American soldiers seen posing with deceased bodies of Afghan insurgents are being chasticed for their behavior, according to Reuters.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta regrets the decision of the Los Angeles Times to publish the photos because he fears they might trigger violence towards soldiers stationed in Afghanistan.
One of the pictures shows a U.S. paratrooper posed by a patch placed beside a body that says “Zombie Hunter,” while another picture shows soldiers with Afghan police holding the severed legs of a person. In the last picture, viewers see two soldiers holding a person’s hand with the middle finger raised.
Panetta has apologized during a NATO meeting, “on behalf of the Department of Defense and the U.S. government” and said “that behavior is unacceptable.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney said that Obama was briefed on the issue but was not sure if the president had seen the photos.
The photos were taken in 2010, and published by the Los Angeles Times after the newspaper acquired them from a soldier. The individual who submitted them wished to remain anonymous but has suspicion that the photos are proof of “a breakdown in leadership and discipline that threatened the security of the troops,” according to Reuters.
Panetta also said during the meeting, “That behavior that was depicted in those photos absolutely violates both our regulations and more importantly our core values.”
He continued and said, “I know that war is ugly and it’s violent and I know that young people sometimes caught up in the moment make some very foolish decisions. I’m not excusing that behavior, but neither do I want these images to bring further injury to our people and to our relationship with the Afghan people.”
The pictures are currently under investigation.
However, critics believe that this incident might have “complicated U.S. efforts to negotiate a strategic partnership agreement to define its presence once most foreign combat troops pull out by the end of 2014,” according to Reuters.
While The Los Angeles Times says that the photos were of suicide bombers and insurgents, it is unclear if these people were ordinary Afghans who got caught up in the fighting.