In a gruesome report in Rolling Stone, screenwriter Mark Boal rips the lid off the U.S. Army soliders currently on trial for murdering civilians in Afghanistan and photographing themselves alongside the corpses. The magazine has published more images of the Army's 3rd Platoon, adding to the photographs released by the German newspaper Der Spiegel last week. (Warning: the photos are extremely graphic.) This is the same batch of photographs the Army appologized for last Sunday calling the actions "repugnant" and "contrary to the standards and values of the United States Army."
The story chronicles soldiers intent on killing innocent civilians for sport and carrying it out with brutal efficiency. It is mainly an attack on the men of the platoon, "which believed they could kill with impunity," and their senior army officials for "repeatedly failing to investigate" and staging what Boal calls a deliberate "cover-up." Boal says contrary to the Army's depiction of the 3rd Platoon as a "rogue unit," the civilian murders were widely known and were even carried out by some outside of the unit. (As it stands, no officers have been charged.) Here are the events Boal describes taken from a review of internal Army records and dozens of interviews with soliders compiled by army investigators.
Civilian killings The first civilian killing was of an unarmed "smooth-faced kid" who the unit threw a grenade at and opened fire on with an M4 carbine and machine gun. After the slaying, the soliders stripped down the boy and photographed themselves holding his hair.. Another incident involved the killing of a man curled up in a ball by the side of the road who the unit suspected of planting an IED. After firing warning shots the man began walking toward the troops and they fired approximately 40 rounds into him. He was unarmed and according to the Army appeared to have been deaf or mentally disabled. Another incident involved the killing of a man in a ditch while other soldiers were touring a village. As with the smooth-faced boy, a grenade was throw and then man was shot several times.
Rampant drug use Boal reports that hashish supplied by Afghan translators was smoked "constantly" with men "getting high in their vehicles, their housing units, even porta-potties." Soliders such as Cpl. Jeremy Morlock used a number of drugs including "opium, hash, Ambien, amitriptyline, flexeril, phenergan, codeine, trazodone."
Bodies as Trophies After the smooth-faced boy was killed, one of the soliders reportedly cut off his pinky finger as a prize. As for the older man by the side of the road, a piece of his skull was kept "as a trophy." The man killed in the ditch had his left pinky severed and staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs removed his tooth and gave it to a fellow soldier.
This morning Rolling Stone executive editor Eric Bates appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe to discuss the article: