WASHINGTON - The US Marine Corps has identified the four Marines in a video shown urinating on what appear to be dead Taliban fighters and has named a lead investigating officer to decide whether they should be charged, Marine officials said yesterday without releasing any names.
Marine officials were also attempting to identify the person who shot the video, which emerged early Thursday and has incited a wave of anti-US sentiment at a delicate moment in the decade-long war in Afghanistan.
Two of the Marines were questioned Thursday by criminal investigators and released to their commanders, the officials said. All served in the Third Battalion, Second Marines, based in Camp Lejuene, N.C.
The lead investigating officer is Lieutenant General Thomas D. Waldhauser, the commander of the Marine Corp’s Central Command, which oversees all Marine operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is to be responsible for two concurrent investigations: a criminal inquiry into the actions of the four Marines and possibly others, and a military inquiry into leadership issues with the command and factors that led to the incident.
Marine officials said although the dead men were identified as Taliban fighters in the video, they had no confirmation from the battalion. Identifying the dead men and their affiliation would also be part of the investigation, Marine officials said.
The top US general in Afghanistan, General John R. Allen, expressed his disgust over the video yesterday, saying the images “are in direct opposition to everything the military stands for.’’