U.S. troops punished over Koran burning, urination video

Discussion in 'Americas' started by Oracle, Aug 28, 2012.

  1. Oracle

    Oracle New Member

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    (Reuters) - The U.S. military said on Monday it was disciplining U.S. troops over two incidents that provoked outrage in Afghanistan early this year, one involving a video depicting Marines urinating on corpses and another over burned copies of the Koran.

    The administrative punishments -- which could include things like reduce rank or forfeiture of pay -- fell short of criminal prosecution, and it was unclear whether they would satisfy Afghan demands for justice.

    Afghan President Hamid Karzai earlier this year branded the Marine's actions in the video as "inhuman," and he initially called for a public trial for the soldiers over the Koran incident.

    A detailed U.S. military investigation showed that up to 100 Korans and other religious texts from a detention center library -- a previously undisclosed figure -- were burned on February 20. The investigation found that warnings from Afghans, including a Afghan soldier, had been ignored and attributed the incident in part to distrust between Americans and Afghans.

    "However, I absolutely reject any suggestion that those involved acted with any malicious intent to disrespect the Koran or defame the faith of Islam," the investigating officer, Brigadier General Bryan Watson, wrote.

    The question of distrust between American troops and Afghans has come into sharp focus in recent weeks due to a surge of "insider attacks," in which Afghans believed to be friendly turn their guns against U.S. forces.

    Such distrust has undermined confidence in a U.S. drawdown strategy that relies on training Afghan forces -- sometimes with very small numbers of Americans partnering with them in remote locations -- so they can take over security. Most U.S. combat troops are expected to leave the country by the end of 2014.

    DEADLY RIOTS, ATTACKS ON TROOPS

    The Koran-burning incident touched off several days of rioting and attacks on U.S. troops after local workers found charred copies among the trash at an incinerator at the Bagram base north of Kabul.

    At least 30 people died in the violence that spread across the country after the incident, and two American officers were shot dead in a secure area of the Afghan interior ministry, a crime that remains unsolved.

    The U.S. Army announced on Monday that six soldiers received administrative punishments over the incident, four of them officers and two of the non-commissioned officers, a spokesman said.

    The investigation found that the texts were removed during a sweep of the library at Parwan detention facility due to concerns that detainees were using books to pass messages.

    It partly blamed a translator who warned that up to 75 percent of the books were extremist in nature, including versions of the Koran, but did not instruct American forces how to properly dispose of the texts.

    A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he believed the translator was an Afghan and that he no longer worked for the U.S. military.

    The disclosures about the Koran-burning incident came the same day the Marine Corps detailed its punishment over a video that surfaced on the Internet in January. It showed Marines urinating on the corpses of dead Taliban fighters. One can be heard saying, "Have a nice day, buddy."

    The investigation showed that the incident actually took place on or around July 27, 2011, during a counter-insurgency operation in Afghanistan's Helmand province.

    Three Marines pleaded guilty to charges over the video, including one for "urinating on the body of a deceased Taliban soldier." Another wrongfully posed for a photo with human casualties, and the third lied about the incident to investigators.

    Their identities were not disclosed, and the Marines said disciplinary actions against additional Marines would be announced at a later date.

    Possible punishment includes reduction in rank, forfeiture of pay and punitive letters permanently placed in their records, the Marines said.

    Reuters
     
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  3. Oracle

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    US never fails to amaze me with quick judicial decisions and punishments awarded to the guilty. That to me is a beacon of hope for the future. Bow!
     
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    U.S. troops tried to burn 500 copies of Koran, investigation says

    U.S. troops tried to burn about 500 copies of the Koran as part of a badly bungled security sweep at an Afghan prison in February, despite repeated warnings from Afghan soldiers that they were making a colossal mistake, according to a U.S. military investigative report released Monday.

    The number of copies of the Muslim holy book that were taken to the incinerator at Bagram air base was far greater than U.S. military officials earlier acknowledged in their accounts of an act of desecration that triggered riots across Afghanistan. The incident is also thought to have played at least a partial role in an ensuing increase in attacks against NATO troops by Afghan soldiers and police.

    Despite demands from Afghan officials that the American troops be placed on trial over the Koran burnings, U.S. military officials decided against filing criminal charges. Instead, the Army announced that it had taken less-serious disciplinary action against six soldiers for what they described as unintentional — if costly — mistakes.

    The investigation, however, cited evidence of a jarring lack of religious awareness and cultural training among the U.S. troops. The report said that before their deployment to Afghanistan, the troops were exposed only to about an hour-long PowerPoint presentation about Islam. Although they were generally aware that the Koran was a holy text, the report said, they were ignorant of the extreme cultural offense their mishandling of it could cause.

    The Army did not release the names of the six soldiers because they received only unspecified administrative punishments and did not face criminal charges. A Navy sailor also was investigated, but officials said disciplinary measures were dropped in that case.

    Meanwhile, in another case of offensive behavior in the war zone, the Marine Corps said Monday that it disciplined — but stopped short of filing criminal charges against — three noncommissioned officers for their involvement in an incident last year in which Marines videotaped themselves urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters.

    The video became international news after it was posted anonymously to a Web site in January, becoming the latest strain on relations between Afghan civilians and the NATO-led military coalition that has occupied the country for the past decade. The short clip depicts four Marines in combat gear laughing as they relieved themselves over three prostrate bodies.

    After a lengthy investigation, the Marine Corps said it determined that the video was recorded in July 2011 by members of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment while they were deployed to the village of Sandala in Helmand province.

    Three Marines pleaded guilty Monday to violations of military regulations but were spared more-serious charges that could have resulted in a court-martial. Because the cases did not go to trial, the Marines Corps declined to identify the three or to disclose the nature of their punishments.

    Disciplinary measures are pending against other Marines involved in the case, said Col. Sean D. Gibson, a spokesman for the Quantico-based Marine Corps Combat Development Command. He declined to say how many other Marines might be implicated.

    The Army’s investigation of the burning of the Korans documented a series of blunders by U.S. troops and military police officers who — unable to speak local languages — mistakenly assumed that they were disposing of radical literature found in the library of the Parwan detention center, located at the edge of Bagram air base.

    Acting on suspicions that prisoners were passing illicit notes in the margins of library books, U.S. troops asked an Afghan translator to take a look. The translator concluded, erroneously, that the majority of the library’s holdings were extremist in nature, according to the investigative report.

    Prison guards boxed up almost 2,000 of the suspicious books. Of those, 474 were Korans and 1,100 were unobjectionable religious tracts. The remainder were secular volumes, the investigation found.

    When Afghan soldiers and guards at the prison learned of the plan to burn the books, they objected loudly. But U.S. troops, responding to miscommunicated orders as well as suspicions about their Afghan allies, transported the materials to a burn pit at Bagram air base.

    Most of the texts were rescued at the last minute by Afghan workers at the base, who quickly shut off the incinerator and doused the flames after realizing that the daily trash pile contained Muslim holy books. The military said, however, that “up to 100” Korans and other religious texts were burned.

    Afterward, the Afghans so distrusted Americans to properly handle the saved Korans that they hid them under rugs, in closets and even in kitchen microwaves.

    The investigating officer, Army Brig. Gen. Bryan G. Watson, said in the report that he found no evidence of “malicious intent to disrespect the Koran or defame the faith of Islam” on the part of the U.S. troops.

    “Ultimately, this tragic incident resulted from a lack of cross-talk between leaders and commands, a lack of senior leader involvement [and] distrust among our US Service Members and our partners,” he concluded.

    WashingtonPost
     
  5. Oracle

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    /\/\/\ If the court saw no merit, then I guess the case was weak from the start. Sitting judges are not fools.
     
  6. Oracle

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    /\/\/\ Please do not hijack the thread.
     

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