4 Marines in video ID'd; Probe ongoing

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta described video that apparently shows U.S. Marines urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban fighters in Afghanistan as "deplorable" on Thursday.

CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports all four Marines in the video have now been identified, and could face charges after the military completes its investigation into the incident.

As investigators begin the job of determining who is guilty of what crime, the Marines are asking themselves a more basic question: "What made these guys think they could get away with this?"

The four Marines pictured in the video were members of a 1,000-man battalion that recently completed a combat tour in Afghanistan and returned to Camp LeJuene, North Carolina, where they apparently started showing the video around as a war trophy.

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So who else knew about it? Certainly the person who took the video, but were those five Marines by themselves or were others watching? And how many Marines subsequently watched the video?

According to Secretary of State Clinton, they all could be party to a war crime.

"Anyone, anyone found to have participated or know about it, having engaged in such conduct, must be held fully accountable," Clinton said Thursday.

Martin points out that, while you can't judge an entire unit by a few pictures, an officer who commanded troops in Afghanistan says other photos of the battalion in action last summer - showing a Marine sniper without his uniform or body armor - raise questions about the unit's discipline.

The four Marines in the alleged urination video - and presumably the person who shot it - were also members of a sniper team. You can see one of them is holding a sniper rifle.

Snipers make up a small proportion of a battalion - perhaps 30 out of 1,000 men - but their actions have cast a cloud over the entire unit which fought through last summer in the Taliban heartland of Helmand province, and lost seven of its members in action.

To see Martin's full report on the Marine unit under scrutiny, click on the video player above.

  • David Martin

    David Martin is CBS News' National Security Correspondent.

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