The Atlantic

The Marine Photo Scandal and the Cost of Indifference

Americans may finally be ready to confront the dehumanizing horrors facing women service members.
Source: Sandy Huffaker / Corbis via Getty

Early this month, news broke on a military website called the War Horse that nude photos of women service members had been posted on a closed Facebook group called Marines United. In the days that followed, the Marine Corps announced that the Naval Criminal Investigation Service was launching an investigation. The Marine Corps leadership addressed the issue in a video and in Capitol Hill testimony. Since then, stories have come out showing that other branches of the military also took part in the photo scandal, and victims have spoken out to tell their own stories.

After word of the scandal broke, I tried and failed to write about it; I was stymied by frustration, irritation, and resignation: Once again, the world was reeling with disgust over the dehumanization of American service members. And this time the wound was entirely self-inflicted.

One of the more grim parts of this story is the reaction I received from Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans when I asked them what they made of the scandal. “To be honest, I am more surprised that anyone is

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