Rick Perry stands by defense of Marines shown urinating on Taliban

In the Republican presidential debate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry used a question on foreign policy to assail the Obama administration’s attitude toward the nation’s military, criticizing the administration’s response to a video showing Marines urinating on Taliban bodies.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta labeled the video, which surfaced last week, “utterly despicable.” Perry, mentioning that comment, said: “Let me tell you what’s utterly despicable: Cutting Danny Pearl’s head off and showing the video of it. Hanging our contractors from bridges, that’s utterly despicable.”

Daniel Pearl was the Wall Street Journal reporter who was beheaded in Pakistan in 2002. The debate was sponsored by the Wall Street Journal, along with Fox and the state GOP. The burned bodies of four U.S. civilian contractors were hung from a bridge in Fallouja, Iraq, in 2004.

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Perry said he believed the Marines’ behavior was inappropriate. “They made a mistake that the military needs to deal with, and they need to be punished,” he said.

But he said Panetta’s comments showed “this administration’s disdain all too often for our men and women in uniform.” He has made similar criticisms on the campaign trail.

In the debate at the convention center in Myrtle Beach, Perry said the administration’s disdain was also shown by its defense cuts, causing reduced troop strength. “I lived through a reduction of force once, and I saw the result of it in the sands of Iran in 1979. Never again,” he said.

Perry served as an Air Force pilot and frequently mentions that his father was a tail-gunner in World War II, flying 35 missions over Nazi Germany. He and Ron Paul, who was also in the Air Force, are the only veterans among the five GOP presidential candidates, and both have tried to make strong appeals to the large number of active and retired military personnel in South Carolina.