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The Southern Poverty Law Center renews its two decade old history of ferreting out racists from the American military with its latest letter to the chairmen of the House and Senate committees on Homeland Security and Armed Services, copied to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Under Secretary of Defense David S.C. Chu.

Alarmed by its (the SPLC) discoveries of dozens of personal profiles on a neo-Nazi website where individuals listed "military" as their occupation, Morris Dees, SPLC founder writes:

In the wake of several high-profile murders by extremists of the radical right, we urge your committees to investigate the threat posed by racial extremists who may be serving in the military to ensure that our armed forces are not inadvertently training future domestic terrorists.

In other words, the biggest danger of terrorism in this country may well be from certain members of the US military in this country.

The SPLC claims to have discovered

40 personal profiles that listed "military" as an occupation on the Internet forum New Saxon, which is operated by the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement. One individual, who claims to be serving in Afghanistan, lists as his favorite book "The Turner Diaries," which was written by neo-Nazi leader William Pierce. The book served as a blueprint for the Oklahoma City bombing by Gulf War veteran Timothy McVeigh.

In recent months.  In recent months.

Another individual posting there bragged about how he was eagerly anticipating "killing all the bloody sand niggers."  Still another posted that he

"hate[s] illegal immigrants with a passion and feel[s] every true red blooded, white American should do whatever it takes to stop the foreign invasion."  Letter

Lest readers jump to the conclusion that the SPLC is spinning conspiracy theories, the FBI released an unclassified report that supported the SPLC's findings in 2008.  Further credence derives from the Republican derided and unclassified Homeland Security Report stating that

right-wing extremists currently pose the most significant threat of domestic terrorism and expressing the concern that they may attempt to exploit the combat training and experience of returning veterans,

for which the SPLC provides specific documented evidence.

The US military has complacently hidden behind a stated policy of zero tolerance without actually enforcing that policy.  In his letter, Dees outlines the efforts made by Defense Secretary Weinberger to respond to the threat in 1986 with a directive saying, in essence, that "participation in white supremacy, neo-Nazi and other such groups" is "utterly incompatible with military service."

Many officers chose to interpret the directive in a way that effectively ignored it, such that they could turn a blind eye to any "incompatible" activity except

egregious forms of hate group activity, not mere membership in such groups or activities like displaying hate group symbols or circulating extremist literature.  Letter

Then, in 1995, neo-Nazi paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division from Ft. Bragg, "gunned down a black couple in a ritualistic, racially motivated slaying."  The officers' conspiracy of self-willed ignorance and the ineffectiveness of Weinberger's directive was revealed.

Following House Armed Services Committee hearings in 1996, then Defense Secretary William Perry "made it clear that the regulations were intended to leave 'no room for racist and extremist activities in the military.'"

Ten years later, with two anti-terrorist foreign wars in full swing and during Donald Rumsfeld's tenure as Defense Secretary, the SPLC returned to plowed ground, reporting in 2006 that

members of neo-Nazi and other extremist groups continued to infiltrate the ranks of the armed forces. We presented specific examples of servicemembers who were allowed to continue serving in the military even after their white supremacist activities were exposed.  Military investigators with whom we spoke attributed the problem to the intense pressure to maintain force levels while the country was at war and to the ambiguity of the existing regulations.

The Pentagon maintained it already had a zero-tolerance policy in place.  Obviously, the incidences of violation of that zero-tolerance policy were widely tolerated.

Again the SPLC doggedly held fast on the issue, issuing another report in December 2007, citing further instances of extremists in the military.  Again, the Pentagon, after petulantly asking for direct evidence to support SPLC clams, which it had already provided in the December report, drew the veil, refusing to root out the extremists.

A year ago this month the FBI issued its own report stating the SPLC claims of dangerous extremists in the US military had worsened.

"Sensitive and reliable source reporting indicates supremacist leaders are encouraging followers who lack documented histories of neo-Nazi activity and overt racist insignia such as tattoos to infiltrate the military as 'ghost skins,' in order to recruit and receive training for the benefit of the extremist movement."

We all know what happened next.  The Department of Homeland Security issued its own report (.pdf) April 7th of this year equating these extremists to domestic terrorists.

(U//LES) The DHS/Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) has no specific information that domestic rightwing terrorists are currently planning acts of violence, but rightwing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emergent issues. The economic downturn and the election of the first African American president present unique drivers for rightwing radicalization and recruitment.


(U//FOUO) DHS/I&A assesses that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat. These skills and knowledge have the potential to boost the capabilities of extremists—including lone wolves or small terrorist cells—to carry out violence. The willingness of a small percentage of military personnel to join extremist groups during the 1990s because they were disgruntled, disillusioned, or suffering from the psychological effects of war is being replicated today.

In closing his letter, Dees notes a bitter irony.

Since 1994, the military has discharged more than 12,500 service members simply because of their homosexuality. It seems quite anomalous that the Pentagon would consider homosexuals more of a threat to good order than neo-Nazis and other white supremacists who reject our Constitution’s most cherished principles.  Letter

 I note that the US military is -- by virtue of tolerating such infiltration -- its own not unbeknownst al-Qaeda in America.  Conservative Republicans are just fine with that.


Note: Neither the SCLC, the FBI, the DHS, nor I characterize the majority of service members as right-wing extremists.  However, their numbers are significant enough to present a clear and present danger; yet the Pentagon continues to (at least) tolerate a nest of vipers in its midst.

Originally posted to Limelite on Sat Jul 11, 2009 at 12:58 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I will never forget (8+ / 0-)

    the first time I heard a Movement Conservative attack the SPLC for its activism as if they are attacking mainstream conservatives when they go after crazies and attacking the military when they try to prevent another Oklahoma City by weeding snakes out of the ranks. They are heroes. Attacking the complacentcy that might allow another Tim McVie is not an attack on the US Army anymore than wishing somebody had gotten to Lee Harvey Oswald is an attack on the US Marines as an institution.

    The military should act swiftly and then give Dees a medal. This activism will help US national security more than the mass tapping of people's phones without a warrant by an intelligence agency ever will.

    I have heard Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, and the usual rogues gallery of talk radio wingnuts take shots at the SPLC as if they had become the new ACLU off and on over the last decade.  

    I just don't get it.

    It was stunning because I didn't see how it benefitted them to attack a group going after extreme Rightwing groups as if such activism was, by unspoken extention, an attack on mainstream conservatism. It's like saying 'they are us' and that's just flat-out stupid.

    They did it again with the government report on domestic extremists. As if going after RAHOWA stooges getting their domestic terrorism training at taxpayers expense is like spitting on Pat Tillman's grave. As if going after the next Tim McVie to prevent another Murrah building was like trying to shut down the New York Post or bar Fox News from basic cable.

    Going after racist criminals and thugs who have gotten inside the military is an act designed to help the US military. It's no different that trying to weed out a spy working for enemies of the US inside the FBI.

    To equate rooting out potential domestic terrorists and removing them from the services for the good of the country to attacking the institutions of the military themselves is an act of suicidal insanity.

    I join you in hoping the Pentagon acts and acts swiftly. It's a vital matter of national security.

    You can't claim solidarity with people if you also want to bomb them

    by LeftHandedMan on Sat Jul 11, 2009 at 01:31:49 PM PDT

    •  It worked with McVeigh (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Limelite, kurt

      Little known was that he tried out for Special Forces by going to the Special Forces Assessment and Selection program and got dx-ed because of his psych-eval results.  At least that was the scuttlebutt going around JFKSWCS at the time.

      But basic recruits don't go through that level of scrutiny, so he already had basic level of training and not hard to pick up manuals at gunshows to make major explosives.

      "First, we take Manhattan! Then we take Berlin!" -Leonard Cohen

      by Jeffersonian Democrat on Sat Jul 11, 2009 at 01:38:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Letter is Directed at 2 Congressional (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LeftHandedMan, kurt

      committees.  Perhaps we'd better hope that THEY get something done following hearings.  I'm afraid the Pentagon has a 20 year history of dragging its heels, even digging them in.

      "Give me but one firm spot to stand, and I will move the earth." -- Archimedes

      by Limelite on Sat Jul 11, 2009 at 02:03:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is nothing new (9+ / 0-)

    but is of heightened concern because of the dynamics of economical problems and our first African American President and the wave of Democratic victories for elected office.

    In 1986, two guys from my company (in the 82nd, A Co. 2/504th PIR, btw) were caught at a klan rally in Greensboro, NC, just by happenstance.  Ironically by an African American major from our battalion who recognized them and was in the area.  They were busted with Article 15 but it also set of a mini-race war in our company for a couple of months.

    Those two did more to disrupt morale and harmony than the two known homosexual paratroopers in our company, two gay men that no one really cared that they were gay.  But boyo, once it was known that two guys were at a klan rally, the tension was extremely high.

    "First, we take Manhattan! Then we take Berlin!" -Leonard Cohen

    by Jeffersonian Democrat on Sat Jul 11, 2009 at 01:33:36 PM PDT

  •  the military is willing to look the other way (4+ / 0-)

    as it gets harder to find recruits, they've lowered their standards to the point where they're taking gang members and members of extremist groups.

    The longer our wars continue, the worse this is going to get.

    "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

    by limpidglass on Sat Jul 11, 2009 at 01:35:43 PM PDT

  •  is this the endgame of the right-wing? (7+ / 0-)

    To reduce the military to a ragtag of racist skinheads and religious fanatics, and at the same time to weaken the prohibitions against deploying the military on American soil? To ensure a ready supply of injured, psychologically damaged vets, unable to find employment and susceptible to extremism?

    Why are they doing this? Is it just the fact that the military is having trouble finding recruits? Or is it because some people want--whether consciously or unconsciously--to cultivate a group of brownshirts here in America?

    "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

    by limpidglass on Sat Jul 11, 2009 at 01:49:04 PM PDT

    •  My Thinking (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alizard, snootless, limpidglass

      I tend to see indications that the right wing conservatives and religious cultists in the Republican Party want to make the US military the 4th branch of government.

      When in power, the Bush Administration's crusade mentality and ambitions were hardly a secret.

      It's not that the military takes anybody; it's that some in the Pentagon, encouraged by 8 years of neo-conservative agenda, have an "off the books" policy of recruiting and retaining extremists to that end.

      "Give me but one firm spot to stand, and I will move the earth." -- Archimedes

      by Limelite on Sat Jul 11, 2009 at 01:54:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  IMO, both. (0+ / 0-)

      I never underestimate the evil of the Bush Crime Family and its Rethug associates.

      Children in the U.S... detained [against] intl. & domestic standards." --Amnesty Internati

      by doinaheckuvanutjob on Sat Jul 11, 2009 at 03:01:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  No, this is the hysterical babbling (0+ / 0-)

      of the left-wing equivalents of Frank Gaffney,  Peter Hoekstra and John Bolton.

      That much-touted FBI report estimated that perhaps 200 vets (and they're not even completely certain that all of them really are) out of the 20 million+ in this country had joined the racist crazy groups.

      It also notes that military experience carries quite a lot of cachet among the extremists,  so the assertion that the unsupported claims to it by a few dozen anonymous wingnuts actually proves anything is flat-out loony.

  •  we should get ADL involved (0+ / 0-)


    by lizard people on Sat Jul 11, 2009 at 01:57:10 PM PDT

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