Perry: WH handling of Marine video is "over-the-top"

Republican presidential candidate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry waits to be introduced at a campaign stop at the Hilton Head Diner, Jan. 13, 2012, in Hilton Head, S.C. AP Photo/David Goldman

Texas Gov. Rick Perry waits to be introduced at a campaign stop at the Hilton Head Diner, Friday, Jan. 13, 2012, in Hilton Head, S.C.
AP Photo/David Goldman

Texas Gov. and presidential aspirant Rick Perry believes the Obama administration is using "over-the-top rhetoric" and shows "disdain for the military" in its handling of the Marines videotaped urinating on dead fighters in Afghanistan.

Speaking to CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley Sunday, Perry said, "What's really disturbing to me is the over-the-top rhetoric from this administration and their disdain for the military."

"When you're 18 or 19, you do dumb things. These kids made a mistake, there's not any doubt about it," Perry continued. 

He added that those involved in the incident should be "appropriately punished," but that charging the Marines with a criminal act is "over the top." He maintained that the soldiers were following in the tradition of Gen. George Patton, who he said acted similarly in war times.

Republican Sen. John McCain told "CBS This Morning" earlier this week that the video would do "great damage" and called for a complete investigation. He said that U.S. service members found guilty should be punished.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the incident.  "I have seen the footage, and I find the behavior depicted in it utterly deplorable. I condemn it in the strongest possible terms. Those found to have engaged in such conduct will be held accountable to the fullest extent," Panetta said in a statement.

"I don't see them as Marines. I see them as people who have set back the war effort, put their fellow Marines in danger, and who stand in contradiction to pretty much everything the Marine Corps stands for and America stands for," said Tim Kudo, a representative of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and a former Marine captain whose unit served in the same part of Afghanistan as the troops in the video "So, it's very hard to look at them and see them as Marines in that way."

 "Allegations of Marines not doing the right thing in regard to dead Taliban insurgents are very serious and, if proven, represent a failure to adhere to the high standards expected of American military personnel," Marine Corps spokesman, Lt. Col. Stewart Upton said.

In a message to troops in Afghanistan Friday, Army Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti said that "defiling, desecrating, mocking, photographing or filming for personal use insurgent dead constitutes a grave breach" of laws governing armed conflict. In addition such actions go against "basic standards of human decency, and can cause serious damage to relations with the Afghan government." He ordered mandatory training on handling war casualties for NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, the commanding general of Marine Corps Forces Central Command, is leading the investigation of the incident. So far, the four Marines involved in the video have been interviewed by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) but no charges have been filed.

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