The military’s murky system keeps no accurate count of conscientious objectors, and likely hides the true extent of disgruntled service-members.
Ever since Major Nidal Hasan killed 13 soldiers at Fort Hood last month, the hunt has been on for a motive, preferably one the Army could have detected and thwarted and still be held harmless.
It’s a long list, ranging from compassion fatigue to religious militancy, ineptitude to insanity, but it is clear that Hasan was desperate to avoid becoming one of the swarm of soldiers about to be sent to Afghanistan. This includes the possibility that he explored applying for conscientious objector, or CO, status, but Army officials counter that they have no record of any such attempt.
Of course they don’t.
No reliable count exists of how many soldiers consider themselves conscientious objectors. The Army recorded 39 applications in 2007, the last year for which records are complete (and represents a five-year low). About half were approved. Nobody, however, believes Army statistics on the issue, probably not even the Army itself.
Chuck Fager, director of Quaker House in Fayetteville, North Carolina, a GI rights organization, has developed a maxim: “There are Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics, And Pentagon Numbers.” Even the U.S. Government Accountability Office threw up its hands when it tried to complete an independent assessment in 2007, before resorting to quoting the Defense Department’s numbers back to it.
[Read more at Alternet]