The latest issue of Rolling Stone includes the shocking story of how American soldiers allegedly murdered innocent civilians in Afghanistan. One man, Spc. Jeremy Morlock, was sentenced last month to 24 years in prison after pleading guilty in the case. Prosecutors describe the soldiers from the American 5th Stryker Brigade as being members of a so-called "kill team" that targeted unarmed Afghan civilians.
Rolling Stone also published gruesome photos of the soldiers smiling next to corpses.
- Rolling Stone: Kill Team photos (warning: graphic images)
"These were all photographs that were found on the hard drives of soldiers who were deployed to southern Afghanistan," Rolling Stone reporter Mark Boal told Here & Now. "You see several soldiers posing over the body of a young man, who we believe was 15-years-old at the time, that he was killed and the soldiers are sort of hovering around the body the way a hunter would pose with a trophy deer."
Boal, who won an Academy Award for his screenplay, "The Hurt Locker," said the soldiers were bored and angry. Their brigade had taken a high number of casualties, had been in Afghanistan for six months and were frustrated by their efforts to find the Taliban, who were ambushing them.
"At the same time," he said, "there was a very high level of racism in that unit, and the soldiers talked about how they didn't really regard the Afghan people as worth protecting, certainly not worth dying for or worth getting injured, which I think also contributes to the dehumanizing way they looked at the Afghans."
Convicted Soldier Had Troubled Past
Boal said that Spc. Morlock was the kind of bad news kid the Army might have passed on before the need for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Morlock, Boal says, grew up in Alaska, where he got in a lot of trouble, getting drunk, getting into fights and leaving the scene of a serious accident. After he joined the Army, he was charged with disorderly conduct after burning his wife with a cigarette.
"You know I think that's one of the contributing factors to these kinds of war crimes," said Boal. "If you look at the crimes closely enough they usually involve kids who probably should not be given weapons and sent to a foreign country."
So far, only low-ranking soldiers have been charged in connection with the murders allegedly committed by members of the 5th Styker Brigade last year.
And unlike the recent Koran burning in Florida, the publication of the photos of the dead Afghan civilians has not sparked any widespread protests in Afghanistan.
This segment aired on April 13, 2011.