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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Filed under: Marines • Military • Overheard on CNN.com
soundoff (235 Responses)
  1. Katie

    I am a OIF Vet. I have had Marines in my Battalion get blown up and killed when I was in Iraq. Unless you have been to war, you have no clue what it can do to you while your still there. I have seen things and heard things just as bad while out there. We do not know if those people killed one of their guys, we do not now if those Marines killed those who are in the video, we do not know if they are insurgents or killed by insurgents. We do not know what happened. We have a video that is put out on the web. By doing this stupid act and showing it to the world, people will look down upon us as Marines and get sick to their stomach. I know myself, it is sick. However, think of this for all you Americans, Think of what they have done to us troops after blowing us up, and capturing our bodies. There is MIA, and KIA. Just think of what is done to American bodies that do not make it home. On the flip side, We as Marines are trained to be the better person and hold our honor high or our Nation. We are not trained to pee on dead bodies and be stupid enough to post it on the web. There is no winning hearts and minds over this video. In the world today from what we have learned over the past couple decades in war, we should be trying to do our job and get ourselves home safe. Stuff like this will only cause more of a riot out there.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      I don't see this as the mentality of *all* Marines, Katie, just *those* particular ones.
      If you've read through these comments; you will see that the majority of people here condone and applaud this action.
      For what it's worth, I do not believe this to be a reflection on the Marinesj only of these individuals.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. banasy©

    It's only fine when they are US soldiers doing it.
    It is not fine when anybody else does it to our soldiers.
    Is that right? Am I reading this correctly?
    Is it ok to p!ss on the Taliban, but not on other dead soldiers?
    Did soldiers of any other wars do this?
    Is this common?
    I just want to understand the rules on p!ssin contests.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jazzy

    Bribery of of nations leaders
    Puppet leaders installed
    Maintaining existing social order / Cointelpro from 1956 – 1971 The ones who set the standards for the FBI, CIA, USA military
    The astrocities that America has carried out not only on foreign soil but that of our own is well doc-u-mented
    How then could we keep being socked and horrified?
    This isn't just happening to 'other' countries. do the research

    January 12, 2012 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy©

    I would think that when the opposition is commiting atrocities against Americican soldiers, (and YES it has happened) there are people in that country who might, just might, be a little outraged themselves and say w t f?

    January 13, 2012 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
  5. Bill

    I think its wrong for anyone to criticize these soldiers in anyway.They take our Soldiers and Citizens and decapitate them on video and post it on Aljazer for their families to see. They blow up crowds of women and children and our Soldiers go there and clean up. Our US Military has the highest morals in the world. The act that was done is a very little thing when we are fighting an enemy that has no morals what so ever. From the time they enlist, from the first day of boot camp they are told kill, kill, kill. Thats exactly what we teach these young men to kill the enemy. Not how to handle what comes after you finished the objective. That is kill the enemy. We teach our soldiers to disengage the moral aspect of killing. that he is the enemy and he must die. The only respect given is that he wants to kill you too. Wake up America, that is war, and the glory is in the kill. Being able to do that makes you Americas' best Service person. Medals are given for that act. Thats why so many come home with built up frustration. We have to give all the help we can or there will be a story like my Dad, who earned his medals in Viet Nam and came home and killed himself. GOD BLESS Our Troops and GOD BLESS America!

    January 13, 2012 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
    • ac

      The soldiers are mere the defenders of a nation's foreign policy. Go back and see who started it, I guess they were not the soldiers that are fighting or have fought.
      And its a war ethic that one soldier should respect a dead enemy soldier. No matter what they did, or or what they think.
      Thinking of Abu Ghraib, even after some 7-8 years the photos haven't been made public, because its such a shame on being a human not let alone a Soldier, and that too American Soldier. Though, you might have guessed, that I'm not an American. You'll argue they did this/that, but again you are no one to judge their actions in comparison to yours. Like in many comments people say in war stuff happens you are stressed, and the enemy too is brutal and do such bad un human things. Now, one is quick enough to say that in war there is stress/psychological stuff happening the point is to not loose the control. Where's the difference ?.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:24 am | Report abuse |
    • DR-NAM-69

      I am a Nam vet serving there from June 69 until January 71. I have no comment one way or another ref the incident discussed. I just want to say I appreciate your father's service and I am so very sorry for your loss.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bentley

      Are you personally familiar with the morality of other country's Armed Forces..........I would not say ours have the highest morals but I think most try to.

      January 14, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. saywhat

    This is what war does to people. Death, Destruction,torture, corruption, depravity – legacy of war. Yet humanity does not learn & we crave for more & the lust grows.
    Iraq, Afghanistan & now Iran?
    While other powers watch & consolidate their geo-political positioning, expand their influence, reap the benefits of our follies without spending a dime or expanding lives.

    January 13, 2012 at 1:38 am | Report abuse |
  7. Phillip Davis

    Don't judge them until you walk in their boots. They stand between us and the men that are laying in the ditch. Those men are just one shot from the same fate, Shame on those that would attempt to prosecute the Soldiers that would lay down their lives for us. America don't turn your backs on us like you did in Viet Nam.

    January 13, 2012 at 1:41 am | Report abuse |
  8. Gird

    We need to remember all that happened at the world trade center where thousands of people had tons of brick and steel and fire and blood spilled over them, not just urine. What these men have seen done and witnessed is horrendous and that they all volunteered to protect our country, we should not forget. Sure it may not be the right thing to do to us but then those of our boys that are dead or in my case have a family member that lost both of his legs know this is just a few who want to fight back in another way...a way that may make them feel better, again right or wrong.

    January 13, 2012 at 2:15 am | Report abuse |
  9. nsaidi

    Thanks for your powerful comments, everyone. I'm going to close this thread for the night in a few minutes, and then we'll reopen it in the morning. Please finish anything you're planning or typing, and see you on the flip side. N

    January 13, 2012 at 2:29 am | Report abuse |
    • nsaidi

      Comments paused. Will resume in the morning.

      January 13, 2012 at 2:38 am | Report abuse |
    • nsaidi

      Good morning. Comments resumed.

      January 13, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  10. bobcat (in a hat)©

    Good morning all. I submitted comment on this subject yesterday and was immediately attacked, I guess for being unamerican.
    Well, if that's the the case, so be it. I stand by what I said. Yes I atrocities happen all the time in war, but to celebrate these atrocities is just wrong.
    If you have not been to war, then you have no right to say what is right or wrong. It's easy to sit behind your keyboards and be self righteous.

    January 13, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  11. just wondering

    You report people are angered over this, according to all the comments I have been reading in the blogs about this subject. Most people are defending these soilders and are honoring them. They are not angry with them they are applauding them. And so Do I. Thank You for serving our country would be more appropriate.

    January 13, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • nsaidi

      Thanks for your comment. I think your observation is correct. Certainly the comments on this post have been mostly in support of the soldiers. At the time when I was reading the stories yesterday, the conversation seemed a bit more even. Since then, I've noticed a change in the discussion. But that in itself is a shift from the initial discussion that brought this video to light. Sometimes there's sort of an ebb and flow in public opinion. I hoped with my post to represent the different sides of the issue as fairly as possible.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. bobcat (in a hat)©

    I guess I really need to make myself clear on this subject.

    I support and respect our warriors 100 %. What I don't support are the INDVIDUALS who do this sort of thing. I don't care whose military it is. Wrong is wrong.

    January 13, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  13. Sandra LeVin

    These marines should be given a medal. A parade for heros. Considering the brutality of this enemy (think Daniel Perl, Nick Berg) I have no problem whatsoever for what they did to the corpses. This is WAR. War is ugly. War is destruction and doing every possible harm to the enemy. These people were already dead. We didn't afford their bodies respect. So what.

    January 13, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. tone alferrado


    January 13, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Anonymous

    OMG! I am sick and tired of all of you bashing the military and US. Do you have any idea what a soldier goes through just so you can sit there and complain. You are all hypocrites and unrealistic and completely ungrateful! They made a bad decision and did something very undignified. It might portray our military in bad light but beyond that it is not a tragedy. They are being killed every day. Why don't you complain or are outraged about that! I just hope they are not severely penalizing for this dishonorable conduct. You have no idea what stress and war does to someone. Focus on the living. Stop vilifying our troops don't forget we are there because of 9/11.

    January 15, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
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