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High School Student Stung Army Recruiters

excerpts from a report by Graham Webster. July 25, 2005

David McSwane had seen the military recruiters around town. He had seen them at the high school. And he knew that with recruitment rates down due to the Iraq war, they were working hard to attract new cadets. And it gave him an idea. So he set up a sting investigation, posing as a high school dropout with a marijuana habit and went down to his local Army recruitment station to enlist.

He taped the telephone conversations, enlisted his sister to pose as a proud sibling so she could photograph parts of the process, and asked a friend to operate a video camera across from a local head shop.

But how did McSwane get an recruiter to visit a head shop with him? Simple. The honor student, pretending to have a ganja habit he couldn't kick, went there to score a detoxifying kit the Army office claimed had helped two previous recruits pass drug tests, according to a taped phone conversation broadcast on local TV. McSwane told his recruiter he didn't know what the detox formula looked like, so the man agreed to go to the store with him.

Aside from his drug problem, McSwane said he had no high school diploma — which at that time was true, as he graduated about two months later — and that he had dropped out of high school. No problem, the recruiters told him. There are Web sites where anyone can order a diploma from a school they make up. "It can be like Faith Hill Baptist School or whatever you choose," one recruiter can be heard saying on one of the taped exchanges.

A Denver TV station picked up the story and ran with it, first airing McSwane's findings on April 28. Within a few days the boy's sting had made national headlines, and the U.S. Army froze recruiting operations nationwide for a day. His two would-be recruiters were suspended.

You have been reading excerpts from "Teen Journo Draws Fire After Army Sting" by Graham Webster. You can read the entire piece here: tinyurl.com/9alqx. Thanks to editorandpublisher.com. We visit often and we hope you will too.

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