Claims of Rampant Drug Use in Unit Accused of Killing Afghan Civilians

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Specialist Jeremy Morlock shown in the leaked video.Photo: ABC News

Yesterday's testimony in the hearing of Specialist Jeremy Morlock further complicates the troubling story of five soldiers accused of killing three Afghan civilians. Testimony described the unit as consumed with drug use. Seven soldiers from the unit were accused of hashish possession. After a possible traumatic brain injury, military doctors prescribed Morlock medication for sleep deprivation and pain and muscle stress. Investigators in Afghanistan looking into the case described Morlock as tired and slouching, but said he seemed coherent with a strong retention of details. The video of their investigation (watch it here), meant merely as case preparation, was leaked to the press yesterday. It shows Morlock, who the Times says "looks like a teenager recounting a story to his parents," talking about his unit's role in the civilian killings, which both he and another accused soldier independently said were at the insistence of their sergeant, Calvin Gibbs.

During another interview by investigators, Corporal Emmitt Quintal said drug use occurred " [on] bad days, stressful days, days that we just needed to escape.”

The soldiers also stand accused of possessing dismembered body parts and collecting photographs of the dead Afghans, in some cases posing with the bodies and holding up the heads. Three were leaked last week, one showing Morlock, who faces either a court martial or death sentence.

During a break in the hearing, Morlock's lawyers told reporters that the case was a reflection of the "failed policy in Afghanistan," and that given the pervasive drug use and medications Morlock was on, his unit should not have been allowed to continue. When the father of one of the soldiers brought these claims to the Army, he was told his son should wait until he got home.

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