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By Friday, the NCIS had identified and interviewed all four of the Marines appearing in the video. At the time, they were filmed urinating on the bodies, the four were members of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, which fought in the southern Afghan province of Helmand for seven months before returning to their home base at Camp Lejeune, N.C., last September.

Two of the four, plus the commander of the battalion, had moved on to other assignments before the video appeared on the Internet, according to Marine Corps officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss an active investigation. The Marines’ names have not been made public.

In its first public statement about the probe, the NCIS said Friday the probe is in its “very early stages.” NCIS communications director Maryann B. Cummings said all four Marines are in the U.S., but she provided no other details about them. She said investigators are looking for information about those who created the video and posted it on the Internet.

The video itself is being studied for clues with the use of NCIS “computer forensic techniques,” she said without elaborating.

The emergence of the Internet video didn’t seem to immediately set back movement toward exploratory negotiations with the Taliban. Asked about possible implications for peace talks, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday that the U.S. remained strongly committed to supporting Afghan efforts.

Panetta, however, said the incident could endanger the talks.

“The danger is that this kind of video can be misused in many ways to undermine what we are trying to do in Afghanistan and the possibility of reconciliation,” Panetta said at Fort Bliss, Texas.

He said it was important for the U.S. to move quickly to “send a clear signal to the world that the U.S. will not tolerate this kind of behavior and that is not what the U.S. is all about.”

Associated Press writers Pauline Jelinek in Washington, Deb Riechmann in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Juan Carlos Llorca in El Paso, Texas, contributed to this report.