This is the last part and follow up on how the Military Provides Training On Extremists Preying on Service members.
by Bob Hannafin, Staff Writer
The Department of Defense sponsored a study during the Bush administration, on Screening for Potential Terrorists in the Enlisted Military Accessions Process (April 2005).
They came to similar conclusions as the Department of Homeland Security and FBI did during both the Bush and Obama administrations to wit Obama Secretary of Homeland Security was forced to apologize for hurting a few right-wing Veterans feelings.
Below are the Pentagon findings and are just as true today as they were in 2005, or when Homeland Security released its assessment of extremists groups recruiting Veterans and active duty personnel.
Screening for Potential Terrorists in the Enlisted Military Accessions Process
Approved for Public Distribution: Distribution Unlimited
Research Conducted by Defense Personnel Security Research Center
"To the extent there is an insider threat, the opinion of active duty personnel and counterterrorism and counterintelligence experts and the evidence from case studies examined for this report suggest that it is not from new recruits.
Rather, the threat derives from active duty persons being recruited or converting to radical ideologies out of religious conviction or after becoming disaffected with a commander, a fellow soldier, an assignment, or military service in general. Or, the threat could be manifest in individuals who engage in bad conduct for purely self-interested reasons such as money, ego, addiction, or revenge and then attempt to dignify their actions, after the fact, as being motivated by some higher religious value."
The largest and most active domestic terrorist groups who are specifically anti-U.S. government are often characterized as white supremacists, white nationalists, and right-wing militias.
I also felt dismayed that the various federal government reports tended to focus on right-wing groups as being unfair or imbalanced. However, this finding by the Pentagon made me realize why there is more attention paid to the right-wing than left. [VT.Ed.]
"These groups are likely to pose a greater threat through infiltration of the U.S. military than are Militant Jihadist."
Screening for Potential Terrorists in the Enlisted Military Accessions Process (April 2005).
This report identifies the many steps in the enlisted accessions process that have been implemented to help identify individuals who belong to or are sympathetic of groups that are disloyal and hostile toward the U.S. government.
In early 2004, the Office of the Secretary of Defense Accession Policy Directorate asked the Defense Personnel Security Research Center (PERSEREC) to identify what the Armed Forces are doing to screen for terrorists in the enlistment process. The purpose of this report is to present the results of that effort, reflecting a comprehensive approach to many dimensions of personnel screening in the Armed Forces enlistment process. The report also provides recommendations for additional steps that could be taken to make enlistment screening either more efficient or effective.
Some of these bear directly on counterterrorism issues. Others are recommendations formulated as byproducts of the study’s intensive review of military enlistment procedures. All findings and recommendations have been vetted with Armed Forces Recruiting Commands, United States Military Entrance Processing Command, and basic training personnel throughout the life of the project. In fact, many of the findings and recommendations were provided by the Recruiting Commands and the United States Military Entrance Processing Command (USMEPCOM), who have been a great source of
expertise in this effort.
In early 2004, PERSEREC was tasked to (a) reviewed recent literature and intelligence reports to identify and understand active anti-American groups of concern for military enlistment, (b) reviewed all relevant executive orders, DoD directives, and Armed Forces instructions and regulations, and (c) visited recruiting and military entrance processing facilities across the U.S., interviewing personnel at each.
The report focuses primarily on individuals joining the enlisted ranks rather than on those entering the U.S. Army’s 09L Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), officers, and direct commissions (chaplains, nurses, lawyers, engineers, etc.). In many ways, however, findings from the study bear on these other groups as well. Findings in the report are presented within the following areas:
arriving at a working definition of a terrorist;
characterizing the threat;
suspicion indicators of potential terrorist allegiances;
suspicious incident reporting procedures;
and training and education.
The research found some evidence of small numbers of persons enlisting in the Armed Forces who are sympathetic to or participants in terrorist groups. At the same, the Armed Forces have implemented many policies and practices designed to specifically, or by default, enable detection of and response to such individuals.
Recommendations are made for improving information exchange between DoD, law enforcement, and the intelligence community and for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of relevant DoD accessions policies.
To understand the terrorist threat, contemporary literatures on groups associated with the attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001, were reviewed as well as literature pertaining to domestic terrorist groups. Military criminal investigations personnel were consulted and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), state, local, and military law enforcement intelligence reports were monitored throughout the project to identify indications of terrorist activity by U.S. military enlisted personnel.
Definition of Terrorist
In our meetings with recruiting and USMEPCOM personnel, we found it effective to conceptually frame the "terrorist" in "screening for terrorists" as anyone who was sympathetic to, or a member of, a group that could be characterized as both disloyal and hostile toward the U.S. government. Effectively, anyone who is antagonistic toward the U.S. government and who would be willing in any way to support the efforts of a specific group in working against the U.S. government, its citizens, and entities would qualify as someone whom we are interested in detecting and excluding from military service and from possible access to sensitive information and facilities.
Characterizing the Threat
This section briefly describes the main foreign (Militant Jihadists) and domestic groups (White Supremacists, White Nationalists, and domestic militias) whose past and recent actions and current ideologies render them particularly hostile and disloyal toward the U.S. government. Several data sources were consulted and Recruiting Commands, MEPS, and military law enforcement personnel were interviewed to surface indications of attempted or actual enlistment of disloyal and hostile persons.
The sources accessed for this report did surface some currently or formerly enlisted persons with terrorist or extremist group associations. While their presence in the military is significant in its own right, the actual numbers are extremely small relative to the denominator representing the millions of personnel who have been enlisted in the Armed Forces. Smaller still is the number of personnel who enlisted specifically for purposes of furthering their extremist causes. Most intelligence, information, and history of events suggest that more significant is the threat from outsiders waging attacks against military personnel, some of whom may be employed at RS and MEPS. Additionally, the fact that the insider cases we did find were documented is indicative of the diligence the Recruiting Commands and USMEPCOM have towards these issues.
Policies and Regulations Restricting Extremism in Military Service
The U.S. government, DoD, and the Armed Forces have established numerous policies defining and restricting participation in extremist organizations and activities, which would include participation in terrorist groups and activities. The DoD and Armed Forces have also established policies regarding how to define and respond to persons and activities that appear to be inconsistent with defense of national security. This section lists these policies, along with key components of them that directly and indirectly define and regulate participation of and response to military personnel in extremist and terrorist groups and activities.
At least since 2005, if not before, each recruit joining the Armed Forces is asked these questions prior to taking the Oath of Enlistment. Below is the format used by the military recruiter.
The following questions pertain to your participation in extremist and terrorist organizations and activities.
Note: First, define for each applicant what "extremist or terrorist organizations or activities" mean: People who support or agree with extremist organizations think it is OK to use force or violence or to discriminate against other people based on their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, national origin, or support for U.S. government policy. Or they may try to disrupt, sabotage, overthrow, or commit espionage or terrorism against the U.S. government, or any of its State or local governments.
a. Have you ever advocated or practiced discrimination or committed acts of violence or terrorism against individuals based on their religion, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, disability, gender, or loyalty to the U.S. government? (YES/NO)
b. Have you posted or distributed literature or participated in public demonstrations to show your allegiance to or to promote an extremist organization or philosophy? (YES/NO)
c. Have you ever provided labor, money, or other resources to extremist individuals or organizations? (YES/NO)
d. Have you ever received training from or recruited or provided training for extremist organizations or causes? (YES/NO)
e. Have you ever attended any meetings, participated in any Web sites or on-line discussions, or exchanged information in any way with individuals involved in extremist organizations or causes? (YES/NO)
f. Are there any groups (such as countries, political groups, or religious groups) who you would feel obligated to defend if they claimed they were under attack by the United States Government? (YES/NO)
If you answered "yes" to any of question (a) through (f) above, please explain.
U.S. Domestic Terrorists
The largest and most active domestic terrorist groups who are specifically anti-U.S. government are often characterized as white supremacists, white nationalists, and right-wing militias. These groups are likely to pose a greater threat through infiltration of the U.S. military than are Militant Jihadists. Many of these domestic extremist groups operating today and their ideologies were well described in an earlier study that looked at screening for extremists in the military (1998 in response to the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995).
The essential ideologies of these groups have not changed since 1998. The following excerpt, taken from a Web site, characterizes the extremist components of the White Nationalist ideology : The problem, as any White Nationalist knows, isn’t in the Black Nationalists, who are really potential allies, but rather in the corrupt criminal regimeists [sic], who are the real enemies. Given their criminal nature, it is a waste of time to negotiate with them for our freedom, just as it is undesirable for us to leave them alive to corrupt our future White Nationalist nations. These regime criminals have usefully segregated themselves into professions such as lawyers, politicians, bankers, and police. So now that they have made themselves known as oppressors to the people by their conduct, it is an easy thing to identify them for.
Similar sentiments to the above statement can be found in more recent postings on white supremacist [and Constitutionalists] Web sites.
The following demonstrates the threat from the right-wing militia types in the U.S.:
Mr. [X], a 38-year-old who last made a living renting out snowmobiles here in this spectacularly beautiful nook of northwestern Montana had a terror plan that made Osama bin Laden’s look rinky-dink. Not content merely to kill a few thousand people, Mr. [X]’s nine-member militia was
planning a violent revolution and civil war to overthrow the entire U.S. government. The plan, according to Sheriff James Dupont, was for the militia to use its machine guns, pipe bombs and 30,000 rounds of ammunition to assassinate 26 local officials (including Mr. Dupont), and then wipe out the National Guard when it arrived. After the panicked authorities sent in NATO troops, true American patriots would rise up, a ferocious war would ensue, and the U.S. would end up back in the hands of white Christians. [Sound familiar? Vigilance as in Vigilante! VT.Ed.]
The above news excerpt captures the essence of the right-wing militia movement in the U.S.; many of its supporters overlap with White Nationalists [Constitutionalist] and Supremacists.
Some members of these groups act on their beliefs merely through personal separatism, a benign form of protest. Other militia members have been indicted and convicted for planning to bomb federal buildings, attacking military bases, robbing armories, and igniting propane storage facilities.
In Florida, a militia planned to destroy a nuclear power plant. Enlistment of individuals with these ambitions is justifiably of concern to the Armed Forces. The common denominator in the Militant Jihadists and the above domestic groups is their advocacy of violence to achieve their anti-U.S. government ideological ends. As one author states:
In fact, militia members and Al-Qaeda members are remarkably similar. Both are galvanized by religious extremism (America’s militias overlap with the Christian Identity movement, which preaches that Jews are the children of Satan and that people of color are sub-human), both see the U.S. government as utterly evil, and both are empowered by the information revolution that enables them to create networks, recruit disciples and trade recipes for bio- and chemical weapons.
Other Militant Activists on the Left
Other militant activists such as the Environmental Liberation Front (ELF), the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), the Animal Rights Foundation (ARF), and anarchists engage in violence to achieve their particular objectives. For animal rights activists, common targets include factory farms, cosmetic manufacturers, and labs that use animals in scientific experiments. Anarchists may target Wal-Mart and other big chain stores. Environmental activists have been known to sabotage land developments and vandalize car dealerships and personal SUVs.
The disqualifiers for military service for militants described in this paragraph would be their propensity for or history of criminal conduct, not their disloyalty and hostility toward the U.S. government. Since these groups are not targeting the U.S. government per se, they are not considered further in this report.
Evidence Indicating Prevalence of Involvement of Hostile and Disloyal Groups in the Military at the Time of Enlistment
To find evidence of involvement of hostile and disloyal groups in the military at the time of enlistment, the following sources were consulted:
open-source digital newspaper articles,
law enforcement sensitive intelligence reports available on the FBI’s LEO
Online, postings on electronic message boards hosted by extremist groups,
decisions of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces,
"yes" responses to associations-related questions on the SF 86/EPSQ,
reports of investigation (ROIs) for subjects under the age of 35 undergoing initial security clearance investigations,
leadership in each of the Recruiting Commands, and personnel from the Army Criminal Investigation Division, the Navy Criminal Investigation Service, and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.
The following describes the findings from these sources.
Federal investigators access message board searches using terms associated with extremist groups and military enlistees yielded some of the strongest evidence of disloyal and hostile persons enlisting in the military, and, in some cases, possibly for the express purpose of carrying out an anti-American agenda. Almost all of these were white supremacists or nationalists, and most were found in www.stormfront.org forums. The online search is for a cross-section of the kind of rhetoric demonstrating both presence and intolerability of potentially disloyal and hostile persons in the accessions process.
Note: Relative to the population of military enlistees, the numbers suggest the involvement of a handful of isolated cases, or at most, very small cadres. The presence of these individuals in the military does not necessarily indicate, however, grave deficiencies in the enlistment screening system process. It more likely reflects the ability of some individuals without derogatory records to both satisfy enlistment standards and withhold information about extremist ideologies and associations throughout the process. For example, the responses of some message board members to white supremacists contemplating enlistment indicate that some do enlist, but that many are separated once their white supremacist or white nationalist loyalties become known.
All Official Reports of Investigation (ROIs) stored in the Defense Security Service (DSS) Case Control Management System (CCMS) from 1999 through 2003 (approximating a million and a half cases) were searched for presence of terms that indicated that issues pertaining to extremism had surfaced in DoD security clearance background investigations. [Note: readers must assume that the same procedures are used today. VT. Ed.]
Examples of terms that yielded relevant cases are as follows:
- confederate flag
- conspiracy theories
- david koresh
- hates the U.S.
- [racial slur]
- right wing
- Skin head
- to forge
- ultra conservative
The terms were not case-sensitive. All cases containing these terms that pertained to military subjects under the age of 35 who were undergoing an initial security clearance were reviewed. Whether these soldiers were officers or enlisted personnel was not known. Data were also not available to indicate how long subjects of these cases had been in the military. Nonetheless, they give some approximation of the extent, or lack of extent, of extremists in the military.
Conclusions about the Threat of Terrorists Infiltrating the Military through the Enlisted Accessions Process (That was 2005???but the Obama Administration has been cowed into downplaying this threat so that right-wing militias can continue to flourish and recruit Veterans as they did during the Bush administration. VT. Ed]
Readers are more than welcome to use the articles I’ve posted on Veterans Today, I’ve had to take a break from VT as Veterans Issues and Peace Activism Editor and staff writer due to personal medical reasons in our military family that take away too much time needed to properly express future stories or respond to readers in a timely manner.
My association with VT since its founding in 2004 has been a very rewarding experience for me.
Retired from both the Air Force and Civil Service. Went in the regular Army at 17 during Vietnam (1968), stayed in the Army Reserve to complete my eight year commitment in 1976. Served in Air Defense Artillery, and a Mechanized Infantry Division (4MID) at Fort Carson, Co. Used the GI Bill to go to college, worked full time at the VA, and non-scholarship Air Force 2-Year ROTC program for prior service military. Commissioned in the Air Force in 1977. Served as a Military Intelligence Officer from 1977 to 1994. Upon retirement I entered retail drugstore management training with Safeway Drugs Stores in California. Retail Sales Management was not my cup of tea, so I applied my former U.S. Civil Service status with the VA to get my foot in the door at the Justice Department, and later Department of the Navy retiring with disability from the Civil Service in 2000.
I’ve been with Veterans Today since the site originated. I’m now on the Editorial Board. I was also on the Editorial Board of Our Troops News Ladder another progressive leaning Veterans and Military Family news clearing house.
I remain married for over 45 years. I am both a Vietnam Era and Gulf War Veteran. I served on Okinawa and Fort Carson, Colorado during Vietnam and in the Office of the Air Force Inspector General at Norton AFB, CA during Desert Storm. I retired from the Air Force in 1994 having worked on the Air Staff and Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon.