msnbc | April 18, 2012
>>> we begin with breaking news from the u.s. military . army officials are conducting a criminal investigation into newly revealed photos showing troops posing for photos with the body parts of dead afghan suicide bombers . an american soldier says he released those photos first published in the " l.a. times " to call attention to a breakdown in leadership and discipline. now, we cropped this photo that you're seeing here so that it is less offensive to our viewers. the pentagon has released a statement in reference to all of this. the secretary strongly states against this. a lot to talk about this morning. i am joined by nbc's jim miklaszewski standing by at the pentagon as well as msnbc military analyst and retired army colonel jack jacobs here with me in new york. mick, i want to start with you. we're hearing the remarks expressed by the secretary, disappointment coming from leon panetta for the pictures but also for the " l.a. times " in publishing these photos despite the fact the pentagon requested otherwise. now the jeannie is out of the body. how are they reacting?
>> honestly, the first reaction at the pentagon was oh, my goodness, not again, are you kidding me? but they immediately then got into the investigation mode. they know who was responsible, who was involved. they were members of the 82nd airborne division out of ft. bragg who were originally sent to the scene to gather forensics on the bodies of dead taliban who were suicide bombers or others who had blown themselves up trying to plant an ied. and in that photo that you showed a minute ago, you can't show it all, obviously, because it's pretty grim, but those were afghan soldiers that were holding up the severed limbs of one of the suicide bombers . of course the americans were mugging in the background. in another photo, you see them mugging next to a dead body . but these photos were taken about two years ago. apparently they were known to the military for some time. we're hearing from our people in kabul that even the afghan government knew about these photos but there was apparently no rush to release them until the " l.a. times " did. now, in terms of the u.s. military saying that there is concern that the release of these photos could incite some kind of retaliation against american forces , for the american commanders on the ground, they want nothing to happen that could put american troops at further risk. for the people here in the pentagon , there was concern about the release, perhaps more out of embarrassment instead of some kind of inciteful reaction from the afghans, because after all, thomas, if you look at a series of these photos out of afghanistan, there has never been any kind of public reaction on the part of the afghan people to these kind of what would be described in some quarters as war atrocities.
>> jim miklaszewski thanks. i want to ask the colonel now, as you watch all this unfold, and as mik is saying the reaction at the pentagon , my goodness, not again that this is happening, but when you see this happening and the reputation it gives our troops, the perception it gives people not just in this country but around the world, what zuz it say to you and about the fact we're not learning from past mistake, not just from the ten-year war we've been in now but even vietnam and before that if.
>> few people and few governments learn from past mistakes. i remember years ago the current leadership of the military were students at west point and we were talking about -- i was an instructor at the time -- we were talking about how we would never have a conflict again like vietnam, we'd never go someplace with a vague assumption about what we were going to do and poor money and materiel into it. we'd dmoefr it again, and here they are presiding over the same thing. whatever reputation has been besmirched, it has a bigger effect in the united states than it does anywhere else in the world. this is a poorly led unit and i think investigation will demonstrate that.
>> the person who released these photos said they did so to embarrass the leadership.
>> and they've been very successful at doing it. indeed, i read a report that said that the brigade commander of this unit, the 82nd, had already been already either admonished or punished by the chain of command . there will be more to this, but this is clearly a unit where there was insufficient supervision to make sure that everybody acted the way he was supposed to.
>> unfortunately, we'll most likely be reporting on kickback that comes from this. colonel jack jacobs , thanks, mik at the pentagon ,