Rep. Smith: 'Disturbing' images undermine U.S. in Afghanistan



SEATTLE - Photos of U.S. troops posing with dead Afghan fighters are "disturbing" and undermine the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, Rep. Adam Smith told KIRO 7 Eyewitness News in a live phone interview Wednesday morning.


Smith, a Democrat from Tacoma, said the photos that were released by the L. A. Times Wednesday morning reflect the ongoing tension between the U.S. presence in Afghanistan and the Afghan people.


WARNING: Unedited photos on the Los Angeles Times' site may be disturbing to some.


"This is one of the biggest reasons we need to accelerate our draw-down," Smith told anchors Julie Francavilla and Jeff Dubois. "It's time for the Afghan people to take over responsibility for their security and their government."


Smith said he was unaware of the photos until the Los Angeles Times published them. The Times said one photo shows members of the 82nd Airborne Division posing in 2010 with Afghan police and the severed legs of a suicide bomber.


The newspaper said the same platoon a few months later went to investigate the remains of three insurgents reported to have accidentally blown themselves up -- and that soldiers again posed and mugged for photographs with the remains.


Smith said the photos put service members at greater risk.


"This will add to the overall argument that, at this point, having a large, foreign military force in Afghanistan can be as destabilizing as it is stabilizing, and we need to accelerate the transition," Smith said.