Pentagon officials vowed Wednesday that a video posted online that appears to show U.S. Marines in Afghanistan urinating on dead Taliban fighters will be "fully investigated."
The video appeared to surface first on YouTube shortly before midnight Tuesday. It includes a caption indicating that the Marines were members of Scout Sniper Team 4, a Marine Corps unit that has served on the front lines of the war in Afghanistan this year.
The footage, lasting just 39 seconds, shows four Marines in full combat gear urinating on the bodies of three dead men, bearded and dressed in traditional Afghan garb. The Marines can be heard laughing and joking. "Have a great day, buddy," one says.
The desecration of corpses during wartime violates military law and can lead to court-martial.
Capt. Gregory Wolf, a Marine Corps spokesman said in an email that neither the origin nor authenticity of the video had been confirmed. He added that the "actions portrayed are not consistent with our core values and are not indicative of the character of the Marines in our corps."
"This matter will be fully investigated," Wolf said.
The video quickly went viral, appearing on hundreds of websites. On Wednesday afternoon, the Council on American-Islamic Relations released a statement condemning its contents.
"If verified as authentic, the video shows behavior that is totally unbecoming of American military personnel and that could ultimately endanger other soldiers and civilians," said Nihad Awad, the group's national executive director.
The person apparently responsible for posting the video on YouTube, identified as "semperfiLoneVoice" -- a reference to the Marine Corps motto, Semper Fidelis or "always faithful" -- did not respond to an email requesting comment. The person's sentiments were made clear by the video's caption.
"i thought marines were suppose to do the right thing when no one is watching," it says.