Overheard on CNN.com: Marine urination video draws thousands of story comments
A video purporting to show U.S. Marines urinating on dead bodies has sparked a huge conversation on CNN.com.
January 12th, 2012
03:43 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Marine urination video draws thousands of story comments

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community. Due to the provocative nature of this story, comments on this post will be disabled at the end of the day.

The story of a video purporting to show U.S. Marines urinating on dead bodies has generated thousands of fiery comments. Our readers were split between those who were outraged by this action on the deceased, and those who felt we should not be too quick to condemn the soldiers. One one hand, the commenters suggested we could be arming oppositional groups with fodder for anti-U.S. rhetoric. But there were many who said the video is a coarse reflection of the brutality of war and didn't want people to feel negatively about the military.

Shock, outrage over Marine urination video

We've seen a pretty even split of comments, with outrage and frustration expressed on all sides. Here's some of them. For example, this reader says this video, if real, shows an isolated event.

Dhamre: "A handful of young Marines did something really stupid and decided to film it. This isn't the defining moment of our history, or a reflection of all men and women in uniform."

Below is a sampling of some of the discussion we saw about whether the stresses of war help explain the Marines' actions.

Wilburchitow: "To all those who want to try and morally equivocate please stop. Yes we know the enemy has done far worse, but it is no excuse to partake in these types of actions. Our military is better than this and I know when found they will face justice!"

Allfight: "Maybe. But I hope they go very easy on them because they are doing a job that few can do let alone will do. They probably lost friends along the way. Like it or not. It's natural to hate someone that is trying to kill you. Anyone who says otherwise probably was never in that situation."

The following reader said she had lost a loved one in war, and felt the urination incident was an insult to the sacrifices the military makes.

boobush: "Sad that many of you missed a basic grade-school lesson of two wrongs not making a right. I am not a naive bleeding heart here; someone I loved very much was shot dead by a sniper in Iraq almost 7 years ago. My life is forever changed. However, someone urinating on a dead body will never bring him back. This is just another propaganda tool for the Taliban, and we just gave it to them. I would hope we would strive to be better than our enemy."

Matt6571: "Good Call. I've been around the military my whole life as well. Growing up and serving the last 22 years myself. I have lost friends in this war and have been there three times. You have my respect and appreciation."

boobush: "Thank you. I understand people have hard feelings here, but I feel so strongly about this. It is much harder to not act this way. I come from a military family, and have the utmost respect for all who serve. This is not a way to honor those who have served; especially not those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Of course, we are all entitled to our opinion."

But this commenter dared his fellow writers to endure the realities of war.

Midnitejax: "To all of you that are 'outraged' or consider this barbaric I say this: Put your boots on and climb into the sand box. When you have been in combat for a few weeks, and you smell of urine, sweat, and the blood from you or a fellow soldier then talk about the humanity of war. When you see children and corpses used as road blocks for IEDs, then talk about the humanity of war. When the stench of death permeates the air around you day in and day out, then talk about the humanity of war. Urinating on a deceased enemy that a few minutes earlier was trying to kill you is somehow minute in the scheme of things. Lopping off heads and slitting throats is somehow not barbaric?"

Several readers cited videos that had been released in the past, which showed people including journalist Daniel Pearl being beheaded as cameras rolled. They said this incident is minor in comparison. Others said that doesn't matter because the U.S. military must adhere to a higher standard than the Taliban and al Qaeda.

CrakHedMac: "I remember the string of beheading videos from a couple years ago and I suddenly don't find this urination that bad."

F0st3rs: "U.S. troops are held to a higher standard, even if it hampers their ability to win. Urinating on the corpses of the enemy does not meet that standard or create and advantage to win. It is plain stupid to do it, and even more stupid to video the deed."

This reader said the enemy is ruthless.

shaydenfroyd: "While taking a break from beheading infidels, stoning women and children to death, and blowing-up mosques and burning school houses, a spokesman for Taliban/Pakistani ISI voiced disgust at this 'inhuman' behavior."

But there were several readers who theorized that this video could provide ammunition for the enemy.

PotandKettle: "Just because they choose to behead captives doesn't mean we sink to their level by pissing on their dead. They just made the jobs of those still deployed that much more dangerous by giving hostiles this piece of propaganda to easily recruit more to their cause. How to you convince somebody whose country your occupying, that you have their best intentions in mind when there is a video circulating around of somebody wearing your same uniform pissing on their fellow man's corpse? Forget American law, forget the UCMJ, if this is found to be legit, these individuals need to be handed over to Afghanistan authorities. Complete disgrace to those serving and those who have served."

Some of the responses came from people claiming to be military veterans. These readers had very diverse and divergent views about the video, with some saying it's understandable in the harsh environment of war and others feeling the footage is a disgrace to people in uniform.

Guest: "I am a veteran, come from a long line of military, have family members actively serving, some in the Middle East. I was expecting some comments in support of this vile behavior, but I am shocked at the number of people defending these soldiers. 'But what about the beheadings?' they say? Well I'll tell you about them, they are on the same spectrum of indecency, immorality and disrespect as this disgusting behavior. Blind nationalists spout, 'We support our troops no matter what!' Like that is to be admired and Americans can do no wrong. Ignorance and stupidity is what that is. Same as with the pics out of Abu Ghraib a few years ago. When we bring ourselves to the same level as our 'enemy' we are no better than they are. And guess what, we are not better than they are. I do not want my country's troops performing acts like these in my name. Bottom line, at the risk of being cliche, 'two wrongs still don't make a right' and only morons and those with a low moral compass believe that they do. These soldiers should be punished, it is absolutely shameful and doesn't reflect decent human codes of behavior during peace or war time."

pdough: "Guest - I doubt you are a veteran. But even if you are, it doesn't make you right in your opinion, which you are certainly not. I'm also a veteran and I can tell you that what you witnessed on the video were a group of young warriors who were simply exemplifying comradarie and a complete disdain for a cowardly enemy after disposing of them as a mortal threat on the battlefield. It's not blind nationalism but true patriotism from which those posting here in support of the marines are speaking. The military isn't perfect and those in uniform are never beyond reproach. But there comes a time when you have to pick a side, recognize who your team is and hold all criticism until the last bullet is fired. Not to do this only provides moral support and solace to our enemy which is reprehensible and shameful on your part."

nonnobis: "A soldier's job is to obey all lawful orders and maintain the ability to kill and destroy the enemy without remorse or a second thought to the merits of their cause. A soldier must be a fanatical fighting machine both physically and mentally and that means treating the enemy with contempt until they are all vanquished."

Thoughtocrat: "Thanks for your service. Those who are justifying these acts have forgotten our fundamental values, values that make us different from the rest. These marines have essentially recorded a 'recruitment video' for the Taliban and (al Qaeda), and as an American, I am ashamed of their acts."

These readers said we cannot be like the Taliban.

Vynn: "As a career soldier, it has always been my view that my enemy is as committed a soldier to his own nation and cause as I am to mine, and he deserves my deepest respect and just treatment. Soldiers who do not understand this are not soldiers, but are thugs in uniform who should never be allowed to serve in any capacity. I want these men found and court marshalled, and banned from further service, and branded with the dishonorable discharge they have earned by their disgusting actions in this video."

shockerwhoa3: "I can see a lot of people on here just want us to be like the Taliban. Pissing on the dead bodies of the enemy, cutting off the enemy's head, and pretty much everything the Taliban does. We hold ourselves to a higher standard than these terrorists. Time for people to understand that."

ChefCHEESE: "Well said. Most people here dont know any thing about the standards a serviceman/woman needs to hold themselves up to. This is not standard conduct but like in any organization we have a few bad examples and it only take a few to give everyone a bad name. I am sure the Marine corps will do the right thing and punish these four men, as it is their image that is on the line and the whole world is going to be watching."

The discussion turned into a debate about whether war is necessary.

daddy2010: "Consider this: Who forced them to 'boots on and climb into the sand'?"

Guest: "Thanks for perfectly making the case against war. People need to remember what war is really like and what happens to the brave men and women that we send off to fight. The first casualty of war is often our humanity."

Finally, the readers in the following exchange talked about soldiers being small parts of the bigger war.

OmarComin: "If anything, they should urinate on the politicians that betray them and act like they don't exist when they (if they) return from war."

ThomasHenley: "Half of these guys joined the military after playing to much Halo and Call of Duty, and it shows in these guys of actions. They have been bred into a culture of violence and death where humanity is reduced to a one-dimensional representation in their minds. Pretty tragic all the way around."

cordero13: "How do you know this is how they grew up? Why not say thank you to the servicemen that fight for your freedom. Yeah, some do stupid things, but not all."

What do you think about this video? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Please note that discussion on this post will be disabled at the end of the day. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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soundoff (235 Responses)
  1. Randy

    This definitely tarnishes the image of the Marine Corps, but don't forget to put yourself in the shoes of all the stress that these men have to carry being in a war. Can you kill a man that you respect? I don't remember the vs so do some reading. Your body is God's Temple while you are alive, but you must shed all of your worldly possessions before you enter His Kingdom. What does that tell you about a dead body? This is an image problem only. If you must NJP only.

    January 16, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
  2. James M

    You don't want to be one of these guys when they have to stand and listen to the senior officer who will undoubtedly be a strict disciplinarian who does not appreciate having to give his attention to anything of this nature. This is not a forum where they get to do any of the talking, let alone raise a defense. I suspect there's a 1stLt who doesn't want to lose his bar over this, and I'm very sure he's not going to admit to ordering these men to do what they did, so it's just a matter of disobeying a standing order. It may not be written in black and white, but there's a standing order against doing this. It's probably more serious an infraction to post a combat video on YouTube without authorization. This doesn't end well for any of these men. If any of them are above E-4 I will eat my hat.

    January 16, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. cosmo

    All I know is I wouldnt punish these soldiers.

    January 16, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Misx

      you're funny Poland did not invade Russia robefe WWII and neither attacked CZ. Learn your facts, stop spreading misinformation. In the brief history of USSR as a conglomerate of annexed states, the USSR did so much harm to the world and especially its neighbors, that it is only fitting that today's Russians admit that and instead of pulling long gone history (civil war in Russia was like 300 years ago) they simply stop being such aggressive individuals.I'll give you a few hints and will wait for your answer: Spetember 17, 1939, Katyn & Smolensk, practically 50 years of effective communist occupation after WWII in many countires in Central and Eastern Europe. How about your own people dying by millions during the communism era in gulags, NKWD secret prisons etc.once agaian LEARN YOUR FACTS robefe you write sth or you'll be disregarded

      April 22, 2012 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  4. RICH

    And we worry about some 19 year old men urinating on some enemy soldiers! IT is WAR, America. The enemy is deceitful and will do anything to kill off the world threat of DEMOCRACY and FREEDOM. All they want is to win at any cost. They kill our allies and I guarantee they do worse to our dead and POW's they capture. Oh, they don't take prisoners or abide by the Geneva convention. THEY DON'T CARE except to kill and use any propaganda to harm freedom. They are religious fanatics with a closed mind. They are trained at birth to hate western ideas and only to serve their interpretation of GOD! It is ISLAM or DEATH. No different from our American Revolution mantra, GIVE ME LIBERTY OR DEATH! OK, the soldiers should have never taken the picture, but the only disaplinary action should be weekend liberty withdrawn or a reprimand. If Obama doesn't pardon these soldiers, he isn't the leader we need in America

    January 20, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. RICH

    Also, soldiers can only respect enemy soldiers that show the same respect. The Taliban is fighting a religious war or their interpretation of religion. They have openly stated to show no respect to western ideas or SOLDIERS. They feel America and their allies are going to hell and that God favors their beleifs ONLY! The only punishment these soldiers deserve is a good a–chewing from their commander. They are young and angry. Ask yourself how you would react to be shot at daily and told you are evil. You think the Taliban isn't doing worse to our brave soldiers? Was your mom or loved one in the towers or on the USS Cole? The arguement that we should be above this would apply if the Taliban was above it. They don't repsect us or the Geneva Convention. Mr. President, PEASE just pardon these soldiers and make them do volunteer work for a day. The only mistake they made was that they got caught.

    January 20, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Eddie

    Do what you must in your mission.But why record it? Need proof of it? Americans should be a cut above that. And all of the posters that keep pushing 9/11, Know your opponent, there is a difference between Taliban& Al-Qaeda. Just lumping all the factions in the Middle East into "terrorists" is a BIG mistake. We csn't afford any more wars, we need to take our financial resorces and fix problems HERE!! Bless our troops though for sure!!

    January 23, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Marc

    I am outraged, because the Taliban go to great lengths to give respect to our lost soldiers bodies they have captured......give me a break.....Remember 9/11 footage in the middle east, everyone jumping and cheering , the liberals deny that happened, because they are misinformed.........

    February 3, 2012 at 12:49 am | Report abuse |
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    Wonderful website. Lots of useful info here. I am sending it to several buddies ans additionally sharing in delicious. And of course, thanks on your effort!

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