American officials were quick to condemn the grisly photos of US soldiers posing with the body parts of dead Afghan suicide bombers that surfaced yesterday. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney called the soldiers' behavior "reprehensible," while the US Ambassador to Afghanistan called them "morally repugnant," and defense chiefs promised a full investigation, notes the Los Angeles Times, which printed two of the photos after receiving them from a serviceman concerned about a breakdown in discipline.
Analysts say this incident and other troubling recent cases point to a possible breakdown in leadership at the small-unit level, especially among isolated units, the New York Times finds. Military officials say changing technology also presents new problems. “In this case, these photos are probably a manifestation of the soldiers’ relief that this insurgent no longer posed a threat to them or their fellow soldiers," says an Army spokesman. "That cannot excuse what they did. We are the United States Army and the world rightly has very high expectations that our soldiers will do what’s right. Clearly, that didn’t happen in this case." (Read more Afghanistan stories.)