Did The Army Miss Warning Signs?

March 21, 2012 by staff 

Did The Army Miss Warning Signs?, The staff sergeant suspected of shooting 16 Afghan civilians, many of them children, had a trail of legal troubles behind him, and his defense team may use those to argue the Army didn’t properly screen him before deployment, experts say.

Yesterday, Gary Liebschner from Carroll, Ohio, told ABC News that Robert Bales was ordered to pay him more than $1 million after an arbitrator ruled that Bales defrauded him the year before he joined the Army. Liebschner says he never received the sum. Bales was Liebschner’s stockbroker, and wasn’t charged criminally in the case.

During recruiting, the Army screens applicants’ criminal history, and occasionally hands out “moral waivers” to applicants who have two or more misdemeanor convictions or one serious conviction so they can still join the force. (Murder and some other crimes cannot be waived.) In 2007, the Boston Globe reported that 12 percent of the Army’s entire recruiting class had criminal records, a reflection of how badly the Army was struggling to meet its recruiting quotas then.

The Army won’t release details of Bales’ 11-year military record, so it’s unclear if his fraud charges showed up in the background search the military did, or whether Bales needed a moral waiver to join the military. The AP reported that he also had a 1998 citation for possessing alcohol on Daytona Beach, and never paid the $65 ticket. That would most likely count as a minor nontraffic violation, which wouldn’t require a waiver.

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