New Pictures Of 'Kill Team' Are Published

Rolling Stone magazine has published more pictures taken by U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. They show American troops posing with dead Afghans, among other disturbing images. The photos are connected to ongoing court martial cases of soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

For the second time in a week, the United States Army is apologizing for photos of Afghans killed by American soldiers. Rolling Stone magazine published those photos online. They accompany an article about the so-called kill team, a group of soldiers facing court-martial for allegedly murdering non-combatants.

NPR's Martin Kaste has more.

MARTIN KASTE: The photos were collected by soldiers in Afghanistan. Some show the gruesome results of legitimate combat. Others show murder. Rolling Stone says it published them because they portray a frontline culture in which, quote, "killing civilians is seen as a cause for celebration."

Stjepan Mestrovic is a sociologist at Texas A&M who studies war crimes and the soldiers who commit them.

Professor STJEPAN MESTROVIC (Texas A&M): I know it's hard for your listeners to believe, but they are ordinary - I would say even nice - young men and women.

KASTE: Mestrovic was a defense witness for specialist Jeremy Morlock, a kill team soldier convicted last week on three counts of murder. He's in the photos posing with one of his victims. Mestrovic says he's seen an internal Army report that suggests Morlock and other soldiers in the squad were tacitly encouraged to go beyond the rules of engagement.

Mr. MESTROVIC: The gung-ho attitude came straight from the top. There was a body count board at the brigade headquarters. Everyone in the unit knew that that's how you got promoted.

KASTE: But so far no officers have faced charges. In a statement, the Army says it will, quote, "relentlessly pursue the truth no matter where it leads."

Martin Kaste, NPR News.

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