A soldier who wished to remain anonymous gave the Los Angeles Times 18 photos taken in 2010 that show U.S soldiers posing with corpses of insurgents in Afghanistan. The soldier who provided the pictures said he did so in order to show security shortcomings and prevent the embarrassing act from happening again.
On at least two different occasions, U.S. soldiers were sent to gather information from the remains of suicide bombers. After doing their job, they posed with the corpses.
Fearing a violent backlash, the government did not want the pictures to go public. But The Times published two of the photos.
Times Editor Davan Maharaj said in a statement: “After careful consideration, we decided that publishing a small but representative selection of the photos would fulfill our obligation to readers to report vigorously and impartially on all aspects of the American mission in Afghanistan, including the allegation that the images reflect a breakdown in unit discipline that was endangering U.S. troops.”
During a live Web chat, Maharaj said: “The two photos published were chosen because they clearly and unambiguously depict conduct that the Army described as inappropriate. In examining the full set of images, we set aside others on grounds of taste, relevance or repetitiousness. Some were too gruesome. Others were very similar to the two images already chosen or were difficult to interpret.”
Navy Capt. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said the soldiers’ conduct “most certainly does not represent the character and the professionalism of the great majority of our troops in Afghanistan … . Nevertheless, this imagery — more than two years old — now has the potential to indict them all in the minds of local Afghans, inciting violence and perhaps causing needless casualties.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney said they are “disappointed [with] the decision to publish two years after the incident.”
The soldier who gave the photos to The Times remarked that on the second occasion, the pictures were taken as a result of U.S. deaths.
“They were frustrated, just pissed off — their buddies had been blown up by IEDs [improvised explosive devices],” the soldier told The Times. “So they sort of just celebrated.”