Update 1:08 p.m.: The Defense Secretary added his own statement to the mix. Not surprisingly, he "strongly condemns" the soldiers, and hopes it won't bring harm to other troops in Afghanistan, reports the AP.

Update 10:00 a.m. (EDT): General John Allen and the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan have released statements denouncing the photos. "The actions of the individuals photographed do not represent the policies" of the NATO force "or the U.S. Army," Allen said in a statement picked up by The LA Times' World Now blog.  The blog also picked up Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker's statement

Such actions are morally repugnant, dishonor the sacrifices of hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers and civilians who have served with distinction in Afghanistan, and do not represent the core values of the United States or our military.

This isn't going to help things over there. A soldier has given the Los Angeles Times 18 photos of U.S. soldiers posing with the limbs of Afghan insurgents. Yes, limbs.  The photos are from 2010, and you could argue that they aren't related to the more recent incidents of Koran burning, and the Kandahar shooting spree. But, David Zucchino's account in the Times  of how these soldiers turned posing with body parts into a disgusting meme is ... disturbing. Per Zucchino:

The 82nd Airborne Division soldiers arrived at the police station in Afghanistan's Zabol province in February 2010. They inspected the body parts. Then the mission turned macabre: The paratroopers posed for photos next to Afghan police, grinning while some held — and others squatted beside — the corpse's severed legs.

A few months later, the same platoon was dispatched to investigate the remains of three insurgents who Afghan police said had accidentally blown themselves up. After obtaining a few fingerprints, they posed next to the remains, again grinning and mugging for photographs.

Two soldiers posed holding a dead man's hand with the middle finger raised. A soldier leaned over the bearded corpse while clutching the man's hand. Someone placed an unofficial platoon patch reading "Zombie Hunter" next to other remains and took a picture.

"It is a violation of Army standards to pose with corpses for photographs outside of officially sanctioned purposes," George Wright, an Army spokesman told the Times. An investigation into the photographs and the actions of the soldiers has begun.  The Times adds, "Virtually all of the men depicted in the photos had friends who were killed or wounded by homemade bombs or suicide attacks, according to the soldier who provided the images. One paratrooper on the mission wore a bracelet bearing the name of a fallen comrade."

The photos are pretty graphic, and if you'd like to look, head on over to the Los Angeles Times.

 

Update (10:00 a.m. EDT): General John Allen and the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan have released statements denouncing the photos. "The actions of the individuals photographed do not represent the policies" of the NATO force "or the U.S. Army," Allen said in a statement picked up by The LA Times' World Now blog.  The blog also picked up Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker's statement

Such actions are morally repugnant, dishonor the sacrifices of hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers and civilians who have served with distinction in Afghanistan, and do not represent the core values of the United States or our military.

Update (1:08 p.m. EDT): The Defense Secretary added his own statement to the mix. Not surprisingly, he "strongly condemns" the soldiers, and hopes it won't bring harm to other troops in Afghanistan, reports the AP.

Update (3 p.m. EDT): Poynter points out that the Los Angeles Times actually worked with the Pentagon before the publication of the photos, delaying their release to give the Pentagon to arrange protection for the troops pictured.