Picks of the Week: 'Suspect Soldiers,' Arizona Immigration, Timber in the West
In what will become a regular feature of Post Investigations, our editors have combed through the in-depth and investigative reports from news outlets across the nation and selected three notable projects of the week.
Get the complete list (in no particular order) after the jump.
Drug Use, Criminal Histories Found Among Military Ranks
A yearlong examination by The Sacramento Bee of more than 250 applicants for military service found that the Army, Navy and Marines accepted ex-felons, people with serious drug and alcohol or mental health problems and dozens of others with significant criminal backgrounds or otherwise troubling histories.
The Bee's "Suspect Soldiers" series notes that the risks of employing people with criminal records are well known -- and in a war zone those risks are multiplied. Some of the soldiers profiled, including 16 on the paper's Web site, committed new crimes in Iraq. Others committed crimes on their return.
Arizona Sheriff's Immigration Crack-Down Has Other Impact
A five-part investigative series by the East Valley Tribune in Phoenix looked at the efforts of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to crack down on illegal immigration. The result of the massive effort has been slower response times on emergency calls, a slumping arrest rate and, for a time, excessive overtime costs.
The Tribune also found that the sheriff's "saturation" patrols and "crime suppression/anti-illegal immigration" sweeps in Hispanic neighborhoods are done without any evidence of criminal activity, violating federal regulations intended to prevent racial profiling.
Arpaio, a Republican who refers to himself as "America's toughest sheriff," has directed the 3,000 men and women in the nation's third-largest sheriff's department to arrest undocumented workers.
On Wednesday, a coalition of Hispanic and labor groups in Phoenix accused Arpaio of racial profiling, alleging in a federal lawsuit that his department is violating the civil rights of nonwhite U.S. citizens in seeking to arrest illegal immigrants.
Watchdogs Fail to Monitor Timber Company, Leads to Landslides
With little oversight, the Weyerhaeuser timber company has been allowed to clear-cut unstable slopes in Little Mill Creek and elsewhere in the Upper Chehalis basin in Washington state. When December's storms hit, many of these heavily logged mountains gave way to hundreds of landslides. A Seattle Times investigation found that Weyerhaeuser frequently clear-cut on these unstable slopes, with scant oversight from the state geologists who are supposed to help watchdog the timber industry.
December's storms triggered more than 730 landslides in the Upper Chehalis basin, according to a state aerial survey. Those slides dumped mud and debris into swollen rivers, helping fuel the floods that slammed houses, barns and farm fields downstream, the newspaper reported.
The Times' Hal Bernton and Justin Mayo used information from state aerial surveys, examining 87 of the steepest sites that had been clear-cut. Those sites represented less than 8 percent of the total acreage -- both logged and forested -- in the Upper Chehalis and its tributary drainages, but produced about 30 percent of the landslides.
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