The Sky News headline does not tell the full story; it appears several enlisted men were directed to dispose of the Korans found to have been burned, but they were not given clear orders how to get rid of them. The actual burning was apparently begun by Afghans manning the pit. You have to read far down in the linked story to read this. Emphasis mine.
US officials said several of the soldiers, who have not been publicly identified, are likely to face disciplinary proceedings.
They were not told to burn the books, although it’s unclear how they were supposed to dispose of Muslim texts. ‘There were crossed wires,’ said one official familiar with the investigation. ‘There’s no indication this was a deliberate attempt to defile religious materials.’
Afghan workers at the burn pit spotted several Korans in the flames and ‘started getting riled up’ over the desecration of holy books, another official said. The workers pulled several charred books from the fire and told other Afghans, igniting widespread outrage.
There’s no explanation as to why the Afghans manning the pit did not see the books prior to their beginning to burn. While it states they were not told to burn them, it’s unclear from the report that they were told how to appropriately dispose of them. Meanwhile, powerful Muslim clerics are demanding a public trial, using the threat of more violence as leverage and the Afghan government looks like it may be playing politics.
The military investigation largely supports official US claims that the burnings were inadvertent. The officials said soldiers had confiscated religious materials because they believed the books were being used to pass written messages among prisoners.
The books circulated from prisoner to prisoner as part of the prison’s lending library. The books were initially put in a storage area, but they were removed a few days later after enlisted soldiers were told to dispose of them.
In Kabul, there were signs that any perceived failure to sufficiently punish those responsible could lead to a new round of angry protests. A group of politically powerful Muslim clerics met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and demanded a public trial in an Afghan court for the US troops involved in the incident, Karzai’s office said in a statement.
The clerics denounced the Koran-burning as an ‘inhumane, savage act’ and said no apology would suffice, the presidential palace said. In releasing the clerics’ statement, Karzai appeared to be seeking leverage for his demand that the detention facility at Bagram be handed over to Afghan control.
His office quoted the clerics as demanding ‘the closure of prisons run by foreigners’.
If, as thought, prisoners were using them to pass extremist messages, it’s little wonder the clerics would want to take control of the prisons away from the U.S. Given recent history, were I the soldiers in question, I would not feel positive as regards the current Commander-in-Chief having my back. Here is what seems to have happened: full item at link.
A US army investigation into the burning of Korans in a rubbish pit in Afghanistan found several soldiers misinterpreted an order, officials say.
The investigation found that five US soldiers were responsible for confiscating the Korans and other religious materials from a US-run detention facility near Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul, and dumping them in a pit used to incinerate rubbish.
News of the incident sparked targeted attacks that killed six Americans and violent riots that left more than 30 people dead. Hundreds of foreign military and civilian advisers working at Afghan government offices were withdrawn by embassies and NATO commanders as the crisis mounted.