April 23, 2008
US Army prefers terrorists to queers
The US army is allowing rapists, terrorists and paedophiles to become soldiers while still refusing openly gay people in its ranks, according to alarming new figures released by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
In 2006 the US army issued 8,129 ‘moral waivers’ which allow individuals with criminal backgrounds to qualify for military service. The figures correspond to one in ten new recruits receiving a moral waiver.
The majority of the 2006 waivers were for misdemeanours such as drugs crime, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary and vehicular homicide. Around 900 — double the number in 2003 — were for felonies. Crimes punishable by more than a year in jail are regarded as felonies.
Convicted felons allowed into the army in 2006, according to data provided by the Department of Defense:
• 7 recruits had been convicted of committing rape, sexual assault, criminal sexual assault, incest or other sex crimes
• 3 had been convicted of terrorist threats, including bomb threats
• 3 had been convicted of indecent acts or liberties with a child
• 11 had been convicted of arson
• 142 had been convicted of burglary
The increased use of waivers is part of a trend of lowering standards, as the military tries to fill shortfalls by admitting ex-convicts, substance abusers and high school dropouts, and by relaxing standards for test scores and age and weight restrictions.
“Everyone deserves a second chance,” commented Dr. Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “But the new data show that the same vulnerable populations that are getting channeled into the prison-industrial complex are also high on the list for military recruiters.
“This also begs the question of whether it makes sense for the military to fire perfectly competent gay and lesbian troops while manpower shortages remain so serious.”
The Pentagon discharges more than 700 LGBT soldiers a year under its ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy.
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