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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Marine Who Urinated on Taliban Corpses Says He Has No Regrets

A United States Marine who was videotaped with several others urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan in 2011 said in remarks broadcast this week that he had no regrets about the incident and would do it again out of revenge for the killing of American soldiers.

Staff Sgt. Joseph Chamblin said in an interview with North Carolina’s WSOC-TV Channel 9 that he was with a team on a mission to stop Taliban insurgents who were making improvised bombs, and at one point they were sent out to recover the bodies of Taliban fighters following a gun battle. That was after a fellow member of the military, Sgt. Mark Bradley, was killed by an roadside bomb, the network reported.

Sergeant Chamblin said the platoon wanted revenge. “We’re human. Who wouldn’t if you lost your brother or mother? Wouldn’t you want revenge?”

He later added, in part, that the action was intended to have a “psychological effect” on the Taliban forces, because as he described it, an “infidel” touching their bodies would prevent them from going to paradise in the afterlife. “So, now these insurgents see what happens when you mess with us.”

“I regret maybe any repercussion it might have had on the Marines. But do I regret doing it? Hell no,” Sergeant Chamblin said. Asked if he would do it again, he said, “Yup.”

The video showing the Marines urinating came to light and was widely disseminated on video-sharing Web sites including LiveLeak and YouTube in January last year. It provoked anger and condemnation in Afghanistan and around the world. Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said at the time it was “absolutely inconsistent” with American values.

The American-led coalition in Afghanistan said in a statement that the behavior “dishonors the sacrifices and core values of every service member representing the 50 nations of the coalition.”

Pentagon officials said the video had been made between March and September 2011, when the battalion was stationed in Helmand, a strategic Taliban province. Seven of the approximately 1,000 Marines in the battalion were killed during the seven-month deployment, according to The New York Times report on the incident.

Sergeant Chamblin later added in the interview: “Do you want the Marine Corps to be a group of Boy Scout pretty boys or do you want guys that will go out there and kill the people that are trying to take advantage of your country and kill Americans?”

“Which do you want?” he continued. “Because you can’t have both.”

At a court-martial last December, Sergeant Chamblin pleaded guilty to charges of dereliction of duty and wrongfully urinating on a deceased enemy combatant. His sentence was a reduction in rank and forfeiture of $500 in pay, the Marine Corps said in a Reuters report.

Follow Christine Hauser on Twitter @christineNYT.