A year-long-investigation by The Sacramento Bee examines the past criminal histories of soldiers and Marines. The Bee linked 70 military personnel with “questionable backgrounds” who were involved with criminal incidents in the military or back home. The Bee is one of the first news organizations to examine military personnel’s past histories in connection with recent incidents.

A number of those incidents were identified for the first time through military records; even in some well-publicized incidents, The Bee uncovered criminal records not previously made public.

Though dozens of these soldiers would not have qualified for law enforcement jobs in this country, the military sent them to Iraq, where troops often function as police officers.

The New York Times wrote about how the number of waivers the Army granted to new recruits with criminal backgrounds grew by 65 percent in 2007. More recently the Times looked at 121 veterans who committed or are charged with a killing in the War Torn series.

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Lisa Pickoff-White

Lisa is a multimedia producer for California Watch. Before that, she was a print, multimedia and radio reporter in the Bay Area and Washington, D.C. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, National Journal, KALX, Bay Guardian and UPI. She recently graduated from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism with an emphasis in new media.

E-mail: lpickoffwhite@californiawatch.org