By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service
The video shows four Marines apparently urinating over three enemy corpses in Afghanistan.
The secretary's statement said he has seen the footage and finds the behavior depicted in it "utterly deplorable."
"I condemn it in the strongest possible terms," Panetta said. "I have ordered the Marine Corps and ISAF commander [Marine Corps] Gen. John Allen to immediately and fully investigate the incident. This conduct is entirely inappropriate for members of the United States military and does not reflect the standards or values our armed forces are sworn to uphold. Those found to have engaged in such conduct will be held accountable to the fullest extent."
Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said Panetta called Afghan President Hamid Karzai about the video today.
"The secretary expressed his view that the conduct depicted in the footage is utterly deplorable, and that it does not reflect the standards or values American troops are sworn to uphold," Little said. "The secretary also noted in the conversation that he has ordered that the video be immediately and fully investigated."
The International Security Assistance Force also released a statement strongly condemning the actions, which it called "disrespectful, ... inexplicable and not in keeping with the high moral standards we expect of coalition forces."
"This behavior dishonors the sacrifices and core values of every
service member representing the fifty nations of the coalition," the ISAF statement continued.
ISAF officials said a thorough investigation has begun. "Any individuals with confirmed involvement will be held fully accountable," the statement said.
A Marine Corps statement released yesterday said "the actions portrayed are not consistent with our core values and are not indicative of the character of the Marines in our Corps. This matter will be fully investigated."
Leon E. Panetta
NATO International Security Assistance Force