I’m on the overnight Coast Starlight train between Portland, OR and LA. I’ll write more about it later. But I awoke to find the Sacramento Bee newspaper under my door. They have been doing an investigative report from Midland, Texas about Army recruiting, because the Midland court was willing to give them all of the Army requests for criminal background checks of potential recruits. The news is disturbing.
Of the 534 former and current Midland residents who applied to serve between January 2003 and July 2007, The Bee found, 150 had histories ranging from theft, traffic or alcohol offenses and failure to appear in court to more serious offenses such as sexual assault. Of those 150, at least 50 entered the military. Others were offered positions but did not enlist.
Among those who enlisted was a man with a history of inpatient treatment for mental illness and others with records of drug possession, assault, theft and illegally carrying weapons. At least 10 had outstanding charges, fines or sentences when they applied for military service.
So the Army made a court background request, found out all the bad stuff The Bee found out, and still let them in. The results were often tragic.
When Private Steven Green applied for the Army in 2005, a court record noted that he owed outstanding fines and “must contact court immediately.” The following year in Iraq, Green drank before going to a house he’d previously visited, where he emerged from a room to tell fellow soldiers, “I just killed them. All are dead,” according to an affidavit from an FBI agent.
Green was discharged from the Army “due to a personality disorder,” the affidavit says. He subsequently was charged by a federal court in Kentucky with murdering and sexually assaulting Abeer Kassem Hamza Al-Janabi and killing her parents and sibling. Two months ago, Green’s attorneys notified prosecutors that they may use insanity as a defense.