Hundreds of naked pictures of female U.S. Marines were swapped on a Facebook military page. Senior officials at Headquarters Marine Corps have verified the situation and it has prompted an investigation from the Defense Department.
The naked photos were posted on the closed Facebook page titled “Marines United,” which has over 30,000 members including mostly active-duty and retired members of the Marine Corps, Navy corpsmen, and British Royal Marines. Hundreds of photos of more than two dozen women, including active-duty and enlisted service members, were posted on the Facebook page. Many of the women had no idea that they had been photographed. The photos also identified the nude women by their full name, rank, and military duty station. Less than a day after they were posted, the Facebook users who shared the sexually explicit images were deleted and the page was deleted.
The scandal was first uncovered by a nonprofit news organization called The War Horse and then reported by the Center for Investigative Reporting on Saturday. The article in The War Horse was reported by Thomas Brennan, an Iraq and Afghanistan combat veteran and Purple Heart recipient who founded the site. He contacted the Marine Corps on Jan. 30 after discovering the pictures.
After the story was published, several members of the Facebook group made threats against Brennan and his family. One man suggested that Brennan should be waterboarded. Brennan told the Marine Corps Times that users had placed a “bounty” on pictures of his daughter. “It has been suggested that my wife should be raped as a result of this, and people are openly suggesting I should be killed,” he said.
Brennan said he published the story “with the intention of standing up for what is right and staying true to the leadership principle of looking out for Marines and their families.”
From the USA Today:
A 10-page document outlining the allegations included an initial response to the allegations that reads, in part: “The Marine Corps is deeply concerned about allegations regarding the derogatory online comments and sharing of salacious photographs in a closed website. This behavior destroys morale, erodes trust, and degrades the individual. The Marine Corps does not condone this sort of behavior, which undermines our core values.”
“There is no place for this type of demeaning or degrading behavior in our Corps,” Sgt. Maj. Ronald L. Green told CBS News. “Let me be perfectly clear: No person should be treated this way,” he said. “It is inconsistent with our core values, and it impedes our ability to perform our mission.”
“Degrading behavior of this kind is entirely unacceptable. They and the nation deserve better,” said U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
“The success of every Marine, every team, every unit and command throughout our Corps is based on mutual trust and respect,” the Marines’ top general, Commandant Robert Neller, said in a statement. “I expect every Marine to demonstrate the highest integrity and loyalty to fellow Marines at all times, on duty, off-duty and online.”
Maj. Clark Carpenter, a Marine Corps spokesman, confirmed that an investigation is underway.
There are allegedly hundreds of Marines who shared the photos and are said to be stationed at bases across the world. If they are proven to have posted an explicit photo of another person, an enlisted service member could be charged with violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, according to CIR.