March 21st, 2011
12:07 PM ET

Photos published of alleged U.S. atrocities in Afghanistan

Spc. Jeremy Morlock, left, and Pfc. Andrew Holmes are facing charges relating to the wrongful deaths of Afghan civilians.

The German news outlet Der Spiegel has published photographs of what appear to be two U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan posing over the bodies of dead Afghans - images which threaten to further complicate the American military effort there.

Two images show the soldiers kneeling by a bloody body sprawled over a patch of sand and grass. A third shows what appears to be two bodies propped up, back to back, against a post in front of a military vehicle.

Der Spiegel identifies the soldiers as Spc. Jeremy Morlock and Pfc. Andrew Holmes, who are both facing charges relating to the wrongful deaths of Afghan civilians.  (More on the cases)

Specifically, Holmes is charged with the premeditated deaths of three civilians, possessing a dismembered human finger, wrongfully possessing photographs of human casualties, and smoking hashish.

He is also accused of conspiring with Morlock to shoot at a civilian and then toss a grenade so it would look like the soldiers were under attack.

Morlock is charged with three counts of murder. He is accused of killing one Afghan civilian in January 2010 with a grenade and rifle; killing another in May 2010 in a similar manner; and shooting a third to death in February 2010.

U.S. military rules also prohibit "taking or retaining individual souvenirs or trophies," which the photographs may be construed as.

The trial for the two soldiers is being conducted at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. Morlock's court martial is slated to begin Wednesday, while the start date for Holmes' court martial has not been publicly announced.

The U.S. Army released a statement Monday calling the photographs "repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States Army."

"We apologize for the distress these photos cause," the statement said.

Army officials asserted in the statement that ongoing court-martial proceedings related to the alleged atrocities "speak for themselves. The photos appear in stark contrast to the discipline, professionalism and respect that have characterized our soldiers' performance during nearly 10 years of sustained operations."

They also stressed that the "United States Army is committed to adherence to the Law of War and the humane and respectful treatment of combatants, noncombatants, and the dead. ... Soldiers who commit offenses will be held accountable as appropriate."

In all, officials have charged 12 U.S. soldiers in what they called a conspiracy to murder Afghan civilians and cover it up, along with charges they mutilated corpses and kept grisly souvenirs. Five of the soldiers face murder charges, while seven others are charged with participating in a coverup.

All of the accused men were members of a 2nd Infantry Division brigade operating near Kandahar in southern Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010.

CNN's Alan Silverleib and Scott Zamost contributed to this report

soundoff (463 Responses)
  1. VRush

    Correction – Talk about showing no shame on film – they show no shame in the state of play ... But I am sure they're only pawns in the game of chess being played out!

    April 11, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Watching

    salerno has confessed that he is a DESERTER, therefore not worth listening to.

    March 26, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      I did not confess to be a deserter, I CLAIMED to be a deserter and I am proud to keep my desertion alive.
      I prefer to be alive and spare my life for something more important and more interesting.

      March 26, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
      • Michael


        October 28, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Watching

      our village idiot/DESERTER wants to split hairs......... claim or confess....whatever. Desertion is still desertion.

      Synonyms for claim: affirm, allege, assert, aver, avouch, avow, contend, declare, insist, maintain, profess, protest, purport, warrant, put forth

      Synonyms for confess: accede, accept, acquiesce, allow, avow, come clean, come out of closet, concede, cop a plea, crack*, declare, fess up, get off chest, grant, let on, open up, own, profess, recognize, yield

      March 26, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Will 18E

    Johnny this is not about the "military" or being perfect. Posing with the dead as this leg did, is a violation of the UCMJ; To include the tard who took the picture.
    What Anwar is suggesting is that, these individuals, and not the military do what they want because the are armed with deadly forces. That they freely choose to do, at times, what they want to do, and not what the military wants.
    More disturbing is not only the lack of respect for a fallen enemy solider, or civilian, but the lack of self respect for posing with the dead corpses, while holding his head up like a big game trophy.
    Had the two, not been involved with the picture, they would have never been charged. Idiots.

    March 22, 2011 at 4:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Anwar

      Well said, Will18E.

      March 22, 2011 at 7:31 am | Report abuse |
  4. Rita

    If it turns out that the dead are muslims, Obama's gonna have these soldiers's Azzes!

    March 22, 2011 at 3:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Teo

      Going back to school would be a good move. Pay attention next time, so that you can come back in a few years and actually post an intelligent thought.

      March 22, 2011 at 7:20 am | Report abuse |
  5. darkz

    what else do you expect from rabid dogs

    March 22, 2011 at 3:43 am | Report abuse |
  6. m j walder aust

    you are all lucky you are not in a muslam country you don't know what you are up agaist

    March 22, 2011 at 3:31 am | Report abuse |
  7. DeLoveSaL

    Let me first say sorry to those effected, sorry! Please note: That these actions do not express all the American people's opinions, just the men themselves. I am an American & I do not agree. I am proud of my country. Though I hate many things that Americans do, I much more love our freedoms. One day I hope my own people will understand that freedom doesn't mean we can do anything we want. You would think that a free people would understand the heart of freedom, that without choice there is no freedom, even if it was only in our mind. But these actions come with freedom though, we deal with them daily. The mind misunderstanding freedom, instead of gaining respect for it, they take advantage of it. But clearly not all, for where would I have found these words lest I have respected it? Therefore I prove my point, not to let these actions speak for the American people, but only for them who did these things. Moreover, we do not take away freedom because of them that do not respect it, but we embrace it knowing that they who do respect it, are worthy of it. Or we by taking it away strip the worthy of it & that is not fair to them. Last, how can in bondage one ever expect to respect freedom not knowing it?

    March 22, 2011 at 3:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Barb

      i'm not proud of our country. Our government does nothing but bicker, fight, and complain with, and about each other. They spend too much time in the news taking verbal shots at each other and our president. They make promises to us, then fight each other about nothing and refuse to vote on things that need voted on. They point fingers and throw blame at everyone but don't stop to think what they're doing to our country. They constantly make remarks that can, and often times do, seem racist. I'm not taking either side in this, I blame all of the big shots in our country for what's going on. Or rather, the lack of progress.

      March 22, 2011 at 4:42 am | Report abuse |
1 2