Investigation Confirms Army Taking More and More Recruits with Criminal Histories

News & Politics

It has been rumored for some time that the U.S. Army has had to lower its standards to get enough recruits for its expanded war-fighting needs in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now firm evidence has emerged, and it is not pretty.

For instance: The percentage of Army recruits receiving "moral conduct" waivers jumped from 4.6 percent in 2003 to 11.2 percent in 2007. Many of them in this group have criminal backgrounds, yet are still allowed in the military, to carry a gun and engage in what is essentially "police work" in Iraq.

Not surprisingly, trouble often follows them in the service. Their rate of misconduct, at 6%, is almost twice the average.

In 2007, almost 10,000 recruits were granted waivers for past misdemeanors. Over 2100 for "serious criminal misconduct" -- over four times the 2003 rate -- and almost 1500 for drug or alcohol abuse.

These revelations come in part one of a four-part series starting today in the Sacramento Bee by Russell Carollo, which is also being carried by other McClatchy papers.

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