2007 February 13 Tuesday
US Army Letting In More With Criminal Records

One of the costs of the Iraq war is a decline in the quality of recruits.

The number of waivers granted to Army recruits with criminal backgrounds has grown about 65 percent in the last three years, increasing to 8,129 in 2006 from 4,918 in 2003, Department of Defense records show.

...

The sharpest increase was in waivers for serious misdemeanors, which make up the bulk of all the Army’s moral waivers. These include aggravated assault, burglary, robbery and vehicular homicide.

Look at it on the bright side: If we are going to lose American soldiers fighting in Iraq I'd rather lose people with criminal records.

More recruits are being let in on medical waivers.

The Defense Department has also expanded its applicant pool by accepting soldiers with criminal backgrounds and medical problems like asthma, high blood pressure and attention deficit disorder, situations that require waivers. Medical waivers have increased 4 percent, totaling 12,313 in 2006. Without waivers, the soldiers would have been barred from service.

Some of those with medical problems can probably serve in domestic positions and free up others to go abroad.

As Steve Sailer points out, the Army places such a high priority on intelligence that they have relaxed IQ standards the least. Better to let in criminals than dummies. Much of the time the criminals will carry out the tasks assigned to them. By contrast, the dummies lack the capacity to learn how to do complex tasks.

Update: A link from Salon brought a fair number of readers, some of whom saw my comments as an opportunity to pose as morally superior to moi. Let me be clear to those individuals: The American government sends troops to Iraq where lots of people want to kill them. As a result, some of them die. As long as the American government sends troops to Iraq some of them will continue to die. Do you really favor sending non-criminals to die in preference to criminals? If so, why?

I happen to think we shouldn't send US soldiers to Iraq. I have argued this position for years now. I do not think our vital national interests are at stake. I also do not think US troops make Iraq a better place. All we are doing is slowing down the civil war and by slowing it down we are increasing the number of Iraqis who will die and we are doing so at considerable expense with deaths and maiming of our own soldiers. It is a bad idea to have US forces in Iraq. It is pointless. It is even counter-productive.

But, again, if we are going to have Americans dying in Iraq I'd rather some of them be criminals than not. How can one argue otherwise? Leave aside standard liberal or neocon moral posing. Just tell me why you would prefer non-criminals to die over criminals.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2007 February 13 10:55 PM  Mideast Iraq Costs


Comments
pentagon said at February 14, 2007 6:45 AM:

apparently supporting the troops now means supporting the deaths of some of the troops who have criminal records. good logic. if this is supporting the troops, i'm not sure they need your support. kinda sounds like you're actually hoping for some of them to die. you're even worse than a moonbat. asshole.

madmatt said at February 14, 2007 6:50 AM:

And you wonder why soldiers are accused of killing and raping civilians?

Ned said at February 14, 2007 7:09 AM:

Ours is composed of the scum of the Earth — the mere scum of the Earth.

* On the British Army Infantry - quotation from Arthur Wellesley, Lord Wellington, on the army he used to defeat the French.


SuperSid said at February 14, 2007 7:09 AM:

So some kid gets busted trying to rip off a car radio when he's seventeen years old. In your view, that kid deserves to get blown up by a roadside IED more than someone who didn't try to rip off a car radio. What a grotesque world you must inhabit. Maybe you should "step back in the box."

Adam said at February 14, 2007 8:13 AM:

"What a grotesque world you must inhabit."

I couldn't have said it better myself. Wow. This post takes the cake, Parker.

jeff said at February 14, 2007 8:31 AM:

"Look at it on the bright side: If we are going to lose American soldiers fighting in Iraq I'd rather lose people with criminal records."
So apparently now the punishment for breaking and entering is death by IED?
The point is that the only way the army is keeping their numbers up is by continuously lowering standards, something they will pay a price for until all these folks separate or retire in 2025. Not that we've found a way to get rid of our less desirable AMERICAN citizens.

Darkwaters said at February 14, 2007 9:10 AM:

If you don't mind, I'd rather psychotics like you stay out of the business of deciding who is and is not a desireable American.

ervington said at February 14, 2007 10:12 AM:

Yes, if people with criminal records are dying in Iraq then ALL your heroes can be criminals...see Bush, Cheney, Libby, Rummy, Abramoff....

I realize by making a wisecrack that I'm merely opening it up for Parker to change the subject by pointing out that the Bush Admin folks aren't actually criminals, or that I"M the one who has messed up morals, or that I"M the one disrespecting troops and am unAmerrikan or that I"M the...insert bloviating response here. I'm with Darkwaters on this one.

RP said at February 14, 2007 10:25 AM:

13 Years ago the Army rejected me because I was on medication for high blood pressure. Now my brother-in-law in the Army is on multiple blood pressure meds and may be deployed soon. My how times and standards have changed.

PSMarc said at February 14, 2007 10:32 AM:

At least you're honest!
Finally a conservative who endorses the murder of our American troops openly! As long as we got ours, let the volunteers and petty criminals die horribly in Iraq for our sake! Look on the bright side, as long as we don't win - those soldiers will NEVER come home. Can you imagine what a petty thief with battle skills and shell-shock could do on the streets of the homeland? Better they endanger the lives of the poor schmucks in Iraq who have to work next to them, and better they all die before that happens!
Look, you may think you just made a thoughtless joke -- but you deserve all the hatred you'll get for that soulless remark!

Bruce said at February 14, 2007 11:01 AM:

No, I think Parker has a point. But it only really makes sense if we make sure the criminals are killed over there. Otherwise, they may come back home and be worse than before. So I'm all for having criminals in the military, as long as they're used as cannon fodder.

Bob Badour said at February 14, 2007 1:13 PM:

What a bunch of ignorant morons... Randall is on record repeatedly recommending complete withdrawal from Iraq on the grounds it squanders American lives while harming American interests.

MnKat said at February 14, 2007 1:17 PM:

Curious, that a wrighty would post something seemingly aimed at lessening support for troops, could it have something to do with the coming war with Iran? The fact that we are not leaveing Iraq as long as a Republican is in the WH? Why conflate our troops with criminals, seems like your taking on the tactics that you claim the left uses. Or maybe it has something to do with this
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/nation/16684548.htm

Carl Gordon said at February 14, 2007 3:19 PM:

So, let me try to digest all of this. Somebody wants to kill radical Muslims. The ever unpopular Army will take felons but not gays. A lot of slack-jawed mouth breathers want to hang reporters. So, how’s everybody managing it? Managing it? More like keeping the saliva-dripping ever nad-snapping jaws of the Great White Pinhead at bay. It’s clear to me now that I have a possible job future as a matador. The admin appears to be delusional and swinging their hands wildly with an exacto knife (remember: don't cut towards yourself).

How do I acquire and Who do I thank for a mantra to the abyss? I got to believe that sometimes George and maybe his fister buddy Cheney, sit in the dark, looking up from the blackest pit of a soulless prison of their own devise, with their only resolve being to find the exit in the corner of the round room. But the “news” always slaps me back like the wet gym towel snap to the ass. I guess one has to have a sense of humor to deal with the absurdity and hopelessness, so much so that what is needed at times like these is to metaphorically light a fart to chase away the dark spooks of despair! I didn't actually do that last night but I had the opportunity for much needed decompression.

What's the worst that could happen? (Don't ask!) I'm too old to get drafted. I probably don't qualify anymore to work at the 7-Up bottling company. They don't have debtor's prison. I managed to lose that crazy bitch that chased after my car. And as far as I know, there's no warrants for my arrest. The shoulder/headache conundrum is bugging the shit out of me, but that's what drugs are for. If they fire me I know I can at least get a job shoveling sand! I take solace in various blogger’s words of encouragement and caring; as the Indians would say: "There is both fire and iron in your words". At least I'm not a guitar player for Celine Dion.

Befuddled by life’s ill-timed, truant, and what I hope is malingering karma, listening to the honeyed, Old Grand Dad soaked strains of Charlie Rich tossing around the idea of who the next bobo will be, as I wipe my weekend-induced, furrowed brow, contemplating yon weekend’s bitter yet persnickety insistence that I not rest easy nor enjoy chemical related abandon. Events are happening at a frightening rate, threatening to spin out of control, just like me. I find myself strangely impelled to hug pillows, chant mantras, and probe for breeches in what has been, up to now, my impenetrable frame of reference that the Diggers gave to me free of charge back in those rather idyllic, stupid, days of yore.

Listen all you hustlers! Don’t give up, send digital transmissions...crypto-brainiacs will download and dump...."What a dump!"...hook pinkies over the hardlines....put a crowbar in that glimmer of insanity you call a mind and pry open that tuna can skull of yours and smile.

The first problem: Like all the misery penciled in and scheduled for Job by demons and gods too punch-drunk on their own pulchritude, I too ponder life’s lousy timing and incredibly bad taste in humor, waiting for the break that ultimately will only transpire, with my luck, at the slacker end of the rope and once again I’ll have to trod up Alfred’s 13 steps (a movie I’ve never been able to sit through) and take my place at my desk, hands folded, singing “Good Morning to You” to some numbskull who represents my first and best argument for forced sterilization, awaiting the inevitable swinging open of the trap door when I get back from lunch. So I sit here, broken hearted, paid my dime and only………..

Second problem (I never seem to have a scarcity of problems): Forces irrational, short-tempered, and zealous in their labors to fling culpability for wars and other damages unto any nearby victim, like yesterday’s pesky booger, are attempting to unseat my customarily erratic and inconsistent mental state. No amount of reality can thwart their Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney paranoid fantasies, so surreptitious strategies and furtive senseless gestures are in order immediately, purposely obfuscating messages in order to confuse small and petty minds. Persevere.

Randall Parker said at February 14, 2007 5:13 PM:

Kids,

You gotta ask your overly self-righteous selves: Should we be in Iraq in the first place? If you think so then you are basically saying that you favor a policy that will get some of our troops killed. Would you rather that those people who get killed be criminals or non-criminals?

I think we should not be in Iraq. I've argued for withdrawal for years. But if we are going to be there I'd rather criminals die rather than non-criminals.

crush41 said at February 14, 2007 6:36 PM:

So some kid gets busted trying to rip off a car radio when he's seventeen years old. In your view, that kid deserves to get blown up by a roadside IED more than someone who didn't try to rip off a car radio. What a grotesque world you must inhabit. Maybe you should "step back in the box."

Uh, if one had to die, which one would you prefer it be? If you're going to pose a rhetorical statement (that really should have been a question), you should be required to answer it. While Randall is far more (effectively) critical of the Bush Administration than any of the Slate drop-ins, he doesn't want good American soldiers dying needlessly. He's argued for withdrawal from Iraq, seeing how hopeless our stated goals there are due to Iraq's widespread consanguinety, poverty, average IQ of 87, tribalism, and Islamism.

I realize that the cascades of flippant posts aren't going to see their creators return to actually take up anything approaching debate with Randall. Easier to just to make ridiculously falacious assumptions ("I realize by making a wisecrack that I'm merely opening it up for Parker to change the subject by pointing out that the Bush Admin folks aren't actually criminals..."), evincing an incredible intellectual laziness, than to actually try and engage an empiricist.

Randall Parker said at February 14, 2007 6:47 PM:

PSMarc, pentagon,

You have serious reading comprehension problems. Go back and read what I wrote, not what you turned it into.

What I want to know: Are you stupid, intellectually lazy, or deceitful? I didn't advocate the death of US soldiers. When I referred to "the bright side" I was referring to a way to look at the shift of the US Army toward having a larger criminal contingent among its soldiers in Iraq. That is what this post is about. I didn't say look at the bright side of soldiers dying.

Really, if you are going to posture as being morally superior at least learn how to read first.

Randall Parker said at February 14, 2007 6:53 PM:

MnKat,

I oppose expanding the war into Iran and have been advocating the US withdraw from Iraq for years.

Conflate our troops with criminals? Again, as the NY Times reports, an increasing fraction (though still small) of our troops are criminals.

Andrew said at February 15, 2007 10:17 AM:

Randall-

Don't try and back away from your comments about looking at the bright side of soldiers dying. I served in the Army, and when I was in, we had thugs and criminals in our ranks. Those individuals did more to undermine unit cohesion than any other factor. Even if you value the life of someone with a criminal record less than a non criminal soldier (which is beyond comprehension. You are probably self described as "pro-life"), having these people in your squad, fire team, platoon, puts others in jeopardy.

So, these thugs and gang-bangers are going to imperil all those good clean honest hardworking patriots that you seem to be so concerned about.

Maybe if you and all your knuckle dragging friends put your money where your mouth is and had the balls to sign up and support the troops by being one, our military wouldn;t have to lower their standards so much.

Hell, we'd have peace in the middle east, and McDonalds in Kabul by now if such fine Americans as you were leading the charge!

3reddogs said at February 15, 2007 11:12 AM:

Although "Andrew" speaks from experience when he says "when I was in, we had thugs and criminals in our ranks. Those individuals did more to undermine unit cohesion than any other factor.", wouldn't pure COMMON SENSE tell you that relaxing the standards for recruits would have an affect on EVERYONE?? Back pedal all you want about what you were really trying to say, my only surprise is that you haven't suggested bringing our troops home and replacing them with our entire prison population. Gee I bet you and your fans would spend hours upon hours discussing what a bright side that would have. Next up, how about we reinstate the draft and everyone with a terminal disease could be drafted and deployed.

Sorry, Mr. Parker, but unlike you, I just can't seem to find a "bright side" to ANYONE dying and even if I could, I sure as hell wouldn't be stupid enough to put it in a blog for all the world to see.

crush41 said at February 15, 2007 4:40 PM:

Wow, they can't spew a sentence without resorting to ad hominen. The ignorant assumptions are the most entertaining (ie, RP will change the subject to defend the Bush Administration, he's stridently pro-life, he's beating the war drums for action against Iran). These accusations are so off-base, so facile, that it shows their makers to be utterly ignorant. How can people who are so unable to understand the dynamics of a debate to be taken seriously?

Of course, no one has actually answered RP's question: If a soldier must die (and being in Iraq guarantees this will continue), would you rather him be a criminal or a non-criminal, ceteris paribus?

I do feel for and sympathize with Adam. Our military personnel are not desparate economic outcasts--they are among our country's best and brightest. Throwing them into the ME to do the dirty work of expanding Shia influence and removing 'radical' Islam's greatest secular antagonist in the region other than Israel, is disgusting. Piling on by sending them new sub-optimal recruits is salt in the wound.

Randall Parker said at February 15, 2007 7:14 PM:

Andrew,

I didn't back away from my comments. Yes, I'd rather that if someone has to die that the person who dies is a criminal rather than a non-criminal.

I'd also rather bring all the troops home and not have any Americans die in Iraq. But if they are going to be there in the first place are you seriously telling me you'd rather have non-criminals die than criminals?

3reddogs,

Again, you have reading comprehension problems. I have certainly suggested (and repeatedly argued for years) that we bring all our troops home.

Yes, I would prefer that criminals die rather than non-criminals. Yes, I place a higher value on people who do not rape, murder, assault, and rob.

So what is your position? Keep the soldiers in Iraq dying for a pointless war? Send no criminals to die there and instead send all non-criminals?

If we have troops in Iraq some will die.

Lawrence Auster said at February 16, 2007 6:54 AM:

While many of the Salon-generated commentators are nasty leftists who give proof to the view that Web discussion forums need to be screened, I must do something I rarely do and disagree with Mr. Parker. I think his way of putting the issue was unfortunate. First, once someone is in the army, you don't want him to die, you don't want any of our soldiers to die, and it's not right to speak of which types of our soldiers you would prefer to die over others. It bespeaks some kind of Darwinian mentality in which "we" stand off to the side, judging who is fit to live and who isn't, who ought to die, and who oughtn't to die. It's not a way that Americans should discuss war.

Second, only a tiny percentage of our troops in Iraq actually are killed in any case, and since the number of criminals in the army is also very small, the actual number of criminals who will be killed as a result of this change in Army recruitment policy is minuscule. So I think the whole issue is irrelevant and could have been avoided.

russellwyllie said at November 24, 2007 2:58 AM:

I HAVE CREATED OVER 70 VIDEOS ON THE U.S./ABUSES/TORTURE/MADMEN IN U.S. UNIFORM KILLING INNOCENT IRAQI FAMILIES, PLUS MORE ON BUSH,CHENEY,RUMSFELD, THE PNAC AND IMPERIALISM.

ALL U.S TROOPS IN IRAQ WERE CRAZY TO JOIN (ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO HAVE SKILLS AND ABILITY TO CHOOSE A DIFFERENT CAREER. MOST YOUNG MEN WANT A GUN AND WANT TO SHOOT IT OFF LIKE IN GOOD OLE-WESTERN MOVIES. IF THEY WEREN'T MAD WHEN THEY JOINED, JUST ONE YEAR IN IRAQ'S 50oC BOILING SUN WILL FRY WHAT LITTLE BRAINS THEY HAVE, AND DEHYDRATE THEM TO BUGGERY.

THEY'LL BE GOING EVEN MORE MAD WHEN THEY FIND THAT FOR THE YEAR COMING THERE WILL BE A LACK OF RESOURCES (FOOD AND WATER) FOR TROOPS, BECAUSE CONGRESS REFUSED TO SIGN THE FUNDING BILL FOR BUSH THE BASTARD SON OF A MANIAC.

Visit WWW.YOUTUBE.COM/POLITICALVIDEOS TO SEE THE TRUTH- BUSH NEEDS TO BE STRUNG UP BY HIS VERY SMALL BALLS.

jamie rightnour said at May 5, 2008 12:00 PM:

fist of all they're not letting in rapist, murders, robbers or people who are on probation or parole. the men and women they are letting in are non violent and non drug abusers. if you can't respect someone risking their life regardless of their backround then your the real criminal. besides what better place to reform someone than the u.s military? what, we should lock them up and throw away the key? because of their criminal record they can't defend our country and our freedom? i'm sure you wouldn't risk your life to go to iraq. you can sit there all safe and sound while a person with a criminal backround is dying so you can sit on your fat safe ass. if you agree with the war or not you should be supporting our troops. don't you think if a person has been in trouble they are probably trying to make right the wrongs they did? and dying for you and me is the biggest sacrifice of all. these "criminals" are enlisting, not getting drafted. they have as much right as anyone to defend us. and to say they should die before a non criminal makes you a sociopath. you should get your facts straight before badgering someone who is more patriotic than your ass could ever be. alot of our soldiers come from poor backrounds where alot of crime comes from. not alot of rich folks are enlisting because they can sit there on their fat rich asses and let the poor defend us. and if you say innocent people are dying over there in the war, such as iraqi citizens. well sorry but that is an occurence in every single war we have had. that is what comes along with war. it's not all peaches and cream people. i agree with lawrence auster who says this shouldn't be an issue at all. soldiers are soldiers, they're defending our country and leave basic training with the same morale. you have no right to say who dies and who doesn't. i can tell you from personal experience that not all people with criminal records are bad people. my husband was in and out of jail in his late teens early twenties. he has not been committed a crime in about 9 years and wants to defend our country. so are you saying that he doesn't have a right to defend us, much less die for us? should he forever be haunted by his criminal past? for crimes he committed because he was young and dumb and homeless. he's volunteered for the relief effort in katrina and at a retirement home, what have you done to help better someone's life? or to help in natural disaster where even our government wouldn't help. have you even taken money out of your pocket and given it to someone in need. should someone with a criminal backround not be allowed to do that? the men and women, like my husband, just want to be accepted back into society. they know they've done wrong. why not let them have a chance to prove that? now i'm not saying every person with a criminal record feel this way, but the army is looking at thier criminal record and you should trust that they wouln't be putting in anyone with rape, robbery or murderer charges into the service. now if you think you are superior to decide who is and who isn't a desirable american than you obviously aren't yourself. support all our troops and quit being so narrow minded and judemental. if you feel that strongly then get off your ass and go fight in the war.

COREY PENNY said at August 9, 2008 2:35 PM:

SO BASICALY WHAT I SEE IS SOME PEOPLE DONT BELIEVE IN A SECOND CHANCE!WHEN YOUR IN THE ARMY THERE ARE NO CRIMINALS OR NONE CRIMINALS,ONLY SOLDIERS....IF WHOM EVER FEELS CRIMINALS JUST NEED DIE NEED TO START WITH THE ONES IN THEIR FAMILY! WOULD YOU WANT YOUR SON OR DAUGHTER TO DIE ON THE LINE CAUSE THEY WAS HIGH FROM A DRUG OR DRUNK AND HIT SOME ONE OR CAUSED DAMAGE TO ONES PROPERTY? THIS IS A "CRIME". LOOK FOR MORE COMMENTS FROM ME...........REALITY CHECK TIME...........

Get Real said at November 11, 2009 6:33 PM:

I saw a piece on PBS a couple of nights ago that featured soldiers from Fort Hood who stated on camera, "I did not want to go to prison. This is better than prison." Beautiful. Here is a better story: While living in L.A. three years ago, the evening news showed a wonderful video of a gang member (yes, there are many gang members in our military) who after serving and learning a bunch of new skills, broke into a gun store and was keeping 8 police officers at bay in the parking lot with classic military suppressive fire and taking out attack lanes from the officers. He took training that cost you and me as tax payers over $400,000 and used that against citizens of the U.S. Yes, let's take the worst in society, give them a second chance with better training so when they get out they can really do some damage.


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