CNN Reveals Disturbing Pervasiveness of White Supremacy in American Military
A Defense Department report obtained by CNN has revealed the alarming rate at which white supremacy has metastasized throughout the United States military – an issue that was no doubt exhibited during the January 6th siege on the United States Capitol.
The findings were presented in a segment on the network on Thursday morning.
“The ink can hide the symbols of extremism, but the damage runs far deeper,” investigative reporter Oren Lieberman began. “At Redemption Ink in Colorado Springs, Dave Brown has covered more than 70 extremist or hate-inspired tattoos, more than 20, he estimates, are military, and he has a waitlist of 635 people.”
Footage rolled of Brown amending regrettable ink.
“When he first came in and showed us the work that he had, I think everybody’s jaw kind of hit the floor,” Brown remarked. “We have covered everything from portraits of the founding fathers of the KKK to swastikas. I’ve covered up a human trafficking branding.”
The Army veteran camouflages the tattoos of hate for reformed extremists but the ideologies and their symbols are still spreading in the military. Tattoos can be a calling card for white supremacists and extremists in the military, a way to grow their own ranks in secret amidst a nationwide surge in white nationalist activity. But according to a Department of Defense report on extremism obtained by CNN, some of the recruiting tactics are more brazen and more open. One example in the report, a military member and co-founder of the neo-Nazi group known as Atomwaffen Division told another member he was open with his friends at training, ‘They love me, too, cause I’m a funny guy,’ he wrote in a message.
It is all too easy for hatemongers to seek each other out, Lieberman explained:
The Defense Department determined that others find each other through obscure fascist symbols on t-shirts or simply connect on social media and messaging apps.
US troops are primary targets for many extremist groups who want their training, combat experience and legitimacy they bring to an organization. The report found that members of one far right extremist group shared military manuals, including an army manual on IEDs – improvised explosive devices – on the encrypted messaging app known as Telegram.
The Capitol riots of January 6th put a spotlight on military extremism. A CNN analysis has shown that at least 27 people facing federal charges in connection with the riot are current or former members of the military.
Lieberman said that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has made stamping out hate a priority.
“This tears at the fabric, very fabric of cohesion and it’s important for us to be able to trust the men and women on our left and right,” Austin recently said at a press briefing.
Extremism has been a problem in the military for decades. Austin says he believes the number of extremists in the military is low but there is no data to back up his assertion. Austin ordered a review of policies on extremism but extremism expert Heidi Beirich says this will take time.
The military has strict limits on the screening and background checks it can do of applicants and servicemembers. Deeper, more intrusive investigations require working with the FBI, a key recommendation of the DoD report. Beirich says the military needs a better screening process to root out extremism before it enters the ranks.
Beirich stressed the challenge facing the military:
This is a massive management task and not gonna be something that is done easily at all. I would say you need to fix your screening procedures immediately. Social media accounts need to be taken a look at, not just voluntarily but seriously. You need a functioning tattoo database for your recruiters and they need to be trained in the signs of white supremacy.
Even beyond the challenges of rooting out domestic extremism within active ranks, there’s the issue of veterans, more than 18 million of them, who are also prime targets for domestic extremists.
Watch below, courtesy of Crooks and Liars: