Monday, June 15, 2009

Remeber That DHS Report Warning Military Veterans Might Join Right-Wing Extremists?

Under President Bush, the US military effectively adopted a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy when recruiting white supremacists and neo-Nazis into the Army.

That Department of Homeland Security Report on right-wing extremism, heavily criticized by right-wing conservatives when it was released in April, warned precisely of the type of violence that occurred at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. and Dr. Tiller's abortion clinic. That same DHS report also assessed that some military veterans could be susceptible to recruitment by these extremist groups.

Even though the report exclusively identified neo-Nazis, white supremacists, gang members and radicalized abortion opponents as right-wing extremists, a wide swath of conservative Republican voices -- from Rush Limbaugh to RNC Chairman Michael Steele -- lashed out at the DHS Secretary over what they deemed an anti-Republican report. (Do they identify these right-wing extremists as a core part of the Republican Party?) Mainstream conservatives went into a frenzy over the report, demanding that Secretary Janet Napolitano be fired. Even after last week’s shooting by a white supremacist at the Holocaust Museum, conservatives stood by their criticism of the DHS report — despite the fact that the report specifically warned about white supremacist and anti-Semitic extremists.

Many conservatives also lashed out at the report for suggesting that military veterans might be susceptible to extremist recruiters. Republicans said the Homeland Security report "unfairly characterizes military veterans as right-wing extremists." House Republican leader John Boehner described the report as offensive and called on the agency to apologize to veterans.

Here again Republicans are playing partisan politics on an issue that is critical to the security and safety of Americans. According to Newsweek, some local intelligence “fusion centers" ceased their operations monitoring right-wing extremists because of the conservative outcry.

Numerous articles have detailed the Army’s manpower shortages under President Bush's stop loss order that returned soldiers to combat tours of duty three, four and five times in two war zones. Potential recruits were more difficult to enlist when faced with multiple duty tours, duty recalls and the increasing possible death by the fifth successive tour of combat duty.

In an effort to fill recruitment quotas under President Bush, the US military effectively adopted a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy when recruiting white supremacists and neo-Nazis into the Army. Under pressure, the Army ignored its recruiting standards to let in neo-Nazis, white supremacists and gang members who otherwise should have been turned away, according to a new article in Salon by Matt Kennard:
“Some neo-Nazis have been charged with crimes inside the military, and others have been linked to recruitment efforts for the white right.”

“Many white supremacists join the Army to secure training for, as they see it, a future domestic race war. Others claim to be shooting Iraqis not to pursue the military’s strategic goals but because killing ‘hajjis’ is their duty as white militants.”

“Soldiers’ associations with extremist groups, and their racist actions, contravene a host of military statutes instituted in the past three decades,” he adds. “But during the “war on terror,” U.S. armed forces have turned a blind eye on their own regulations. A 2005 Department of Defense report states, ‘Effectively, the military has a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy pertaining to extremism. If individuals can perform satisfactorily, without making their extremist opinions overt … they are likely to be able to complete their contracts.’"

"Following an investigation of white supremacist groups, a 2008 FBI report declared: "Military experience — ranging from failure at basic training to success in special operations forces — is found throughout the white supremacist extremist movement." In white supremacist incidents from 2001 to 2008, the FBI identified 203 veterans. Most of them were associated with the National Alliance and the National Socialist Movement, which promote anti-Semitism and the overthrow of the U.S. government, and assorted skinhead groups."

"Because the FBI focused only on reported cases, its numbers don't include the many extremist soldiers who have managed to stay off the radar. But its report does pinpoint why the white supremacist movements seek to recruit veterans — they "may exploit their accesses to restricted areas and intelligence or apply specialized training in weapons, tactics, and organizational skills to benefit the extremist movement."

"In fact, since the movement's inception, its leaders have encouraged members to enlist in the U.S. military as a way to receive state-of-the-art combat training, courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer, in preparation for a domestic race war. The concept of a race war is central to extremist groups, whose adherents imagine an eruption of violence that pits races against each other and the government."

--- Click here for REST OF MATT KENNARD'S STORY IN SALON!... ---
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