Sunday, January 13, 2008

New York Times Blows Military Murders Report

A New York Times report, disputed by the military, indicates that 121 recent Iraq and Afghanistan service veterans and active duty military, from a population of about 300,000, committed a killing or were charged with one in the six-year period beginning with the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

This is a rate of about 8 murders per 100,000 people per year.

According to the New York Times:

Few of the 121 veterans received more than cursory mental health screening at the end of their deployments, the veterans, their lawyers, relatives and prosecutors said. While many showed signs of combat trauma, they were not evaluated for or diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder until after the homicides, according to the interviews.

The report noted that some of the killings did not seem to have any connection to service in Iraq or Afghanistan, and at least 25 were the result of fatal car crashes.

Disputing the New York Times report, Army spokesman Paul Boyce said that Army statistics "show little or no increases in positive drug use, driving under the influence crimes or domestic abuse in the past years among the more than 300,000 soldiers who have deployed in this war."

Wanting to put this exposé in context, I thought I should see if there are comparable statistics available. For comparison, I thought I would pick a California city, for instance, Oakland. Its population is almost 400,000, of which less than 200,000 are males, and of the population of males, many are children or elderly.

So what about killings in Oakland, committed by a population of adolescent through middle-aged males which probably is less than half of the 300,000 that have seen service in Iraq and Afghanistan?

The most recent information I found was that there were 145 murders in Oakland in 2006 alone, which didn’t include fatalities from auto accidents. The Oakland murder rate for 2006 was 36.4 per 100,000, or 4.5 times higher than the military rate.

If females, children, and the elderly are factored out to make it more of an “apples to apples” comparison, the murder rate actually is over 80 per 100,000 per year, or ten times the subject military rate.

How about another California city, such as Richmond, with a population of just over 100,000? From 2001 through 2006 Richmond had 202 murders, or a murder rate of about 33 per 100,000 per year, or over 70 for murder-prone males.

How about the peace-loving Liberal paradise of the world, San Francisco, where about 300,000 adolescent through middle-aged males live?

In just 2005 through 2006, San Francisco had 182 murders. Even if you use the entire population of San Francisco of about 750,000, that still leaves a murder rate for San Francisco of over 12 per 100,000 per year, or over 25 for murder-aged males.

The New York Times found few of the military killers received more than a cursory mental health screening after deployment. Therefore, I suppose the New York Times study is supposed to lead its readers to conclude that the military should and could reduce the murder rate by giving detailed mental health screening at the end of Iraq and Afghanistan deployments.

I wonder if the New York Times would extend that to New York males, whose murder rate per 100,000 New York males per year was over 15, almost double the subject military rate?

Apparently they don’t receive even cursory mental health screening, despite their much higher need for some form of screening or treatment, as evidenced by their high murder rate.

Actually, if I were just comparing murder rates for military veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan deployments with the rates for American cities, I would conclude that the way to dramatically reduce the murder rate for cities is to enlist and deploy their males to Iraq or Afghanistan.

Whatever our cities are doing now obviously is not as effective as the military's program.

1 comment:

Michael Libbrecht said...

I would be interested to see how many of the murders had criminal records that would have barred them from military service. Also whether they had graduated from high school, which would also bar them from joining. What I would like to know is among populations of individuals with an equal level of education and without a criminal record at the age of 18 do members of the military kill more innocent people than their civilian equals.