Strained by the demands of a long war, the Army and the Marine Corps recruited significantly more felons into their ranks in 2007 than in 2006, including people convicted of armed robbery, arson and burglary, according to data released Monday by a House committee.
The number of waivers issued to active-duty Army recruits with felony convictions jumped to 511 in 2007, from 249 in 2006. Marine recruits with felony convictions rose to 350 from 208.
Over all, the numbers represent less than 1 percent of the 115,000 new enlistments last year in the active-duty Army and Marine Corps.
Coupled with sharp increases in the number of waivers for misdemeanors, the trend raises questions about the military's ability to attract quality recruits at a time when it is trying to increase enlistment. The Army, which has suffered the most war casualties and the longest deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, faces an especially difficult challenge in attracting qualified men and women.
From Sept. 30, 2006, to Sept. 30, 2007, the Army granted so-called conduct waivers for felonies and misdemeanors to 18 percent of its new recruits, an increase of three percentage points from the previous year. So far, in just the first six months of this fiscal year, the Army has granted waivers to 13 percent of its recruits.
The Times is getting their story straight from ultra-liberal Congressman Henry Waxman:
"It raises concerns," said Representative Henry A. Waxman, the California Democrat who is chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which requested the information on felony waivers from the Department of Defense. "An increase in the recruitment of individuals with criminal records is a result of the strains put on the military by the Iraq war and may be undermining our military readiness."
Is it just me, or is the word "felony" strangely prominent in this story - far more than it would be in a more politically correct profile of, say, a federal job training program for troubled teens with criminal records? And would that hypothetical story run a chart breaking down the nature of the felony committed, as the Times does in its chart? (A plurality of felonies are for presumably non-violent drug possession.)
Alvarez has a peculiar fascination with crimes committed by the military; she was coauthor of the paper's slimy, fact-free story in January on veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan and allegedly committing crimes - despite evidence suggesting that the crime rate for returning veterans was either the same as or lower than the same-aged population.