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Debate over graphic photos of soldiers posing with Afghan dead

9:30 PM, Apr 18, 2012   |    comments
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This comes on the heels of video surfacing in January that showed U.S. soldiers urinating on dead Afghans, a February incident in which U.S. troops mistakenly burned Korans, and in March, a U.S. soldier allegedly murdered 17 Afghan civilians.

There are concerns this latest incident will expose U.S. servicemen and women to increased Afghan violence.

"This is going to be in recruiting materials to sway young people, to brainwash individuals to be willing to do anything including committing suicide in the path of killing Americans," Shaul Gabbay, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at the University of Denver, said. "This is as if we are placing in the hands of our enemy a bomb, a weapon that is much more potent, much more devastating in its potential than a weapon, an actual physical weapon, because this can be used to recruit thousands."

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta issued an apology Wednesday for the actions of the soldiers in the photographs.

"This is war and I know that war is ugly and it is violent and I know that young people sometimes caught up in the moment make some very foolish decisions," Panetta said.

While the actions of the U.S. soldiers are being called into question, so is the decision by the Los Angeles Times to publish the images. The comment section of their website contained criticism of the decision and concerns the publication could lead to reprisals against U.S. troops in the region.

"In my 20 years of experience in newsrooms, a lot of discussion went on, especially something that graphic," Shaun Schafer, a journalism professor at Metropolitan State College of Denver, said.

Schafer says while the images are graphic, once the Los Angeles Times determined them to authentic, the paper had an obligation to the public.

"I think one of the things that really had to come into the discussion in the Los Angeles Times, and I hope it did, was the consideration of, you know we probably do need to share these because an important component in truth telling and holding people responsible is actually showing these sort of images," Schafer said.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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