The Military’s Moral Blinders: Criminals Preferred to Fill Ranks Over Gays

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i want you us army.jpg
The New York Times ran a lead editorial today suggesting that to keep its ranks full, the US military is digging more deeply into the available American labor pool than it perhaps should and has already issued more than 125,000 “moral waivers” to new enlistees.
The article suggests that in some cases, the military is putting weapons into the hands of serious criminals.
The editorial, in part, reads:

To keep filling the ranks, the Army has had to keep lowering its expectations. Diluting educational, aptitude and medical standards has not been enough. Nor have larger enlistment bonuses plugged the gap. So the Army has found itself recklessly expanding the granting of “moral waivers,” which let people convicted of serious misdemeanors and even some felonies enlist in its ranks.
Last year, such waivers were granted to 8,129 men and women — or more than one out of every 10 new Army recruits. That number is up 65 percent since 2003, the year President Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq. In the last three years, more than 125,000 moral waivers have been granted by America’s four military services.
Most of last year’s Army waivers were for serious misdemeanors, like aggravated assault, robbery, burglary and vehicular homicide. But around 900 — double the number in 2003 — were for felonies. Worse, the Army does no systematic tracking of recruits with waivers once it signs them up, and it does not always pay enough attention to any adjustment problems.
Without adequate monitoring and counseling, handing out guns to people who have already committed crimes poses a danger to the other soldiers they serve with and to the innocent civilians they are supposed to protect.

But the Pentagon is discharging more than 700 people a year who are determined to be homosexuals — who in nearly every case have performed their service honorably on behalf of their country and uniformed service.
But it goes beyond troops on the front line. The military apparently has little problem putting major weapons systems into the hands of criminals while at the same time discharging Arabic-speaking linguists.
Representative Gary Ackerman (D-NY) recently made a colorful comment to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on the disturbing trend of discharging smart, gay language experts. Ackerman actually suggests that the U.S. military seems so fearful of homosexuals that the terrorists might figure this out and recruit “a platoon of lesbians to run us out of Baghdad.”
A report on Ackerman’s comment:

Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-NY) today urged Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to consider hiring military linguists discharged under the federal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual service members. During hearings on the 2008 State Department budget, Ackerman pressed Secretary Rice to address the government’s foreign language deficit by employing discharged lesbian and gay linguists with training in Arabic and Farsi.
“Considering the critical shortage of linguists in the armed forces, a platoon of Arabic-speaking lesbians may be just what the military needs.”
Secretary Rice responded that she “certainly will look at what we are doing right now,” when asked by Ackerman if the proposal was realistic.
“(I)t seems that the military has gone around and fired a whole bunch of people who speak foreign languages — Farsi and Arabic, etc.,” Ackerman said. “For some reason, the military seems more afraid of gay people than they are (of) terrorists, but they’re very brave with the terrorists,” he continued. “If the terrorists ever got hold of this information, they’d get a platoon of lesbians to chase us out of Baghdad,” Ackerman said.
“Considering the critical shortage of linguists in the armed forces, a platoon of Arabic-speaking lesbians may be just what the military needs,” said Sharon Alexander, deputy director of policy for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). “In fact, faced with the shortage of language experts, the military would do well to consider Congressman Ackerman’s point. We cannot afford to lose critical personnel because of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ There are many brave gay men and lesbians who report for duty every day, and their contributions are immeasurably important to our national security.”

Changing the culture of any major institution is difficult — and the Pentagon is an institution strongly hardened in more ways than one — but it should concern military leaders and our political representatives that military culture can so easily adapt to a proliferation of “moral waivers” permitting criminals into the ranks — rather than permitting homosexual men and women to perform military service.
– Steve Clemons
Update:
Freedom to Serve has nice follow up post that links to other good material on this subject.
– Steve Clemons

Comments

51 comments on “The Military’s Moral Blinders: Criminals Preferred to Fill Ranks Over Gays

  1. Jonas Zambon says:

    Hello,
    I am a student on a school in Sweden. I would very much like to use the “I want you”-picture i found on your site. However, since I’m studying web design, my teacher find it very important that I get your permission to use the image. So am asking now, may I? :)
    Jonas

    Reply

  2. tower defense says:

    I know that there is ALWAYS a legal loophole, if you have the money, or the connections, to find the loopholes. I met an attorney in the early seventies who became quite infamous for his ability to find those loopholes. His name was Max Gest, and his office was in Century Towers in Los Angeles. Many of my friends with low lottery numbers used him, and he ALWAYS was able to find cause for a deferment. He even became quite adept at getting people out, even after they had been inducted. But his services were not cheap, and he was definitely beyond the financial means of 80% of the kids facing the draft.

    Reply

  3. stuart ridgeway says:

    PEOPLE MAKE MISTAKES, HOW CAN YOU JUDGE SOMEONE WHEN YOU DONT KNOW THE WHOLE STORY, EVEN IF YOU DO SO WHAT. EVERYBODY DESERVES A SECOND CHANCE.
    SO NOW THAT EX-FELONS ARE GETTING A CHANCE TO
    ACTULLY LEARN UNITY,TEAM WORK & LOYALTY JUST LIKE THE MAN OR WOMAN SERVING NEXT TO HIM ITS A PROBLEM. YES I AGREE DISCHARGING YOU BECAUSE YOUR GAY IS DOWN RIGHT DISGUSTING !!! BUT JUST BECAUSE YOU MADE A MISTAKE IN LIFE,PAYED THE PRICE BY DOING YOUR TIME LIKE YOU SHOULD,AND NOT TO MENTION BEING TREATED LIKE A SECOND CLASS CITIZEN
    BY SOCIETY AND CAN BARELY FIND A DECENT JOB.BUT WANTING TO SERVE YOUR COUNTRY AND TRYING TO GET
    ON THE RIGHT TRACK IN LIFE AND PROVE THAT YOU CAN BE A POSITIVE MEMBER OF SOCIETY,SHOULD NOT BE JUDGED BY A FEW ASSHOLES WHO THINKS A EX-FELON IS
    SOME MONSTER OR A PERSON WHO HAS NO BRAIN OR ANY SELF WORTH & RESPECT,NOT ONLY FOR HIMSELF BUT ANYONE ELSE.ALOT OF YOU JUDGEMENTAL FUCKS ACT LIKE YOUR BETTER,BUT NO MATTER WHAT YOU SAY, THE ONLY DIFFERENCE IS THE EX- FELON GOT CAUGHT & YOU DIDNT. SO REMEMBER, PEOPLE CHANGE AND A MISTAKE THAT SOME YOUNG KID MADE AND PAYED FOR
    DOSENT NEED SOMEONE LIKE YOU BELITTING THEM. BECAUSE IF THATS THE CASE, THEN YOUR SAYING NOBODY
    SHOULD BE ALOUD A SECOND CHANCE IN LIFE, FOR ANY REASON.EX-FELONS ARE HUMAN BEING THAT DO RESPECT THIS COUNTRY AND LAWS. DONT JUDGE ME BY SOME TV
    SHOW FICTIONAL STORY FOR A MISTAKE I MADE 10 -15yrs. ago. i pay taxes,vote and supprt my family
    just like you do. and if it bothers you so much about the army taking felons. get off your ass and join. so unless your there fighting or doing something about it ‘shut the fuck up’ coward !!!
    because all the charges you see of rape,violence
    killing some childs father in front of them. or
    going awol, getting arrested in some bar for fighting or cracking some civilans head open and leaving him for dead in a parking lot isnt done by a ex-convict. im not saying it cant or never has. but the problem isnt letting a ex-felon join
    like i said everybody deserves a fresh start.a new beiging. so judge yourself.your not god!!!

    Reply

  4. pablo caballero says:

    In my opinion, criminals who been convicted as a felon and commited the top four manjor offence; including murder, and several violent sexual assault opun a child offenders should be inducted in a dammed penial legion, as far as i care send them in as cannon fodder to attact other criminals such as terrorist, get them out of cover and implant the felons them with explosive to end this pitiful war. when i mean felon i mean those criminal that will never be released from prison and is an alternative to the death penality.

    Reply

  5. Freddy says:

    This should be stopped immediately. Criminals that currently go to jail learn more aggressive and violent behaviors. The military encourages that of behavior and thus to put extremly simple, people with violent histories are dehumanized. These people then return back to society with ptsd, this does not require you to be a psychologist to see the negative ramifications of this. Sadly to say most citizens do not make an effort to think rationally and that is why we are in this current situation. America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
    Abraham Lincoln

    Reply

  6. Breakinglass says:

    Ah it brings back memories when I was 5 and a 20 year old homosexual molested me and tried to beat me to death with a club…I don’t think sexual preference makes you less likely to be a criminal so get off the gays are great because they are gay propaganda …..America was populated with criminals from other countries starting in the first wave of immigration in the late 1400′s…our armies have had criminals in them all along and becoming a killing machine turns you into a violent person (thats the point of an army) even if you were never a criminal as a civilian….and what about the congress and senate those criminals are sent there by all you fools who send the same guys back there term after term and then wonder why nothing changes….always vote in new people screw the incumbutts, corruption and stupidity may not take hold as much if the those seats are like musical chairs…

    Reply

  7. axiom says:

    they should hire members of the following families, rothschilds,rockefellers,warburgs,carnegies,du ponts,
    they are the real criminals !

    Reply

  8. Jerome Gaskins says:

    POA:
    “Is there some reason, then, why there would be an unusually high number of gay people in the field of linguistics?
    Posted by Wondering
    Oral skills??? (Oops, sorry, just kidding.)”
    ROFLMAO…SROFLMAO…I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!!

    Reply

  9. STS says:

    urbino:
    I agree a draft would be the more decisive & effective strategy to mobilize serious, committed opposition. But I think upper tier Democrats would be (marginally) more willing to propose a tax than a draft and that it would be MORE EMBARASSING to upper tier Republicans to argue that NOT ONLY should their kids not have to serve, BUT ALSO that they should not take a hit to the wallet either.
    In the Civil War, there was the idea of paying for a substitute if you didn’t want to serve. Something along those lines would at least make those not in the line of fire feel *some* kind of pain over the cost of the war.

    Reply

  10. yahaddasayit says:

    P.O.’d, if what I suggested was implemented and what you forecast transpires, I wouldn’t have a problem with it at all. This country should accede to the will of its people and my plan is to effectively confont the general populace into making a decision that if they are wrong they would suffer consequences dear to their being. To me, too many of us are hiding behind our government. If what you say happens, I’d be proud they put their lives on the line for their convictions. They would still be immoral and deserve whatever followed.

    Reply

  11. Pissed Off American says:

    “However, all those families with sons and daughters who couldn’t afford to escape would be out in force on the streets and in polls to an even greater degree than they were in the 60′s”
    Posted by yahaddasayit
    I don’t think so. If the last six years hasn’t got us in the streets, I doubt anything will.

    Reply

  12. yahaddasayit says:

    Well P.O.’d, I covered your valid exception under “immoral” since this society refuses to punish the evildoers. However, all those families with sons and daughters who couldn’t afford to escape would be out in force on the streets and in polls to an even greater degree than they were in the 60′s and where would the smirking chimp and the Demo-Repub congressional enablers be then? Plus, with the internet we just may have a powerful tool to expose the dodgers and their networks.

    Reply

  13. Pissed Off American says:

    The idea that a draft would include the children of the elite is ludicrous. Good God, just look at Bush’s background. He was AWOL, for chrissakes, and daddy pulled all the right strings, and voila, he skates.
    And I know that there is ALWAYS a legal loophole, if you have the money, or the connections, to find the loopholes. I met an attorney in the early seventies who became quite infamous for his ability to find those loopholes. His name was Max Gest, and his office was in Century Towers in Los Angeles. Many of my friends with low lottery numbers used him, and he ALWAYS was able to find cause for a deferment. He even became quite adept at getting people out, even after they had been inducted. But his services were not cheap, and he was definitely beyond the financial means of 80% of the kids facing the draft.
    But the kids that belong to the Cheney’s, and the Clinton’s, and the Edwards’ and the Wolfowitz’s??? Forget it, they’re untouchable. A draft would never succeed in inducting children of their privileged status.

    Reply

  14. yahaddasayit says:

    If this country implemented a no deferment draft, we would be pulling troops out of Iraq before the first flight of draftees graduated from basic training. The all-voluntary(mercenary) force we employ now was the best present this immoral capitalistic nation has ever received. And you can quote me on that.

    Reply

  15. urbino says:

    STS & karenk:
    The war tax has merit, too, but do you really think the wealthy & powerful would be forced to participate any more than they would in a draft?
    What the tax and the draft have in common is: they force the war to be a national effort (the draft more than the tax, I think), and they raise the political cost of starting a war in the first place (in this respect, the tax is perhaps better, since war-starters are most likely to be Republicans).
    A draft would have the added benefit of making sure we have sufficient troops to put in the field. (One thing that drives me crazy about our situation in Iraq is that everybody agrees the 3 options are go big, go long, or go home. Everybody knows the first is the only *military* way to materially affect the facts on the ground, but everybody dismisses it immediately with, “We don’t have the troops.” Well, shit or get off the pot. Either get the troops — i.e., draft them — or get out. But nobody’s got the political guts to do the first, and it looks like that may be true of the latter, too.)
    Anyway, as I was saying, an automatic draft would give us more troops. An automatic tax would help foot the bill. And both would help discourage war.
    I say do both.

    Reply

  16. Mullah Cimoc says:

    Mullah Cimoc say too much jack bauer tv show make ameriki so stupid for hate the muslim, loving the torture, bow down for masters in tel aviv.
    this all rupert murdoch tv show man mind control this way.
    This evil doing for usa media , now control so few company. Benjamin Frankling not like this not free press now in usa amerika.
    for please now google: mighty wurlitzer +cia
    then aemriki people know not free press in usa now. just keep the ameriki so stupid for serve the master in tel aviv.

    Reply

  17. Pissed Off American says:

    Is there some reason, then, why there would be an unusually high number of gay people in the field of linguistics?
    Posted by Wondering
    Oral skills??? (Oops, sorry, just kidding.)
    On a more serious note, I have often opined that I felt the soldiers implicated in the Abu Ghraib abuses were picked for their posts because of physchological profiles that deemed them good candidates for the roles and actions that they were ordered to perform. In such a setting, when soldiers are going to be ordered to act outside of normal moral and legal parameters, it occurs to me that a propensity for criminality may be considered an asset by their superiors.
    I have worked with many young people in combatting substance abuse, and I can tell you that many of the gang-banging youth can correctly be deemed sociopathic, at least in this lay person’s understanding of the term. You look in the eyes of some of these kids, and there is literally “nobody home”. When debated in a purely honest light, it seems there are many positions within the military ranks that are perfectly suited for a sociopath, as long as the superiors of such a deviant can exercise full control over their ward. It doesn’t suprise me in the least that criminals are being accepted to the ranks. I would bet that their documented criminality is closely examined for utility, and they are assigned accordingly. My bet is that a history of the Abu Ghraib abusers would buttress my theory.

    Reply

  18. karenk says:

    Urbino, don’t even say the word “draft”.
    I was one in the minority, even in nyc, against Iraq from day one–didn’t need a draft to convince me. Besides only poor people without the resources to legally or illegally evade the draft, will go to war. It will never personally affect those in power(meaning, their kids won’t go and neither will their friends kids.)
    More importantly, having innocent young Americans drafted and possibly maimed/killed just to make a political statement is certainly not the best way of going about preventing wars. Besides, I have a nearly 17 yr old son who they’d get over my dead body.
    I like the STS idea of a WAR TAX. That’s a real motivator-people hate taxes.
    JohnH wrote “I’m shocked, just shocked that they would let criminals serve in the military.
    I thought criminals were only allowed to take the top jobs. Talk about lowered expectations!”
    GOOD ONE!!!

    Reply

  19. karenk says:

    It’s just another example of how discriminating against gays is somehow still acceptable in our proclaimed pluralistic, tolerant society. A basketball player recently went off saying how he just hates gays and people were defending his right to free speech! Free speech is one thing, but hate speech is another.
    People just love to have a scapegoat.
    Gays in the military are still scapegoated.

    Reply

  20. Wondering says:

    I agree that to discharge gays while simultaneously recruiting felons seems a bizarre approach to military staffing. That bizarre quality appears to be pretty consistent in most of the military decisions of our Decider and his administration.
    But I have a question about the stories about the arabic- and farsi-speaking linguists. In most of what I’ve read, it’s been stated that there are very few such linguists in the first place, yet the stories also imply that there have been a significant number of gay linguists fired.
    Is there some reason, then, why there would be an unusually high number of gay people in the field of linguistics?

    Reply

  21. Chris J says:

    The implication with regard to the dismissing of people with needed skills because of their sexuality is that the military is more fearful of and twisted up about boys that play with boys and girls that play with girls than our enemies killing boys that play with girls and girls that play with boys.
    Whacky man, whacky!

    Reply

  22. Steve Clemons says:

    Thanks for the mostly thoughtful posts on this subject. I particularly appreciated JohnStuart’s comment:
    . . .The best interests of an individual unit and of the nation at large are better served when a non-felon, passed-the-IQ-test, alert gay 11-Bravo is on-point or on night guard duty.
    His point is that the lowest common denominator in any military unit often defines the entire unit. And this is a fundamental problem in the armed services today — particularly with the deployment of and integration into front line duty of less-prepared, less-trained National Guard units who were not part of a system designed for full scale, long term deployments.
    More on this another time,
    Steve Clemons
    http://www.TheWashingtonNote.com

    Reply

  23. blonde says:

    After going to such extremes to enlist people who are then shipped off to spread the beauties of democracy throughout the world, can anyone sane wonder why the american army has proven to be so unefficient and why everyone who has ever had to encounter them seriously has doubts about whether democracy is such a splendid idea after all?
    Or maybe out of serious concern for the wellbeing of those occupied, the army chooses to spare them gay encounters and sends convicted criminals instead?

    Reply

  24. Tony Foresta says:

    Most alarming is factbasedreality that all these soldiers; – gay, criminal, waliant christian warriors, or outstanding candidates are nothing more than pawns and fodder to be misused and abused in the deceptive untoward machinatins of the fascist warmongers and profiteers in the Bush government.
    Complain about this or that constituency all you want, – but the real catastrophic failure in Iraq is the war itself, and the terrible bloody, costly, noendinsight, waste of blood and treasure and excuse for wanton profiteering ongoing that is the critical, and only issue to examine.
    Americans would not need to lower our standards for recruiting were we not “bogged down” or “stuck” in a bloody, costly noendinsight horrorshow, and excuse for wanton profiteering in Iraq.
    Quite obviously America’s socalled hypersuperiority, and the excuse for pillaging the American public of more than half a trillion dollars a year in defense spending, is called into serious question.
    All reasonable, realist, and/or aware Americans should be demanding an accounting, and accountability, and a justification for the ruthless, reckless, unaccounted for waste of blood and treasure in Iraq.
    “Deliver us form evil!”

    Reply

  25. Den Valdron says:

    JohnH wins this round folks.

    Reply

  26. STS says:

    urbino:
    Good thought, but probably unrealistic to expect no exemption from military service for the wealthy and connected. What might actually work would be an automatic WAR TAX — you can’t go to war without starting to pay for it with additional revenue. Granted you might have to supplement that with borrowing given the potentially enormous cost. But sideshow wars like our Occupation of Iraq should be paid for in (near) real time.
    It’s about SHARED SACRIFICE. If you won’t risk taking a bullet, at least have the decency to write a check. The mere threat of taxes should suffice to scare off a lot of the chickenhawks.

    Reply

  27. JohnH says:

    I’m shocked, just shocked that they would let criminals serve in the military.
    I thought criminals were only allowed to take the top jobs. Talk about lowered expectations!
    Now Elliot Abrams could serve in Iraq! Someone hurry up and tell him.

    Reply

  28. urbino says:

    This is yet another reason why Charlie Rangel is right: we need a draft.
    It should be a law (or rather an amendment): no war without a draft. Let’s see how cavalier these jackasses are about getting the nation into wars, then, when the political cost is HUGE.

    Reply

  29. Pissed Off American says:

    Pretty amazing, really. Who remembers Gannon? Here you have a guy, a male prostitute, that is the featured commodity of a pornographic website, masquerading as a Marine while posing naked. And what does this gay entrepreneur get for his industrious nature? Well, a White House press pass, a briefing on classified intelligence, and overnight stays in the White House. All because he has a thirteen inch…uuhm…”journalism credential”.
    Now I ask you, if gays are good enough to service the White House staff, why aren’t they good enough to be in the service?

    Reply

  30. DonS says:

    Oer the last few years I have seen quite a few instances where indviduals, mostly very young, have joined the military to escape some aspect of a criminal conviciton. This really does undermine the image that the govt likes to portray of our wonderfully professional voluntary force, if that image is even intact in all but their minds given the constant lowering or waiving of standards.
    The cases I am familiar with are basically of those charged with offenses or convicted and due for sentencing, who are due in court for trial or sentencing and, through back door dealing with judge, probation officer, etc., avoid a criminal conviction or jail and are whisked off the next day to boot camp. A military recrutier is usually in the picture.
    Virtually all the individuals who fit this pattern that I can remember are not ones I would characterize as good candidates for the military. When we see the cases of anti-social types flipping out in “combat” situations, I wonder just how many are those events aggravated by the lowering of standards, and certainly of taking anti-social types into the military.

    Reply

  31. Pissed Off American says:

    Gads Morrow, I am speechless. Were your parents brother and sister before they were wed?

    Reply

  32. Pissed Off American says:

    Uh oh, sorry for the off topic, but it is time for another “Lying Sack(s) of Shit Alert”.
    Note the wording here on the heading of the lead item on the AIPAC website home page….
    “IAEA: Iran Nearing Nuclear Weapons Production Capability”
    (You just can’t get much more dishonest than that, can you?)
    http://www.aipac.org/

    Reply

  33. Robert Morrow says:

    I really don’t give a hoot about the gay agenda. I support people’s rights to discriminate against gays anytime they want to. I don’t want gay people living next door to me; I would much rather have a Hooter’s waitress next door. I truly don’t want to hang out with almost all of gays. Beyond that so-called “gay” marriage – whatever that is – is a fantasy and a biological impossibility.
    Having said that, it is ok with me if homos serve in the military. I like to live and the US military helps keep me alive. And if a homo wants to take a bullet for America or put a bullet into our enemies, then God Bless them. In addition, as far as I can tell, the military has a lot of homos already, especially all those dykes I see. So what’s the big deal? They are already it – the military is obviously not serious about rooting them out. In fact the US military could not function if it did.
    Also, the penalties for unwanted homo advances need to be severe. A friend of mine is former military and it extremely disturbed him when a homo chaplain hit on him saying “Were you sexually abused as a child?” With the implication being if you were not molested as a child I will be glad to molest you right here and now in the military with me, Rev. Loves a Lot. We definitely don’t need that kind of crap in the military.
    Take it off base, or better yet, don’t do it at all.

    Reply

  34. Terry says:

    The ignorant jackasses running certain parts of this country grow more and more pathetic with each passing minute.

    Reply

  35. fred says:

    I’ve shared this story before, but probably not here.
    A friends stepson joined the Army a couple of years ago. The kid was kinda one of those lost souls who dropped out of high school and for a time lived on the the streets. He experimented a bit with drugs, but I don’t think he did any of the heavy stuff.
    Anyway, somewhere along the way he got his GED and enlisted in the Army and signed up for welding school hoping to learn a viable trade which should keep him away from the front lines. He eventually went to one of the huge Texas bases which is something of a holding pen for the Iraq bound. He and severl other soldiers decided they didn’t want to do the Iraq trip so the bought some quantity of pot and proceed to get pretty high. They also got pretty caught.
    David decided that they were pretty close to Mexico, so he took off across the border. His stepfather, Doug, is a Vietnam veteran and knows exactly how the Army operates so he stayed in touch with David’s first sergeant and was able to track David because he had access to his debit card account along with his cell phone account. David would also call in from time to time and was living on the beach somewhere on the west coast of Mexico where the locals kept him pretty well fed and taken care of.
    One night David got mugged and all of his id, all of his money, and his debit card was stolen. This was after he had been gone a bit over 6 weeks so he decided to head for the border and turn himself in. He wound up somewhere around San Diego (I’m not familiar with the area) and came to the border with no money and absolutely no id. He told the border guard that he was an Army deserter and wanted to turn himself in. Seems that, without hesitation, given all of the border security we have in place, the guard just waved him through.
    David called home and, luckily, has an aunt who lives a couple of hours up the California coast. She drove down, picked him up, and took him to one of the local Marine Corps bases. They didn’t want him because he was Army. Didn’t matter that he had basically deserted several weeks before. The Aunt took him to a recruiting station and eventually got him a bus ticket back to the base in Texas.
    All of the other guys who got busted for smoking pot were booted out long before David got back, but he was put in a holding company where he pretty much resumed normal duties although he was in legal limbo for a couple of months.
    The outcome is that he was allowed to remain in the Army, was given absolutely no punishment, and is now somewhere around Mosul keeping his head low. (we hope)
    If I had not know Doug very well (he is a close co-worker, after all) I would never have believed the out come of this story!
    During the Vietnam Era something such as this would never have been allowed to occur, but these are different times I guess.

    Reply

  36. JohnStuart says:

    Steve,
    The granting of felony waivers brings to mind echoes of a parallel program from my days in the Indochina War.
    Then, as now, the Army could not meet its intake goals – even with the draft. Early in 1966 Secretary McNamara created a special program which would allow the recruiting of 100,000 young men who could not pass the Army Intelligence Test (a singularly low threshold at the time).
    These benighted souls, sometimes called McNamara’s 100,000 sometimes (less kindly) called McNamara’s morons, began to flow into the war theater in considerable numbers by the summer of ’66.
    Many could not read. Many were not numerate at the most basic level.
    Almost all of the 100,000 came to us in the 11-Bravo category – grunts for the infantry – because at their levels of intelligence/schooling/literacy they could not read the manuals to become supply clerks or motor pool guys. At least in those days you could get through basic and AIT (Advanced Infantry Training) without ever reading a word.
    But even 11-Bravos need smarts. One of my McNamara troopers was a kindly soul from the hills of Tennessee who couldn’t read anything, and didn’t seem to understand too much, but who was a really keen-eyed shot with his weapon.
    I had a forward detachment with no organic force protection other than our own guys on guard. About three weeks after this young man joined the detachment we were all blown off our racks in a horrendous night-time explosion. Our Tennessean had been on guard duty at night, pondering the question “what would happen if I shot an M-79 round into that big, black rubber fuel bladder”.
    A worthy question for a thought-experiment, but a very bad idea for an empiricist!
    The young man was truly sorry for flattening our entire detachment (amazingly nobody was killed), but he really couldn’t get his head around the reasons why he shouldn’t be able to let his shooting follow the paths of his imagination.
    I share this story because it is a reminder that much damage can be done by lowering standards to meet recruitment quotas in the military. Everybody depends upon everybody else in a war. The “weakest link in the chain” is everybody’s liability.
    The best interests of an individual unit and of the nation at large are better served when a non-felon, passed-the-IQ-test, alert gay 11-Bravo is on-point or on night guard duty.
    JohnStuart

    Reply

  37. Josh Katz says:

    Marlowe, I think you’re missing the impliciations of Bush’s new policy. While in and of itself enlisting felons is a debateable practice, it is an outrage that they are given preference over homosexuals with clean records, who have already proven their merit through dedicated service. I also hope you understand the difference in circumstance between the war the “Greatest Generation” fought and the one our soldiers are currently fighting.
    One particular reason why we must be particularly selective in the enlistment process is the nature of the “war.” The nature of this engagement requires a diplomatic effort from even the “grunts.” Appealing to hearts and minds is critical in preventing the inflammation of terror, and helping to quell attacks on our troops. The military recognizes this, as counterinsurgency manuals are now standard issue in the Army and Marine corps. Why Bush thinks convicted criminals would make better American ambassadors than skilled, proven, native-language-speaking homosexuals is beyond me.

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  38. Marlowe says:

    Have none of you done any thinking about this article, or its source, or its purpose (to hit Bush)?
    Research these numbers. 125,000 is a BIG NUMBER.
    The New York Times does not tell you that most of the waivers in the Marine Corps are for convictions for smoking marijuana!!!
    Outrageous. People who smoke weed must be shot! They are not real Americans!
    Remember the so-called “Greatest Generation” that fought under the draft. How many of those had priors, do you think?
    It is interesting that liberals, who would normally defend the rights of ex-cons to turn their lives around, are tossing their beliefs out the window in order to hammer Bush.
    “Is there ANYTHING this country is doing right?
    Posted by: MP at February 20, 2007 10:59 AM”
    Just wait. When President Obama is in the White House, all these stories will miraculously vanish. Never to be heard from again.

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  39. semper fubar says:

    I dunno. Makes sense to me- hire a bunch of criminals to man your criminal enterprise. Heck, they won’t have to worry about any silly little “moral objections” to carrying out some loathesome, if not illegal, tasks. “Rape and kill the women and children, sir? Sh*t, I did that at home!”
    Might as well call this whole mess what it is – criminal from top to bottom.
    (And why any self-respecting gay or lesbian person would want to be part of this mess is beyond me anyway.)

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  40. mad_canuck says:

    What do you expect from a criminal administration. Hire criminals for the military so that when the time comes Bush et al will have protection from the tens of thousands of private security people the Bush Regime created with public dollars.
    By the way, terrorists come from various nations with some idealogy driving them, so we do not blame the country we blame the individuals, whereas, the US Bush administration are a public funded terrorist group threatening free nations and terrorizing its citizens if they will now bow to US demands. Who the hell do Americans think they are any way…since when did they become more important then mere citizens of countries that refuse to kiss your butts.

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  41. John says:

    Steve is right. His posts last December pointed to much more than just a royal family feud, though royal intrigue was a big part of the discussion. The title “Prince Bandar Allegedly Advocating Military Response Against Iran” was the real message. Judis provides the other bookend to the story: “Bandar was a driving force behind the surge strategy.”

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  42. Den Valdron says:

    I’d like to take time out to reassure the public that all reports of cannibalism in the British Royal Navy are false. It is a myth that cannibalism is rife in the British navy. Totally nothing to it.
    It seems that the Bush administration has inverted culture. First time it was farce, now its tragedy.
    This is yet another sign of the Bush administration placing ideology above all practical considerations. In that respect, they’re not significantly different from Afghanistan’s Taliban.
    The Taliban believed that the Islamic people had fallen out of favour with God. The various and sundry miseries of foreign domination, economic backwardness, corruption and incompetence were all signs of Gods displeasure. A people favoured by God would not find the world so resolutely devoted to bending them over a table. The solution was religious and moral virtue, to extremes. That way, God gets happy, and he allows the problems to be solved.
    The Bush administration’s religious components undoubtedly think this way. In fact, Bush’s religious supporters have said that very thing on numerous occasions. The more realpolitik of the Bush administration, however, place their fervour not so much on religious as ideological purity. With sufficient ideological purity, the mundane problems of the real world will simply melt away.
    We saw this in Iraq where occupation personnel were chosen based on their views on Roe v. Wade. Ideological purity versus practical competence.
    This thing in the army is simply one of endless examples. In this case, the ideological purity of a homosexual free organization.
    To be fair to Bush, as the war goes steadily into the crapper, I don’t suppose that thinking homosexuals will be any more willing to be cannon chowder than anyone else.
    So of course, there’ll be more criminals and substandards. This seems an inevitable consequence of any protracted war, particularly of one this badly bungled.
    On the bright side, prison will make them familiar with anal rape. Which will certainly acclimate them to the way Bush treats them as soldiers and later as veterans. And it completely ends the discrimination against homosexual practitioners.
    So alls well that ends well, if you’ll pardon the pun.
    Maybe it is farce after all.

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  43. Jerome Gaskins says:

    Using criminals in militaries is a time-honored tradition. Ask Britain what she thinks of it, and she’ll refer to her long history of dominating the seas and maintaining her empire.
    Criminals and the military go together like peanut butter and jelly.

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  44. Steve Clemons says:

    John — did you read my posts on bandar-turki? I was the one to highlight that the real issue animating the tension between the two was the policy difference over engaging or a hard-ish confrontation with Iran. Read the material I posted here again. You seem to dismiss my posts as idol fancy with palace intrigue which was part of the story but not nearly all of it.
    i have huge respect for John Judis and have written frequently about the oil and energy dimensions of these conflicts — and about russia/china/iran axis if we strike iran. Have you read that — ?
    Your post is excellent otherwise but you clearly have not kept up with the material I posted on both these fronts.
    Steve Clemons

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  45. John says:

    John B. Judis posted a fascinating read, called “Crude Joke” on The New Republic website, (available at http://www.iags.org/TNR020707.pdf)
    It’s interesting on at least three levels. First, Judis looks at foreign policy in the context of energy policy, something that Steve, the foreign policy establishment and national security mafia are loathe to do. It’s as if they’ve taken a vow of silence. Fortunately for us, Judis talks.
    Second, it provides new information about the Turki-Bandar rift, initially reported on this blog. Turns out, it was more than just a royal family feud as reported here. Judis reveals that there were serious and substantive policy differences: “While Turki backed the position of the Baker-Hamilton Commission that the United States should negotiate with Iran, Bandar favored an attempt to isolate Saudi Arabia’s rival to the east. And, apparently, that was exactly what he persuaded Bush to do…Bandar was a driving force behind the surge strategy.”
    Third, Judis reveals the administration’s uncanny ability to undermine itself, particularly in foreign affairs. For example, Bush started out courting Putin and then felt the need to intimidate him. In Iraq, Bremer was told to privatize and fragment the industry à la Russia, so that each atomized company, needing to recoup its investment ASAP, would produce flat out, drowning OPEC in a sea of cheap Iraqi oil. But Bremer’s plan, prepared well in advance by Bearing Point, was stymied by the appointment of Phillip Carroll, former CEO of Shell Oil USA, to head the oil ministry. (See Greg Palast, “Armed Madhouse”). The battle for Iraq’s energy spoils rages on today, fought by the insurgency, bureaucrats in the Green Zone, neocons and realists in Washington and by outsiders including Big Oil and Saudi Arabia.
    My own reading of the historical record differs from Judis’. I believe that oil remains at the heart of Middle East policy (along with support for Israel), as it has for generations. Bush took office promising to convince OPEC to “open its spigots.” After 15 years, OPEC was getting its act together again as the 2000 election unfolded. The new administration was determined to return the oil producers to their usual state of disarray. Cheney’s National Energy Report came out in May, 2001, but was deliberately vague about international oil strategies, barely mentioning Iraq. Based on what we know they did (not what they said), the administration appeared to have a well defined top level plan that targeted Russia, Venezuela, and Iraq. One goal seemed to be a massive increase in oil production to restore the buyer’s market of the 1990s and drive prices back into the $20 a barrel range, or less. With its production potential of 10 million barrels per day at a cost of $1 per barrel, Iraq was the real Prize. Control of that spigot would cripple OPEC, or not, depending on how the masters of the spigot ultimately decided to control it. Enter loyalty to Big Oil and to Saudia Arabia, and the plan went awry.
    In the end, the Bush administration’s conflicting loyalties, or perhaps its neuroses, led it to defeat itself, leaving us worse off than where we started.

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  46. steambomb says:

    I dont really concern myself over the gay or not gay issue. What I am adamantly concerned about is what is this doing to the psyche and quality of the military. Especially as to how these individuals might judge “illegal orders”.

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  47. Bucky says:

    I agree that “Changing the culture of any major institution is difficult.” But exactly how is it that bringing hundreds of convicted felons into the military each year doesn’t change their culture? We have seen several cases of US military personnel being tried for the most horrendous of felonies while representing our culture in Iraq.
    It’s cases like this that spell out exactly why the army and Marines need to screen out people who can’t abide by the rules of society. We (and the people of Iraq) have already paid a terrible price for having such antisocial types in our country’s uniform. Lowering the standards yet further is a recipe for disaster.
    .

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  48. Carroll says:

    I have also seen several articles in the LA Times about how “gang” members are joining the military…
    So now the US employs criminals, gang members, private mercs from SA killer squads…and kicks out competent noncriminal gays?
    Something about this adm’s attitude toward gays seems to go right along with the good old Third Reich mentality.
    To say nothing of the danger to regular troops of serving with men whose criminal bent may override their “duty”.
    We need a draft, besides being fair, it might get the college kids to jump start our much needed homeland revoltuion.

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  49. MP says:

    Is there ANYTHING this country is doing right?

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  50. eCAHNomics says:

    As Molly Ivins said: I guess the gays in the military are hiding behind their Foster Grant sunglasses. So add U.S. military to list of places where hypocrisy is not unique, just heavily concentrated. Prior entries in this list include religions and democ(k)racies.

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  51. Military Officer says:

    Steve,
    As an officer in the military I have had several homosexual coworkers. Every single one of them performed at or above their peers, usually leading projects and advance teams. Some were totally in the closet and some everyone knew about and no one cared. These wonderful people were amazing at their job, committed and loyal to the USA and very patriotic. Seeing one friend ripped away from the career he loved for being gay not only destroyed him, but it destroyed a lot of the pride myself and others felt in serving our country. This discrimination should stop so other amazing Americans do not endure the same fate.
    Thank you for the powerful article. It does an excellent job highlighting several absurd areas the army in particular is looking to fill its ranks. Seeing as the Armed Forces have dismissed over 11,000 soldiers for being homosexual, they should really be looking in the mirror for the answer to their numbers problem.

    Reply

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