With the guilty plea Wednesday of a Marine who urinated on Taliban corpses in a notorious video made public a year ago, the Marine Corps has now punished five participants in the video. And for the two disciplined publicly at least, that punishment was far more lenient than the judges dispensing it had wanted. Staff Sgt. Edward W. Deptola pleaded guilty Wednesday to desecrating remains, taking trophy photos, and failing to stop other Marines from doing the same. The judge at his court martial, Lt. Col. Nicole Hudspeth, had wanted to sentence him to “six months confinement, a $5,000 fine, demotion to private and a bad-conduct discharge.” But under his plea bargain, Deptola’s punishment of a reduction in one rank to Staff Sergeant had already been carried out before he entered the courtroom.
Last month the other Marine to face a court martial in the case, Staff Sgt. Joseph W. Chamblin, received a sentence of “30 days confinement, 60 days restriction, forfeiture of $500 per month in pay for six months, a fine of $2,000 and a reduction in rank to lance corporal, which is two pay grades below sergeant.” But he had also made a pre-trial agreement, so a general later reduced that sentence to a one-month, $500 pay forfeiture and reduction of one rank. The three others disciplined in the case received administrative punishments that weren’t made public, but which the AP explained at the time “could include demotions, extra duty, forfeiture of pay, or a letter in their file. They could also stall any future advancement and end their military careers.”