Thursday, July 01, 2004

The Pentagon and the recruitment of thugs

An article today in the Los Angeles Times by staff writer Ken Silverstein (founder of Counterpunch) sheds new light on two important issues: 1) how the Pentagon continues to do well with their recruitment, despite the negative publicity of the Iraq war; and 2) why certain U.S. military personnel have been caught up in recent abuse scandals.

The answer?

"The Pentagon was warned repeatedly going back a decade that it was accepting military recruits with criminal histories and was too lenient with those already in uniform who exhibited violent or other troubling behavior. Six studies prepared over 10 years by an outside expert at the Pentagon's request found that too little was being done to discipline lawbreakers in uniform or even identify problem recruits."

The story mentions two cases that stand out:

Cpl. Charles A. Graner Jr., an accused ringleader in the abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib, served in the Gulf War in a Marine reserve unit. He reenlisted in the Army in 2001, joining a reserve unit at a time when allegations of violent behavior had been made against him in two civil court proceedings. His wife alleged in divorce proceedings in 2000 that he beat her, and she obtained three "protection of abuse" orders against him, court records show.

An inmate at a state prison where Graner worked filed a lawsuit against him and other guards in 1999 for allegedly kicking and beating him, according to court records. Graner denied abusing the prisoner. The case was dismissed in 2000 when the man, who by then had been released from prison, failed to appear in court....

David Passaro is accused of beating a detainee in Afghanistan so badly that the man later died. Passaro joined the Army in 1992 and later became a Ranger, after he was fired from the Hartford, Conn., Police Department for allegedly assaulting a man during an off-duty brawl, police and court records show.

At the time of the alleged incident in Afghanistan in 2003, Passaro was working as a civilian contractor for the CIA. The indictment against him charges that he beat an Afghan detainee, Abdul Wali, with his hands, feet and a large flashlight during interrogation June 19 and June 20. Wali died the next day.

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