March 10, 2016

The most egregious offense of federal agents, i.e., military recruiters, is that they are recruiting young people who, it can be reasonably predicted, will have a great probability to be ordered to participate in illegal wars and occupations (crimes against peace, and possibly crimes against humanity) and to target civilians and civilian infrastructure (war crimes).

The U.S.-led wars against and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, 2002 to the present, are illegal on their face.  No war was declared as required by the U.S. Constitution.  The United Nations (UN) Charter to which the U.S. is a signatory, allows military action in only two instances: (1) if authorized by the UN Security Council, or (2) if undertaken in self-defense against an existing or imminent armed attack.  Neither of these conditions were met or sought.  Under Article VI, Clause 2, of the U.S. Constitution, the provisions of the UN Charter are incorporated into the Supreme Law of the Land of the United States, and therefore the U.S. violated both the UN Charter, and its own Constitution.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has publicly declared that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was and remains an illegal act that contravenes the UN Charter.[1]

Richard Perle in 2003, when a senior advisor to the Department of Defense Policy Board, admitted that the Iraq war was illegal because the U.S. had broken international law, behavior not consistent with the rules of the UN.[2]

U.S. military judge, Lt. Commander Robert Klant, in May 2005, found Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Pablo Paredes had “reasonable cause to believe that the wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq were illegal.”  He came to this legal conclusion after hearing testimony at Paredes’ trial that: (1) the wars violated the UN Charter, ratified by the U.S., which forbids force unless carried out in self-defense or with the approval of the UN Security Council, neither of which were applicable to or sought by the U.S.; (2) torture and inhumane treatment well documented in Iraqi prisons constitute grave breaches of the Geneva Convention, ratified by the U.S., and are considered war crimes under the U.S. War Crimes Statute; (3) both the UN Charter and Geneva Conventions are part of the Supreme U.S. Law under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution; (4) the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) requires all military personnel to obey lawful orders, that a general order or regulation is lawful unless it is contrary to the Constitution and laws of the U.S.; (5) the Nuremberg Principles, applicable to the U.S. and each of its citizens as part of international law, and the U.S. Army Field Manual, create a duty to disobey unlawful orders; and (6) Article 509 of Army Field Manual 27-10 specifies that “following superior orders” is not a defense to the commission of war crimes unless the accused “did not know and could not reasonably have been expected to know that the act ordered was unlawful.”[3]

We now have the benefit of the seven leaked confidential British Downing Street Memos, dated from March to July 2002, that paint a damning portrait of the U.S. march to war a full year before its March 2003 invasion.  The head of the British Intelligence Service M16 reported in these 2002 memos that “war was now seen as inevitable,” that “intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”  “Regime change” was the policy, but without any justification, and “has no basis under international law.”  The memos also declare: “There is no recent evidence of Iraq complicity with international terrorism…There is no credible evidence to link Iraq with Usama Bin Laden.”  Regarding Iraq’s possession of WMD, the “intelligence is poor.”[4]


Reports of serious recruiter improprieties — including fraud and coercion has surfaced and the Army has been forced to recently investigate 1,118 allegations of impropriety by recruiters, or nearly one in five of all recruiters!  One recruiter was caught encouraging a recruit to create a fake high school diploma to cover for the fact that he had dropped out.  Another recruiter was discovered driving a recruit to a store to purchase a detoxification kit to rid his system of supposed marijuana traces.

Recruiters in Ohio, New York, Washington, Texas and New England said that as long as an offending recruiter met his enlistment quota of roughly two recruits a month, punishment was unlikely.  “The saying here is, ‘Production is power,’ ” the recruiter in northern Ohio said. “Produce, and all is good.”

He said that in the last year, he had seen recruiters falsify documents so that applicants could earn ranks they were not qualified to hold. When enlistees tested positive for marijuana, he said, recruiters coached them to drink gallons of water before visiting military doctors. Occasionally, the recruiter said, he has been ordered to conceal police records and minor medical conditions like attention deficit disorder, which usually disqualifies a candidate. When he and others resisted such orders, he said, superiors threatened to ruin their careers.

The recruiter said one in every three people he had enlisted had a problem that needed concealing, or a waiver. “The only people who want to join the Army now have issues,” he said. “They’re troubled, with health, police or drug problems.”

The recruiter said he believed in the Army and his job, often working 80-hour weeks. But he sometimes worries about the mental capabilities of those who are enlisted, he said, especially as they move up the ranks. “If they are in a leadership position and they’re sending 10 or 11 people all over the place because they can’t focus on the job at hand,” he said, “we’re in trouble.”

One recruiter described that he has been bending or breaking enlistment rules for months, he said, hiding police records and medical histories of potential recruits. His commanders have encouraged such deception, he said, because they know there is no other way to meet the Army’s stiff recruitment quotas. “The problem is that no one wants to join,” the recruiter said. “We have to play fast and loose with the rules just to get by.”

US Army Recruiting Command provides a recruiting handbook to the 7,500 recruiters who are ordered to approach tenth, eleventh and twelfth graders–repeatedly. Army officials spell out the rules of engagement: Recruiters are told to dig in deep at their assigned high schools, to offer their services as assistant football coaches–or basketball coaches or track coaches or wrestling coaches or baseball coaches (interestingly, not softball coaches or volleyball coaches)–to “offer to be a chaperon [sic] or escort for homecoming activities and coronations” (though not thespian ones), to “Deliver donuts and coffee for the faculty once a month,” to participate visibly in Hispanic Heritage and Black History Month activities, to “get involved with local Boy Scout troops” (Girl Scouts aren’t mentioned), to “offer to be a timekeeper at football games,” to “serve as test proctors,” to “eat lunch in the school cafeteria several times each month” and to “always remember secretary’s week with a card or flowers.”

They should befriend student leaders and school staff: “Know your student influencers,” they are told. “Identify these individuals and develop them as COIs” (centers of influence). After all, “some influential students such as the student president or the captain of the football team may not enlist; however, they can and will provide you with referrals who will enlist.” Cast a wide net, recruiters are told. Go for the Jocks, but don’t ignore the Brains. “Encourage college-capable individuals to defer their college until they have served in the Army.”

Army brass urge recruiters to use a “trimester system of senior contacts,” reaching out to high school seniors at three vulnerable points. In the spring, when students’ futures loom largest, the handbook advises: “For some it is clear that college is not an option, at least for now. Let them know that the Army can fulfill their college aspirations later on.”[5]

CONCLUSION: Prohibit Military Recruiting in Public Schools

U.S. military recruiters should be prohibited from public schools. They induce, through historical patterns of misrepresentations while applying various kinds of pressure, the signing of contracts with young people who, it can be reasonably predicted, will have a high probability of being ordered to participate in acts prohibited under international and U.S. Constitutional and statutory law. Thus, military recruiters effectively serve as accomplices to commission of serious lawlessness and criminal activity. Enlistees become indentured servants ordered to behave, in effect, as criminal mercenaries.

Recruiters accrue personal gain in career promotions when meeting superior-mandated recruiting quotas as they induce young people to sign a military contract where the recruits will likely participate in grotesque, prohibited activities. Meeting quotas assures advancement. Not meeting quotas often means demotion. In effect, the recruiter participates in a conspiracy with his/her superiors to meet quotas by often relying on a variety of misrepresentations.

[1] “Iraq war illegal, says Annan,” BBC, Thursday, 16 September, 2004.

[2] The Guardian, “War critics astonished as US hawk admits invasion was illegal,” by Oliver Burkeman and Julian Borger in Washington, November 20, 2003.

[3] “Navy judge paves way for honest conscientious objectors — Government proves recent U.S. wars ‘illegal’ in Paredes decision,“ Idaho Observer, June 2005.

[4] “The Downing Street Reader: a cheat sheet on the memos behind the scandal,” The Rolling Stone Blog, June 22, 2005.

[5] SOURCES identifying selected recruiting violations:

(1) “Army Recruiters Say They Feel Pressure to Bend Rules” By Damien Cave, The New York Times, Tuesday, May 3, 2005;

(2) “When Marine recruiters go way beyond the call” By Susan Paynter,

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Wednesday, June 8, 2005,;

(3) “Military Enlists Marketer to Get Data on Students for Recruiters,” by Mark Mazzetti, The Los Angeles Times, Thursday, June 23, 2005;

(4) “GEDs no longer required,” By Joseph R. Chenelly,, September 20, 2005;

(5) “Army pair’s tactics eyed: Student-led sting ensnarls recruiters,” By John Aguilar, Rocky Mountain News, April 30, 2005,,1299,DRMN_15_3741396,00.html;

(6) “The Recruitment Minefield,” Rethinking Schools Online, Vol.19, No. 3 – Spring 2005,;

(7) “Critical literacy activities can protect students against predatory military recruiting,” by Bill Bigelow. Bigelow is an editor of Rethinking Schools. With Bob Peterson he co-edited Rethinking Globalization: Teaching for Justice in an Unjust World, Spring 2005.

(7) “Let the Pentagon Pay Off Those Loans: LIES Recruiters Tell,” by Ron Jacobs, CounterPunch Weekend Edition, March 5/6, 2005;

(8) “Who’s Next?” by Karen Houppert, The Nation, September 12, 2005,



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