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.