Not every media outlet in the United States spent Wednesday participating in the endless red herring directed by the Obama campaign at Mitt Romney's passed dog Seamus, which the Romney campaign gave into this week by bringing up the president's dog eating days in Indonesia. Amidst all this nonsense, another story raised eyebrows Wednesday in the Los Angeles Times featuring images of U.S. troops posing with the mangled bodies of suicide bombers in Afghanistan.
A soldier from from the 82nd Airborne Division recently passed the graphic photos to the L.A. Times that were originally taken from the police station in Afghanistan's Zabol province in February 2010. The paper published the images Wednesday morning as the Army has launched a criminal investigation following the Times revealing to officials copies of the photos, after the paper first received them. The Times reports on the graphic images:
Two soldiers posed holding a dead man's hand with the middle finger raised. A soldier leaned over the bearded corpse while clutching the man's hand. Someone placed an unofficial platoon patch reading "Zombie Hunter" next to other remains and took a picture.
The photos have emerged at a particularly sensitive moment for U.S.-Afghan relations. In January, a video appeared on the Internet showing four U.S. Marines urinating on Afghan corpses. In February, the inadvertent burning of copies of the Koran at a U.S. base triggered riots that left 30 dead and led to the deaths of six Americans. In March, a U.S. Army sergeant went on a nighttime shooting rampage in two Afghan villages, killing 17.
The soldier who provided The Times with a series of 18 photos of soldiers posing with corpses did so on condition of anonymity. He served in Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne's 4th Brigade Combat Team from Ft. Bragg, N.C. He said the photos point to a breakdown in leadership and discipline that he believed compromised the safety of the troops.
U.S. military officials were swift to condemn the actions of the soldiers in the images released by the Times. Pentagon press secretary George Little commented, before the story was even published, that Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta “rejects the conduct depicted in these 2-year-old photographs.”
“Anyone found responsible for this inhuman conduct will be held accountable in accordance with our military justice system,” Little told The Associated Press.
Gen. John R. Allen, the U.S. commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, said there is a strict policy for the handling of enemy remains and it dictates they be processed as humanely as possible.
“The incident depicted in the L.A. Times’ photographs represents a serious error in judgment by several soldiers who have acted out of ignorance and unfamiliarity with U.S. Army values,” Gen. Allen said to AP, adding that commanders “will collaborate with Afghan authorities and carefully examine the facts and circumstances shown in these photos.”
Considering the cost of human life that followed the Koran burning incident in February, some have questioned whether the Times should have even posted the photos that seem sure to rile up enthusiasm amongst terrorists. Times Editor Davan Maharaj addressed the issue, writing in the paper Wednesday:
"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."
Rather than Seamus, "Real News from The Blaze" focused Wednesday's opening segment on the national security ramifications and questions regarding journalistic ethics that surround the Times piece.
Buck Sexton, "Real News" panelist and The Blaze's national security analyst, cautioned that the public should not rush to judgement in reaction to these photos, which raise two questions for him. The first being; what motivated the soldier to leak these images knowing they could hurt his colleagues in the field, and that said, in addition to the incident happening two years ago; why were some of these images even published? Is the media only playing politics, and in doing so, putting troops at risk?
"Some of the media I should say, the liberal media, is much more willing to criticize--and in some cases really sort of just go after the troops," Sexton remarked. "It's sort of the reverse of 'we support the troops but not the mission,' which is what they said in Iraq."
"I think we're starting to see they don't want to criticize the mission too much, but they're happy to go after the troops," Sexton said.
Will Cain commented that the images immediately bring to mind prior incidents in Afghanistan involving troops and imprisoned or dead Afghans, espiecially the affair involving video of U.S. troops urinating on dead Afghans that made news last January.
With all that in mind, S.E. Cupp argued in support of those reporting on the actions committed in 2010, for they show clear images of where the system is breaking down and problems in the military that will hopefully now be addressed.
"This is a story that needs to be told," Cupp said.
Cupp and Sexton came to a disagreement with fellow panelist Jedediah Bila on whether the photos, rather than just the report, needed to be published. Cupp and Sexton argued that the art work was unnecessary and dangerous, but Bila questioned whether the story would have ever have been addressed without the images.
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