The newspaper reported that seven soldiers appear in the photos, and the military has "identified almost all the individuals," according to Christopher Grey, spokesman for the Army's Criminal Investigative Command.
The Los Angeles Times reported that military officials requested them not to print the photos, but that it decided to go ahead in part because the soldier who gave the newspaper "expressed the hope that publication would help ensure that alleged security shortcomings at two U.S. bases in Afghanistan in 2010 were not repeated."
That seemed to suggest that the soldier objected to what his fellow soldiers had done and believed their actions and possibly those of his commanders helped reduce the unit's security. Around the time the photos were taken, two Taliban attacks on two of the brigade's bases killed half a dozen soldiers -- bases that the soldier who provided the photos told the newspaper were not sufficiently protected.
Los Angeles Times Editor Davan Maharaj said that publication "would fulfill our obligation to readers to report vigorously and impartially on all aspects of the American mission in Afghanistan, including the allegation that the images reflect a breakdown in unit discipline that was endangering U.S. troops."
In Brussels, however, Panetta chastised the newspaper, saying its decision could endanger troops serving in Afghanistan.
"This is war and I know that war is ugly and it's violent. And I know that young people sometimes caught up in the moment make some very foolish decisions. I am not excusing… but neither do I want these images to bring further injury to our people or to our relationship with the Afghan people," Panetta said. "We had urged the L.A. Times not to run these photos and the reason for that is those kinds of photos have been used by the enemy to incite violence and lives have been lost as a result of the publication of similar photos in the past. So we regret that they were published."
The same brigade is now back in Afghanistan, although not the entire unit. U.S. officials today suggested that few, if any, of the soldiers in the photos had been redeployed.