Rolling Stone Magazine has published graphic images and unseen videos taken by so called "kill teams" in Afghanistan, or what the Army describes as rouge elements of the 5th Stryker Brigade. In one previously unseen video, soldiers are shown gunning down two Afghan men as they ride on their motorcycle along an isolated dirt road. An Army spokesman says the video is not new to investigators -- instead it's one of nearly 4000 files the Army collected while looking into these killings. Army investigators only deemed 130 of the files were deemed questionable by investigators.
"The photos published by Rolling Stone are disturbing and in striking contrast to the standards and values of the United States Army," the Pentagon said in a statement. "Like those published by Der Spiegel, the Army apologizes for the distress these latest photos cause."As for the motorcycle video, it's not connected to any of the current criminal charges. "We don't know if a crime was committed," Army Spokesman Col. Tom Collins told FOX News. In watching the video, taken on a helmet cam, it's unclear whether the Afghan men are armed.
The Rolling Stone article pushes the notion that knowledge of the civilian killings spread well beyond the men from the small unit who allegedly pulled the trigger, and that rather than conducting a secretive mission, these men were operating out in the open. Within days of the first killings, the incidents were "on the radar of Army senior leadership," the Rolling Stone article says.
So far no Army officers have been charged in connection with these crimes, but, the investigation is still ongoing. "I'm not going to speculate where this investigation might go," Collins said. "It's not necessarily static to these 12 individuals."
So far 12 soldiers have been charged. Last Wednesday Cpl. Jeremy Morlock was sentenced to 24 years in prison after he agreed to testify for the prosecution against Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs, the alleged mastermind. Rolling Stone describes him as someone who has been "widely portrayed as a sociopath of Mansonesque proportions."
The Rolling Stone article also accuses the Army of censorship and massive cover-up in attempt to avoid and Abu Gharib-like scandal. The Army admits it was concerned about how the photos could be perceived- that they could be "inflammatory." But, Collins said, "censor" is too strong a word. The photos were sealed as part of the investigation, which is standard operating procedure, Collins said.