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Democratic lawmakers are urging the Defense Department to “immediately” investigate extremist activity within the US military and implement a plan to prevent the ideology from further spreading within its ranks,
“As you are aware, several insurrectionists who attacked the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021 have been identified as active duty service members, reservists, retirees, and veterans,” fourteen US senators said in a letter to the acting inspector general of the Defense Department.
“Although the Pentagon has acknowledged this issue, it has failed to implement a comprehensive action plan to address it,” they added.
Democrats who signed the letter included Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Dianne Feinstein of California.
“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,” the lawmakers continued. “We urge you to launch a comprehensive investigation into instances of white supremacist and violent fringe extremist activity within the military.”
The letter, dated Thursday, comes in the wake of the Capitol Hill siege that has so far claimed the lives of five people, including one police officer. Several people who participated in the looting and unlawful assembly inside the lawmakers’ chambers have since been identified as military veterans, some of whom are former officers, as well as law enforcement officials.
Accused of being part of the group included the “QAnon shaman,” a US Navy veteran; as well as retired US Air Force Lt. Col. Larry Rendall Brock, Jr. On Wednesday, an infantryman in the Virginia National Guard was arrested, making him the first known person with an active connection with the military to be taken into custody, according to Military.com.
“Members of the Armed Forces are an extension of our communities and are not exempt from extremist influences on the rise within the civilian community,” the lawmakers’ letter continued. “Research demonstrates that service members and veterans are often targeted by right-wing extremists seeking to capitalize on their specialized training and combat experience.”
“We appreciate your immediate attention to this issue and urge you to take action on this wave of violent extremism,” they added.
The Defense Department’s inspector general office on Thursday announced it would evaluate “the extent to which the DoD and the Military Services have implemented policy and procedures that prohibit active advocacy and active participation related to supremacist, extremist, or criminal gang doctrine, ideology, or causes by active duty military personnel.”
It added that it would expand the scope of the study, if necessary.
The presence of military veterans has sparked questions as to whether the Defense Department was adequately addressing the proliferation of right-wing extremist ideologies, something agencies like the FBI have said was a problem in the country in recent years.
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Source:: Businessinsider – Politics