges.

Instead, the military is playing up a possible “administrative” reaction to the video, likely to include a formal reprimand or at best the docking of some of their pay. The video was leaked in January, but was actually taken in July of 2011.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai met with tribal elders in the area in which the video was taken at the time, loudly condemning it and demanding action. The US had promised to hold the troops accountable to the fullest extent, which apparently was not accountable at all.

US officials said the video was being used by militant groups as a recruitment tool, and the Marines insisted it was against their policy to do so. The desecration of corpses during a war is a serious crime under the US Uniform code of Military Justice as well as the Geneva Conventions.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.