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. Malcolm Oakes

    Isn't it a bit of irony and hyprocritical for Obama and Panetta to laugh and brag about killing Taliban with Predator strikes,
    then turn on the marines having a bit of payback after a firefight ? I'm totally 100% on the side of the marines. This is being blown completely out of proportion.

    January 12, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack Ciotuszynski

      Totally out of proportion but our government wants to open up conversation with terrorists. When the hell did we decide to start talks with terrorists and did anyone ask the American people if this is what we want.

      January 12, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • James M

      Even without the urination part, posting a video from a combat action can get you sent to the brig for life. It's a direct violation of a very well-understood standing order. Unbelievable that they would post a video *during* Bradley Manning's trial! It's the same crime, just a question of degree. The urination is somewhat irrelevant here.

      January 16, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sharon

    they deserve a medal !!

    January 12, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack Ciotuszynski

      Well put Sharon!

      January 12, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jeff In Oregon

    This organization is a organization of poor quality. Poor/low quality individuals and poor/low quality leadership. I am embarrassed to have them part of our nation and disgusted that I am forced to finance their hate and intolerance.

    January 12, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marshall

      As a former Maine and Vietnam veteran all I can say is Kiss MY ASS.

      January 12, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. vlw

    As a retired Marine, I find this behavior unlikely to be the kind expected of combat Marines, let alone Marines period.

    These idiots need to sent to non-judicial punishment, have some rank taken away, and kept in the Corps so the young Marines will understand how NOT to act.

    January 12, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brad76


      January 12, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |

    am vet from namm era. Where can I get in line to help our guys rinse off tyhe blood and dirt.

    January 12, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. sighs

    A lot of lowlifes join the military. I joined and noticed a lot of recruits just wanted a job, and the government provided. This video makes us look like evil trash. Military training teaches you to act properly and controlled, not like drunk disrespectful trash. You think it would be okay for them to rape the dead bodies, because they are dead and cannot feel? Keep bringing up 911 as an excuse for everything, you uneducated parakeets. Take a little look into recent history and there are many events other nations have endured far worse than 911.

    January 12, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • James M

      If any one of these men was not told, very clearly, that they are under standing orders to NOT post videos from combat on the internet, I will eat a 10 gallon straw hat. And that, not the urination, is the central issue here. They were violating a direct order and they knew it. To do so literally *during* the Bradley Manning trial shows a level of stupidity that I would not think was possible. The urination is irrelevant. Posting a video from combat, whether you think there's any intel to be gleaned from it or not, is totally forbidden, and for good reasons.

      January 16, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Maine Veteran

    Man O man you guys, you screwed up big time by allowing yourselves to be filmed while pissing on those guys. I don't care about the actual event (war is Hell) but why did you have to have someone film it!!?? We're so close to getting out of there and then you allow this to be seen by the world. I feel the real crime is you guys letting that person film you doing that. Bad desicion, guys.

    January 12, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • James M

      You're getting close to the issue, but it's not just "filming it". Posting it to YouTube gets them into the territory of directly violating a specific order. All other considerations fade to insignificance due to that.

      January 16, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kt

    i say pee on boys! do i think its exemplary , NO. But i can tell you watching coffins of american flag drapped coffins of your battle buddies because of the taliban being loaded onto planes to head back to broken hearted families left behind isnt easy to see either..
    Honor shouldnt even be a question in these men and women brave enought to suit up for our freedom , they have more honor then any american still standing in their paved drive ways sipping coffee on their way to work.
    1% of americans are brave enough to get there combat boots full of sand .. 1 %.... Enough said
    I also say shame on america for not bringing attention to all the good that our soldiers do for us , but we sure are quick to hightlight a minor slip up as such ..

    January 12, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. texgirl2762

    Too bad it was just urine. Enough of this kumbaya crap. It's wartime. And as for HIlary Clinton and her "tough talk" concerning the Marines in the photo, she's a traitor and a failure who can go straight to hell.

    January 12, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JP IN MISS

    Good for the a team. Am sure the enemy has done worse to our guys and their owm peop;r.

    January 12, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jimbo

    Over-worked, under paid, PTSD, that is nothing wait to see what else will show up on U-tube.

    January 12, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. AMon

    The Tailban deserve zero respect. Piss on all of them. If you don't like it, then go off to your cave and pound rocks.

    January 12, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JP IN MISS


    January 12, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Frank Rizzo

    Few will hold the Honor of the Title US Marine, that is why we call them The Few, The Proud, The Marines. Honorable US Marines active, retired or former would have never allow this shameful act, were much more better then that, for all Honorable brothers and sisters US Marines I know and respect your commitment to God, Country and The United States Marine Corp I'm proud of you and will always stand with you till the End...

    Former US Marine GySgt Ohh Rahhh

    January 12, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Maj Jackson

    Its pathetic to excuse this in today's era. YES, war is awful and we have to consider the situation that our brave soldiers are in. But as many commentors have stated we are considered to be the most moral country in this world. If we expect to to have other countried follow our lead, then we cannot let these things happen. These actions will destroy our revered status in the world. Strictly from a strategic (if you think its morally acceptable) standpoint, it will breed more hate and contempt for america.

    This is 2011. Everything is viral. We have to lead by example.

    January 12, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
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