advertisement
Rioters storm the Capitol. Many have military backgrounds, raising alarm a the Pentagon. (Photo: Tyler Merbler)
Rioters storm the Capitol. Many have military backgrounds, raising alarm at the Pentagon. (Photo: Tyler Merbler)

White supremacists are a growing threat to the nation, and the U.S. military may be an incubator for extremism and violence.

A new Pentagon report revealed that white supremacists are active in the US military.

That was evident given the military background of many of those arrested in the wake of the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6.

Retired military servicemen are turning up in alarming numbers on wanted posters and in charging documents stemming from the attack.

The trend is causing increasing concern among experts about the dangerous allure of extremist, paramilitary groups to those with a military background, according to ABC News.

A CNN analysis found that at least 27 current or former members of the US military are facing federal charges in connection with the riot, along with off-duty law enforcement officials.

The latest report, obtained by Roll Call, was commissioned by Congress and dated October 2020.

It details anecdotal evidence of former military personnel about the origin of their white supremacist views while serving in the armed forces.

In one instance, a former guardsman explained in a post on the “Iron March” online forum how his service friends shared his views.

The former guardsman was confirmed to have been a co-founder of Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi group that has been implicated in several murders.

In another instance, a man seen on video smashing through the window of the Capitol building with a police shield was identified as a former Marine.

The man, Dominic Pezzola, was in the Marines for seven years as an infantry assault soldier, and had won a National Defense Service Medal.

Adam Newbold, 45, from Lisbon, Ohio, is a retired reserve Navy SEAL who was arrested after boasting on to his Facebook followers that he had “breached” the Capitol to make lawmakers “think twice about what they’re doing” and leave them “shaking in their shoes.”

Newbold pleaded for forgiveness afterward and swore he wasn’t a terrorist or a traitor.”

Jessica Watkins, a 38-year-old veteran of the war in Afghanistan was identified as commanding officer of the Ohio State Regular Militia, a subset of the Oath Keepers. Watkins was charged with terrorism for her role in the Capitol insurrection.

“The large number of individuals with ties to law enforcement or the military already arrested or apparently now under investigation suggests a deeper level of far-right sympathizers in these fields,” Javed Ali, a former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council, told the news network.

Right now, the Navy is the only branch that has a rule requiring those identified as white supremacists to leave the military.

Ironically, all U.S. military personnel are required to swear and oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

But that pledge has been been twisted by para-military groups like the Oath Keepers and 3 Percenters to mean something different.

They see it as a mandate to take the law in their own hands to fight the nation’s perceived enemies both within and without based on their own notions about the U.S. Constitution.

Their list of enemies has expanded from radical Muslim groups to socialists, communists and liberal democrats. Black Lives Matter groups have become a particular target as well as the so-called Antifa.

Traditional enemies include Jews, Blacks, Hispanics, the LGBTQ+ community, and other supposed enemies of whites, according to the Brookings report.

These groups feed off right-wing propaganda spouted by Fox News and other far-right cable networks, social media sites and by former President Donald Trump.

Under Trump, one former senior FBI noted, “There’s some reluctance among agents to bring forth an investigation that targets what the president perceives as his base.

“It’s a no-win situation for the FBI agent or supervisor,” the former senior official said.

The white supremacist movement has steadily globalized, and this trend continues to accelerate, according to The New York Times.  

Many of the most dangerous white supremacists are individuals with no formal connection to a known group but who are avid consumers of propaganda on social media or otherwise engaged in the movement as a whole, according to a Brookings report.

Trump’s embrace of Russia dovetailed chillingly with the views of white supremacists promoted by alt-right propagandist Steve Bannon.

They see the world divided in racial terms making mostly white “Christian” Russia a natural ally of the United States. all other races are viewed as potential enemies.

To find ideological underpinnings for such views, look no further than the rhetoric of white supremacists in the United States and Russia.

“I really believe that Russia is the leader of the free world right now,” Matthew Heimbach, a self-professed white supremacist and alt-rightist told Business Insider in a recent interview.

Heimbach outlined his view of the situation in a 2013 speech at the Stormfront Smoky Mountain Summit, a gathering of Neo-Nazis.

He called Russia a “model for civilization” and “a beacon for nationalists,” according to Business Insider.

Klu Klux Klan lawyer Sam Dickson also attended and shared Taylor’s view that preservation of “[the white] race and civilization” were his goals.

The Capitol resurrection provided compelling proof the U.S. military is a breeding ground for white supremacy.

The white supremacist agenda has also bled over into a broader anti-government agenda embraced by militias and movements like the boogaloo bois.

Among its recommendations the Pentagon report suggest preventing known white supremacists from enlisting.

That includes tightening security clearance checks focused on white supremacy and giving the Defense Department access to an FBI database of extremist symbols and other signs of extremism.

The report also recommends giving all branches of the military the power to expel white supremacists from the service.

President Joe Biden has made clear that he rejects white supremacist groups.

Following the Capitol insurrection, he pledged to make white extremism a priority. Attorney General designate Merrick Garland has also vowed to make the Capitol insurrection his top priority.