If Der Spiegel’s photos last week weren’t enough of a taste of the twisted stuff that went on with the “Kill Team” soldiers, Rolling Stone has just published 15 more. In the accompanying article, writer Mark Boal details how two soldiers, Cpl. Jeremy Morlock and Pfc. Andrew Holmes, threw a grenade at, and then opened fire on, a teenage Afghan boy for the pure fun of it.
Then, in a break with protocol, the soldiers began taking photographs of themselves celebrating their kill. Holding a cigarette rakishly in one hand, Holmes posed for the camera with Mudin’s bloody and half-naked corpse, grabbing the boy’s head by the hair as if it were a trophy deer. Morlock made sure to get a similar memento.
Because there were no repercussions for this killing, the soldiers in the 3rd Platoon were emboldened to go on a murderous rampage over the next four months and kill at least three more innocent Afghans.
Boal writes about the enormous cache of photos and video that was created by members of the platoon during this time, which was a clear violation of Army rules — you cannot take photos of the dead and you certainly can’t share them. (I’m not sure if there is specific rule about creating a clip of two Afghans being blown up set to rock music, but I’m assuming that’s also frowned upon.)
And the army, naturally, tried to cover it all up.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal and President Hamid Karzai were reportedly briefed on the photos as early as May, and the military launched a massive effort to find every file and pull the pictures out of circulation before they could touch off a scandal on the scale of Abu Ghraib.
The article is a must-read, and not in the way that “here’s more proof all military are bad.” Not by a long shot. But this behavior undermines everything the US says it stands for, and excusing and accommodating sociopaths in uniform is never the best policy. That the government does this time and time again is just so disheartening.