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US Armed Forces Heart Neo-Nazis as Troops?

Despite excessive media coverage of the Sikh Temple massacre in Wisconsin on Sunday, August 5, 2012, perpetrated by veteran Wade Michael Page, according to Eric London at wsws our corporate media once again missed the critical element of the story, “the close connections between the US Armed Forces and various fascistic and white supremacist organizations."

Mr. London:

US Armed Forces recruiters, officers and high-ranking executive branch officials have quietly provided fascist organizations with opportunities to recruit soldiers into the ranks of the National Socialist Movement, Hammerskins, White Military Men and National Alliance

London proceeds to lay out an alarming not all that recent trend in the US military, in need of military person-power, to turn a blind eye and even to develop an appreciative respect for avowed neo-Nazis who have a mythic regard for themselves as “superwarriors” in the war for white supremacy. A chilling passage from London’s article:

As Jacob Berg, an active service soldier in Iraq and a member of the fascist Blood & Honour group, explained to Salon journalist Matt Kennard, “There are actually a lot more ‘skinheads,’ ‘Nazis,’ white supremacists now [in the military] than there has been in a long time.” Berg wrote in an E-mail exchange with Kennard, “Us racists are actually getting into the military a lot now because if we don’t every one who already is [in the military] will take pity on killing sand niggers…. I’m so proud of my kills [because] by killing a brown [person] many white people will live to see a new dawn.”

Maybe the enabling of Al Qaeda fighters by the US CIA in Syria should not be so surprising after putting these disclosures in context. Craven ends justifies craven means once again?

Re the Sikh massacre, it was Wade Michael Page, self-identified neo-Nazi, and former US service member, who murdered six and critically wounded three before shooting himself after having been shot by the police.

London discloses:

He [Page] really started to identify with neo-Nazism during his time in the military,” said University of Nebraska criminologist Pete Simi, who met Page during a 2001 study on white power groups. “And specifically, what he told me at one point was that, if you join the military and you’re not a racist, then you certainly will be by the time you leave."

The Hammerskins, National Alliance, and a variety of other neo-Nazi groups were continuously involved in recruitment efforts at numerous Armed Forces bases across the US during the time of Page’s military service, according to reports by the FBI and the Southern Poverty Law Center. The findings point to especially high levels of fascist activity at Fort Bragg Army Base in North Carolina, where Page was stationed between 1995 and 1998.

London goes on to describe the troubling presence and at times violence of US military neo-Nazis:

Around the time that Page arrived in Fort Bragg, three neo-Nazi members of the 82nd Airborne Division were arrested for the murder of a black couple in nearby Fayetteville. A subsequent investigation uncovered nearly two-dozen soldiers with connections to neo-Nazis at Fort Bragg.

snip

In 1992, a group of Fort Bragg soldiers organized a white supremacy paramilitary cell called the Special Forces Underground, which was affiliated with the National Alliance.

Over a decade later, a neo-Nazi intelligence officer stationed in Iraq was caught attempting to mail weapons back to the United States.

In 2006, the Southern Poverty Law Center discovered online groups of neo-Nazis made up of Fort Bragg soldiers.

Currently, “outside every major military installation, you will have at least two or three active neo-Nazi organizations actively trying to recruit on-duty personnel,” explained TJ Leyden, a former neo-Nazi told the Christian Science Monitor.

Fascists “stretch across all branches of [military] service, they are linking up across the branches once they’re inside, and they are hard-core,” former Defense Department gang detective Scott Barfield told the SPLC in 2006, adding: “there’s plenty of evidence we’re talking numbers well into the thousands, just in the Army.”

Well into the thousands! Certainly cause for alarm and media attention, except maybe it embarrasses the current administration and the last Bush one and impression management once again trumps surreal and toxic reality and its need for disclosure, exploration and accountability! And, again, the need for those bodies to slaughter, and clearly those with a racist zealousness for killing are all the more efficient. Like those Al Qaeda troops successfully terrorizing citizen Syrians right now.

... the recruitment of open members of fascist groups is government policy. In response to declining enlistment numbers after the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration removed gang-activity barriers to enlistment in 2005. Since the government does not make qualitative distinctions between fascist groups and street gangs, the decision amounted to an open-door policy for neo-Nazis.

snip

Tom Metzger, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and current leader of the White Aryan Resistance, told Salon that the military was more tolerant of fascists. “Now they are letting everybody in,” Metzger said.

snip

Officers and administration officials either directly or tacitly support the recruitment of fascists. “Recruiters are knowingly allowing neo-Nazis and white supremacists to join the armed forces, and commanders don’t remove them… even after we positively identify them as extremists or gang members,” says former Defense Department detective Barfield.

London reveals anecdotal evidence of such a collective military “blind eye” to the neo-Nazis:

TJ Leyden explained that officers often are ambivalent to open support for fascism within the Armed Forces. Leyden recalls that when he hung a Nazi flag in his barracks, “the only thing my commander would say was, ‘Hey, can you do me a favor? Can you take that flag down when the CG [commanding general] comes through?’”

snip

Forrest Fogarty, a neo-Nazi veteran of the Iraq War, told Salon in 2008 that the Army was well aware of his involvement with fascist groups but did nothing to punish him. When Fogarty’s ex-girlfriend mailed the Armed Forces a file of photographs showing him at fascist rallies and performing in a Nazi band, Fogarty explained that, “they hauled me before some sort of committee and showed me the pictures… They knew what I was about. But they let it go because I’m a great soldier.”

In 2005 after being honorably discharged, Fogarty was asked to reenlist.

snip

US Armed Forces officers had a similar response when a photograph showing the I Marine Expeditionary Force in Afghanistan posing with the SS flag surfaced in early 2012. Local commanders had been aware of the photos for months and refused to discipline the soldiers outside of asking them to avoid further photographing sessions with the SS flag.

London goes as far as to describe the relationship between the US military and fascist organizations as “incestuous”.

As the murders in Wisconsin and previous experiences such as the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing show, the US military—with the tacit or open blessing of the Pentagon brass and representatives of both political parties—has become the incubator of the most politically reactionary elements....

It is apparent that layers within the military value right-wing nationalist groups for adding to the culture of violence and genocide that coincides with the aims of the US military in its neo-colonial wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. With the lies about the “war on terror” in shatters—as the US allies itself with al Qaeda in Libya and Syria to achieve its geo-political aims—the American government and military must increasingly rely on the most reactionary ideological views to justify its imperialist wars, occupations and brutal subjugation of foreign populations.

The American army being more and more overrun by neo-Nazis? Time to fight our collective illusions and rally against such an Orwellian and dooming reality.

UPDATE: Some additional comments on this issue:

Daniel Trotta:

"In 1995, eight months before the Fort Bragg murders, two former Army soldiers bombed the Oklahoma City federal building, killing 168 people. With a growing awareness of the spreading militia movement, the Pentagon in 1996 banned military personnel from participating in supremacist causes and authorized commanders to cashier personnel for rallying, recruiting or training racists."

"What's scary about Page is that he served in the 1990s when putatively this was being treated quite seriously by the military. There's plenty of other Pages who served during the war on terror, and we don't know what they're going to be doing over the next decade or so," said Matt Kennard, author of the forthcoming book "Irregular Army: How the U.S. Military Recruited Neo-Nazis, Gang Members and Criminals to Fight the War on Terror."

"Kennard argues the U.S. military was so desperate for troops while fighting simultaneous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that it allowed extremists, felons and gang members into the armed forces."

"The military can grant a "moral waiver" to allow a convicted criminal or otherwise ineligible person into the armed forces, and the percentage of recruits granted such waivers grew from 16.7 percent in 2003 to 19.6 percent in 2006, according to Pentagon data obtained by the Palm Center in a 2007 Freedom of Information Act request. But the Pentagon says no waiver exists for participation in extremist organizations."

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Belen Fernandez

"According to a 2005 report sponsored by the US Department of Defence itself, "the military has a 'don't ask, don't tell' policy pertaining to extremism". However, Kennard's investigations suggest that even blatant "telling" often fails to incur meaningful repercussions.

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The Atlantic

"Apparently, once a soldier signs on, it can be extremely difficult to remove the extremists, notes Carter F. Smith, a former military investigator. "They are some of the most disciplined soldiers we have," he said. "They [extremists] really want to learn to shoot those weapons.""

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David Niewert

"This problem doesn’t involve only the Nazis, gang-bangers, and other violent personalities worming their way into the military. It also affects the many more formerly normal, non-racist recruits who have been dragged into multiple tours of duty in Iraq, regardless of the psychological dangers of such treatment. This includes many people whose evaluations have recommended they not be returned for duty but have been sent back regardless. Thus the Timothy McVeigh Finishing School continues to operate."

"This has the deadly potential to become a significant component of the predictable surge in far-right activity likely to manifest itself in the United States in the coming months and years, especially as Democrats and liberals expand their hold on power. We run the risk of re-creating the conditions that arose in Germany and Italy after World War I: the presence of scores of angry, disaffected, and psychologically damaged war veterans, fed a steady diet of "Dolchstosslegende," poised to organize into a political force aimed at "rebirthing" the nation and its heritage."

"In our current situation, these veterans not only will have served with neo-Nazis amid their ranks, they will likely be faced with unemployment and a wrecked economy, eager for someone to blame and fully trained and capable of violent action."

"SPLC Chief Counsel Richard Cohen has written another letter to the Defense Secretary pleading that the DoD take concrete steps to deal with this problem. Here's hoping he produces something other than denial this time."

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Matt Kennard on Democracy Now

"A point that must be made, too, is gangs is another huge issue, especially at the bases along the border with Mexico, because they’re involved in trafficking drugs, trafficking weapons, etc. And this is an issue, as well, which has got wide coverage. The Southern Poverty Law Center did important work in 2006 on this. Other groups have been doing it, active duty personnel. But, every time this issue has been raised, the U.S. military has targeted the person raising it. So, soldiers who have said, Look, my unit is riven with white supremacists or gang members, the military has demoted them, has kicked them out of the military. I mean I came across countless examples of that. So this is not something that the military missed by accident. This is something that the military has actively ignored and persecuted the people that are raising the issue. In fact, later on, I think you’re going to have Daryl Johnson on who is the DHS analyst who authored the report about the threat of far right-wing extremism. He was targeted by the DHS as soon as that report came out and right-wing politicians for raising the issue."

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