In the days following the January 6th attempted insurrection at the Capitol, law enforcement was forced to take a good, long look in the mirror.
That’s because, as social media video of the riotous event ricocheted around the internet, it became fairly obvious that Capitol Police officers were acting a bit strange. Instead of arresting or detaining any of those involved, who were earlier marching through the halls of the Capitol chanting “hand Mike Pence”, officers could be seen helping them down the stairs, opening the barricades for them, or even taking selfies with a select few.
This led to a number of suspensions and investigations within the force, and a larger overall concern about metaphorical snakes in the grass.
The military was prompted to do a little digging of their own on the subject, and what they found wasn’t great.
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The previously unpublicized report comes to us from October of 2020, just a few months ahead of the events of January 6th.
The report, obtained by CQ Roll Call, paints a stark picture of white supremacist inroads in the U.S. military. And it reveals several steps the Pentagon is now reviewing to kick such people out and help keep them out — from accessing an FBI database of extremist tattoos to improving security clearance questions.
While neo-Nazis and other extremists are rare in the U.S. armed forces, exactly how rare is not known. And military veterans who adhere to supremacist beliefs have been overrepresented in recent American violence — including in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
And there is some reason for concern.
The Pentagon report said U.S. military personnel and veterans are “highly prized” recruits for supremacist groups, and leaders of those groups try to join the military themselves and get those already in their groups to enlist. Their goal is to obtain weapons and skills and to try to borrow the military’s bravado and cachet, the authors suggested.
In response, the Department of Defense is looking at a number of options, including allowing the DOD to have access to the FBI’s database of extremist tattoos, or creating a new discharge code that would serve as a public record of a former member’s extremism.
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