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Thursday, March 4th, 2021

Defense Department to investigate white supremacy and extremist ideology within military

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The U.S. Department of Defense will investigate the prevalence of white supremacy and extremist ideology in the ranks of the military.

The investigation comes after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Lawmakers said that several of the insurrectionists who attacked the Capitol have been identified as active duty servicemembers, reservists, retirees, and veterans. The investigation comes after calls to do so from several U.S. senators.

“The issue of white supremacy and extremist ideology within the ranks of our military is not new, but the attack on the Capitol makes clear this alarming trend must be immediately addressed,” a group of Democratic senators wrote in a letter to Department of Defense Acting Inspector General Sean O’Donnell. “The spread of white supremacist ideology is dangerous for the military and threatens to rupture civil-military safeguards that our democracy requires.”

The letter was signed by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Edward Markey (D-MA), Sherrod Brown (D-H), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Bob Casey (D-PA).

A 2020 poll found that approximately one-third of all active-duty respondents said they saw “signs of white supremacist or racist ideology in the ranks.” Further, research shows that right-wing extremists deliberately target servicemembers and veterans to capitalize on their specialized experience.

The senators pressed the Department of Defense to “support servicemembers when they transition out of the military so that our active duty and veteran populations are less vulnerable to recruitment by extremist organizations and more resilient in the face of misinformation and conspiracy theories – the perpetuation of which the FBI has deemed a domestic terrorism threat.”