Soldiers, Marines punished for misconduct
WASHINGTON -- Six Army soldiers and three Marines escaped criminal charges but received administrative punishments for their involvement in two incidents of misconduct in Afghanistan that roiled relations with Afghans, U.S. military officials said yesterday.
The soldiers were disciplined for the mistaken burning of Qurans earlier this year at a U.S. base in Afghanistan, and the Marines were punished for their participation in a video that showed them urinating on the corpses of Taliban insurgents.
Discipline against a Navy sailor in the Quran burnings was dismissed, and the Marine Corps said it will announce disciplinary action against additional Marines in the urination case at a later date.
U.S. military leaders widely condemned the incidents, which were revealed earlier this year. The Quran burning triggered riots in the street and retribution killings, including two U.S. troops who were shot by an Afghan soldier and two U.S. military advisers who were gunned down at their desks at the Interior Ministry.
The exact punishments were not disclosed, and it was not clear whether the lack of criminal charges would trigger any protests in Afghanistan. Administrative punishments could include demotions, extra duty, forfeiture of pay or a letter in their file. They could also stall any future advancement and end their military careers.
The news on the punishments came late at night in Afghanistan. Aimal Faizi, a spokesman for President Hamid Karzai, said Karzai's office would review the decisions and would respond Tuesday.
The Navy said the sailor was found not guilty of any alleged misconduct and that no further disciplinary or administrative action was warranted.
The Qurans and other Islamic books were taken from the Parwan Detention Facility, and officials believed that extremists being detained there were using the texts to exchange messages. The religious books and other materials were put in burn bags and later thrown into a fire pit used to burn garbage at Bagram Air Field, a major U.S. base north of Kabul.
U.S. officials have previously described the incident as not intentional but as a mistake compounded by some bad decisions.