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. Ana

    Another entry in the multi lists of reasons why "Ugly Americans" are hated and dispised for blatant disregard for other cultures.

    January 12, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • TonyAK

      Ana, I think that we should bring home all of our fine Soldiers and our US dollars and let these cultures that you speak of fend for themselves.

      January 12, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. JK Not Surprised

    What those soldiers did was deplorable. But why are people so surprised? Did you think that this type of action was not occurring? These soldiers were just dumb and got caught. I am sure many other atrocious things have happened that the world will never know about. Unfortunately it is the "military mentality" of many soldiers.

    January 12, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • James M

      Why are people surprised? Because you don't expect to see Marines violating orders (there are standing orders against posting combat videos to YouTube! And this happens *during* Bradley Manning's trial?!) We don't expect to see anyone doing anything this dumb. They are going to come out of this with zero benefits, won't even be eligible for USAA insurance. It will completely suck for them, and they brought this disaster on themselves. Follow orders during your tour of duty. Come home and enjoy what few benefits we give to veterans in this country. Or throw it away, your call.

      January 16, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Abdula Ahmadi

    I wonder how these soldiers commit such actions in a group regardless of cultural barriers and an immoral standards by any accounts. Millions of dollars are spent on them to learn about Afghan culture and values before putting their feet on Afghan soil. I understand their frustration in an unfreindly and extremely hostile environment, what I don't understand is how they decide as a groupe to cross all taboos that even a monkey would not do to his dead enemies leave alone human being. Gandi was right when he said"Men are cruel, but man is kind"

    January 12, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. John_Dunkel

    I hope they make this a feature in Call of Duty. xD

    January 12, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mean Joe Green

    One forgets they are dead. A little pee won't hurt them. Good for the Marines. You pansy democraps, come here and I pee on you, you chicken chits. Stay home and collect your welfare checks and scream foul. Good for nothings

    January 12, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • James M

      The issue here is that they are violating orders. There are strict orders against posting videos from combat zones onto the public internet. No doubt it will be construed that there are standing orders against doing what they did to the corpses, but that is not as serious as posting videos. You may not think there is any intelligence to be gleaned from this video, but it's not up to a couple of E-2's to decide that. And this happens *during* Bradley Manning's trial??? Amazing stupidity, not the urination, but the posting of the video.

      January 16, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. T Metz

    What are the surrounding circumstances here? Does anyone know? Were these Taliban fighters shooting at the marines five minutes before this? I wonder how many people calling such behavior vile have ever stood up as a marine and been shot at by the Taliban. If a Taliban had shot at me or one of my comrades five minutes ago, and my life was in jeopardy, and I happened to kill them first, I might be extremely relieved and I might overreact to my relief from escaping death. So judge not unless you have stood in their shoes.
    God Bless those young men and women that work for our freedom and the freedom of all others!

    January 12, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ken Bynum

    War is dehumanizing, not to mention harmful to children and all living things. Bring our men and women home now. Ron Paul for president.

    January 12, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. NudeTruth

    In other news, Obama arrives from his vacation to continue his 2008 campaign.

    January 12, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. American

    Go Joe Go. Tell them the truth and they will bury their heads farther in the sand.

    January 12, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Lemmy

    I am disappointed about this video. Disappointed that they didn't wait until they had to go number 2.

    January 12, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • rebiii

      It's interesting how CNN cleaned up the comments in the article. Most of what I saw yesterday were comments like yours. It's kind of scary to think who the people are that are living next door to me here in America. I would be surprised to learn that there are any forums in the Arabic-speaking world where people have such foul mouths, and say "Kill them all" etc. all the time.

      January 12, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jeff In Oregon

    The few, the proud!

    Yeh right.

    Funny that you don't see the Marine leadership responding. The whole group is sour, top to bottom.

    January 12, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ana

    I totally agree with Vynn. We are also enemies to the enemy. In this controversy the enemy is dead, what more do the American enemies want? They gave their lives for their country and their deceased bodies deserve respect for that.

    January 12, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Animenut

    In World War II, some marines in the pacific send home Japanese skulls. In Vietnam, some collected ears, and urinating on dead VC and NVA wasn't unheard of. This stuff will always happen in war. We will just hear and see more about it because of cell cameras and the internet. Oddly, war crimes like executing enemy and murdering civilians are far worse, but the outrage is far less. I doubt one tenth of those professing outrage at this incident really is upset
    (Air Force, '65-'69)

    January 12, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Wayne NY -

    Leave the boys alone. They risk their lives for us, for the US, and nobody knows what for any longer. For the most part, these men, and women, volunteered to defend and protect this country ( not the wishful, pie in the sky, dream of bringing democracy and civilization to an area that was never either and never will be). Those 4 Marines, 1/2 of whom have been identified already, vented a little improperly-and whoever posted them on You-Tube w/out blotting out their faces is a lowlife . As far as breeding hate and contempt, or damaging "our revered status" in the world ......gimme a break. Obama is negotiating w/the Taliban now. Might as well stop risking American youth and blood getting blown up, and losing arms,legs,minds for squat. Amazing the press this bladder relief incident is getting as opposed to a little footnote on the ticker " NATO (95% US) forces died today when young Americans get killed while being labeled NATO. What a joke.

    January 12, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • BoredSecurityGaurd.

      well said man....

      January 12, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. MikeinSuwanee

    This is the exact example of why we can't win a war in a place like Afg. We are photoed everything we are asked to do. Washington tries to have a polite war! Pictures like this are blown up and made a example of "How dehumanzing the USA is at war." How we kill everyone and everything. The USA can never win a war like this again. We did before in WW2 and wars before becausr we killed and did what it took to beat a enemy whos sole purpose was to kill us in many ways far worst that pissing on some scumbags.
    When the frontline becomes nightly news or worse 60 minutes on Sunday night, then the NEWS begins to control the war and WASHINGTON begins to fight a war according to how it will look on the news or even worse YOUTUBE. America will never be able to win a war like this. These four Marines served us all and posed for a dumb ass video! If they spend one day in any type confinement will be, in my opinion, a slap to the Marines that fight in that battle that follow. And yeah I spent four for the Corps.

    January 12, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
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