The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
FEAR was afraid.
Hours after four members of FEAR, an anti-government militia largely made up of active-duty and recently discharged American soldiers, shot to death two teenage sweethearts in the Georgia woods last December, the group gathered around a backyard bonfire, desperately trying to destroy evidence of the crime.
“That didn’t work out so well,” prosecutor Isabel Pauley told a Liberty County, Ga., Superior Court judge Monday morning as a former Army medic became the second member of the dysfunctional band of brothers to agree to testify against his erstwhile comrades in the murders. ( continue to full post… )
Since the SPLC warned the U.S. military about extremist activity among active-duty personnel in 2006, the Pentagon brass has steadfastly denied that a problem existed and insisted that its “zero-tolerance” policy was sufficient to keep organized racists out of its ranks.
That changed this past November, when the Pentagon quietly tightened its policy on extremist activity, which formerly only banned “active participation” in extremist groups but did not define what that meant.
Under the new regulations, military personnel “must not actively advocate supremacist doctrine, ideology or causes” or “otherwise advance efforts to deprive individuals of their civil rights.” The new rules specify that “active participation” includes activities such as recruiting, fundraising, demonstrating or rallying, training, organizing and distributing supremacist material, including online posts.
The revision should give commanders ample new tools to root out racial extremists in their midst. The previous policy, in effect since the mid-1990s, could be interpreted to mean that military personnel were allowed to be “mere members” of hate groups or that they could engage in unaffiliated extremist activities — such as posting racist and anti-Semitic messages to social networking websites and e-mail lists or maintaining online profiles filled with racist materials. As the SPLC has repeatedly pointed out, the policy allowed numerous active-duty members to engage in a range of supremacist activities.
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An independent fact-finding report made public last week by the Pentagon in the wake of the November shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas, concluded that the Pentagon was not well prepared to defend itself from many internal threats. The report, “Protecting the Force: Lessons From Fort Hood,” focused on the serious breakdown within the military that allowed Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who has been charged with killing 13 people, to advance through the ranks despite concerns from his superiors about his behavior.
The report went much further than the Hasan case, however, examining the Pentagon’s efforts to weed out extremists of all kinds — including those involved in white supremacist hate groups. And it found those efforts lacking. In a section entitled “Indicators That DoD Personnel May Become a Danger to Themselves or Others,” the report states that current Pentagon policies are “outdated and fail to include key indicators of potentially violent behavior.” Specifically cited in this respect is “association with hate groups.”
The report recommends that the DoD (Department of Defense) review its policies on prohibited activities, which it says are currently “limited” and “unclear” and only apply to “active participation in groups [including hate groups] that may pose threats to good order and discipline.” And it proposes that the Pentagon broaden the definition of “active participation” to include “contacting, establishing and/or maintaining relationships with persons or entities that interfere with or present a clear danger to loyalty, discipline, mission, or morale of the troops” and may also “increase an individual’s propensity to commit violence.” The review, which was conducted by Togo D. West Jr., a former secretary of the Army, and Adm. Vernon E. Clark, a former chief of naval operations, suggests that the Pentagon come up with “policy changes” to address these purported failings.
In December, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) wrote to West and Clark about concerns that racist extremists were finding their way into the military’s ranks. The SPLC’s letter stated that the Pentagon’s current policy on “active participation” in hate groups is inadequate. Citing many examples of military personnel posting racist and anti-Semitic materials on the Internet, the SPLC called on the Pentagon to revise its regulations to more broadly prohibit contact with extremists.
J. Richard Cohen, the president and CEO of SPLC, wrote: “The fundamental problem is that current Department of Defense regulations prohibiting ‘active participation’ in extremist groups are inadequate because they can be — and apparently are being — interpreted to allow members of the armed forces to be ‘mere members’ of hate groups or to engage in unaffiliated extremist activities, such as posting racist and anti-Semitic messages to social networking websites and maintaining online profiles filled with racist materials.” The letter was accompanied by dozens of examples of hate material posted on the Web by persons describing themselves as active-duty military personnel. ( continue to full post… )
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) today urged Congress to investigate growing evidence that racial extremists are infiltrating the U.S. military and take steps to ensure that the armed forces are not inadvertently training future domestic terrorists.
In a letter to committee chairmen with oversight over homeland security and the armed services, the SPLC said it recently found dozens of personal profiles on the neo-Nazi social networking site, NewSaxon.org, which listed “military” as the poster’s occupation. NewSaxon is run by the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement and serves as a sort of racist version of Facebook for “People of European Descent.” These profiles are just the latest in a string of evidence the SPLC has provided since 2006 to the Pentagon of extremist infiltration of the military (for SPLC’s reports, read here, here, and here).
The NewSaxon profiles include an individual who says he is about to be deployed with the Air Force overseas and is looking forward to “killing all the bloody sand niggers!” Another poster who claims to be currently serving in Iraq writes 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.” He lists Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf as one of his favorite books. Another poster currently serving in Afghanistan lists as his favorite book The Turner Diaries, which was written by neo-Nazi leader William Pierce and served as a blueprint for the Oklahoma City bombing. Many of the profiles include pictures of the posters in military uniform.
These profiles provide further evidence that current Department of Defense regulations prohibiting “active participation” in extremist groups are inadequate because they can be interpreted to allow members of the armed forces to be “mere members” of hate groups or to engage in unaffiliated extremist activities, such as posting racist and anti-Semitic messages to social networking websites and E-mail lists or maintaining online profiles filled with racist materials.
An article posted yesterday on Stars & Stripes’ website about SPLC’s call for congressional action reported that “military officials gave conflicting answers this week when asked how policies governing racist behavior are being enforced.” A spokesman for the Department of the Army told Stars & Stripes that allegations of racist behavior are dealt with “on a case-by-case basis at the unit disciplinary level or in the military justice system” and have not been “addressed as an Army-wide problem.”
It’s no surprise that a person who allegedly hoped to kill President Barack Obama has white supremacist leanings. But the fact that the threat allegedly came from a U.S. Marine has again raised the issue of extremists in the military.
Marine Lance Cpl. Kody Brittingham, stationed at Camp Lejuene, N.C., was arrested in mid-December on an unrelated armed robbery charge and, as a result, separated from the service on Jan. 3. But a search of Brittingham’s barracks also turned up a journal containing white supremacist material and a plan to kill Obama, according to a newspaper account. That reportedly prompted a Secret Service investigation of his alleged threats against the president that is ongoing.
The incident is the latest disturbing account that suggests extremists are infiltrating the military — even as officials deny there’s a problem. Yesterday, Southern Poverty Law Center President Richard Cohen wrote to the Pentagon expressing his disappointment that military officials have taken no action on evidence of white supremacist activity in the military provided as early as 2006 by the SPLC.
“To be frank, it appears that we’re not getting anywhere,” Cohen wrote to Under Secretary of Defense David Chu in his Feb. 11 letter. “We provide evidence from multiple sources about the problem of extremists in the military, and you continue to claim that the military already has a zero-tolerance policy. You tell us that we should bring any information we have about extremist activity by specific Service members to the attention of appropriate Service authorities. But, as we have explained in our reports and in previous letters to you and the Secretary, we have done so, and the authorities have not taken action.” ( continue to full post… )
The racist skinhead logged on with exciting news: He’d just enlisted in the United States Army.
“Sieg Heil, I will do us proud,” he wrote. It was a June 3 post to AryanWear Forum 14, a neo-Nazi online forum to which “Sobibor’s SS,” who identified himself as a skinhead living in Plantersville, Ala., had belonged since early 2004. (Sobibor was a Nazi death camp in Poland during World War II).
About a month after he announced his enlistment, Sobibor’s SS bragged in another post to Forum 14 that he’d specifically requested and been assigned to MOS, or Military Occupational Specialty, 98D. MOS98D soldiers are in high demand right now. That’s because they’re specially trained in disarming Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) like the infamous roadside bombs that are killing and maiming so many U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Presumably, a part of learning how to disarm an IED is learning how to make one.
“I have my own reasons for wanting this training but in fear of the government tracing me and me loosing [sic] my clearance I can’t share them here,” Sobibor’s SS informed his fellow neo-Nazis.
One of his earlier posts indicated his reasons serve a darker purpose than defending America: “Once all the Jews are gone the world will start fixing itself.”
Sobibor’s SS included enough biographical details in his various posts to Forum 14 over the years, including that he’s a single father from the small town in southern Alabama, that a military investigator with access to enlistment records for recent months should have little trouble discerning whether the Army is actually teaching a skinhead with genocide on his mind how to be a tactical bomb maker.
But there’s little reason to expect that will happen.
Two years ago, the Intelligence Report revealed that alarming numbers of neo-Nazi skinheads and other white supremacist extremists were taking advantage of lowered armed services recruiting standards and lax enforcement of anti-extremist military regulations by infiltrating the U.S. armed forces in order to receive combat training and gain access to weapons and explosives. ( continue to full post… )
Two years ago, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld asking him to investigate the extent to which white supremacists had infiltrated the U.S. military and urging him to adopt a zero-tolerance policy on racist extremists.
We had just published “A Few Bad Men,” a report containing significant evidence that thousands of potentially violent neo-Nazis, skinheads and other white supremacists were learning the art of warfare as members of the armed services. Pressure to meet manpower goals for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had led recruiters and commanders to relax the military standards designed to weed out these extremists.
Forty members of Congress joined our call for an investigation. U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican, also urged Rumsfeld to adopt a zero-tolerance policy. “Military extremists present an elevated threat to both their fellow servicemembers and the public,” Shelby wrote. “We witnessed with Timothy McVeigh that today’s racist extremist may become tomorrow’s domestic terrorist.”
Three months later, the Pentagon — apparently without any investigation whatsoever — responded by rejecting our findings as “inaccurate and misleadingly alarmist.”
This week, NBC News producer Jim Popkin uncovered a new, unpublished FBI report that reinforces our findings. In fact, it documents a sort of revolving door between the military and white supremacist organizations. According to Popkin, the FBI found that extremists are recruiting military veterans to their organizations and also encouraging their followers “to infiltrate the military as ‘ghost skins,’ in order to recruit and receive training for the benefit of the extremist movement.” ( continue to full post… )