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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Friday, July 7, 2006

Here's a nasty consequence of stretching the US military too thin.

It's a well-established fact that Dubya's administration invaded Iraq with far too few troops to control the country effectively — a fact that's re-emphasized daily by the virulence of the Iraqi insurgency and the rising numbers of dead and injured US troops. As the war becomes more unpopular with the public, the military has found it increasingly difficult to meet its need for personnel, and has had to lower educational and other standards in order to meet recruitment requirements.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the military has lowered the recruitment bar in an area that will have long-term and nasty consequences here at home: Racist extremists are once again serving in the military in large numbers.

From the SPLC's full report:

Ten years after Pentagon leaders toughened policies on extremist activities by active duty personnel -- a move that came in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing by decorated Gulf War combat veteran Timothy McVeigh and the murder of a black couple by members of a skinhead gang in the elite 82nd Airborne Division -- large numbers of neo-Nazis and skinhead extremists continue to infiltrate the ranks of the world's best-trained, best-equipped fighting force. Military recruiters and base commanders, under intense pressure from the war in Iraq to fill the ranks, often look the other way.

Neo-Nazis "stretch across all branches of service, they are linking up across the branches once they're inside, and they are hard-core," Department of Defense gang detective Scott Barfield told the Intelligence Report. "We've got Aryan Nations graffiti in Baghdad," he added. "That's a problem."

From the SPLC press release:

Large numbers of potentially violent neo-Nazis, skinheads and other white supremacists are now learning the art of warfare in the armed forces.

Department of Defense investigators estimate thousands of soldiers in the Army alone are involved in extremist or gang activity....

Military extremists present an elevated threat both to their fellow soldiers and the general public. Today's white supremacists become tomorrow's domestic terrorists.

"Neo-Nazi groups and other extremists are joining the military in large numbers so they can get the best training in the world on weapons, combat tactics and explosives," said Mark Potok, director of the SPLC's Intelligence Project.

"We should consider this a major security threat, because these people are motivated by an ideology that calls for race war and revolution. Any one of them could turn out to be the next Timothy McVeigh."

Becuase of the danger posed by racist extremists, the SPLC is urging the Defense Department to adopt 'a zero-tolerance policy regarding racist extremism among members of the U.S. military.'

I'm not sure I'd hold my breath waiting for this policy change if I were the SPLC. After all, we're talking about right-wing terrorists here. If there was a danger that left-wingers were learning the skills needed to become terrorists, it would be a different matter, I'm certain.

You can read the SPLC's complete report on racist extremists in the military if you go here.

| | Posted by Magpie at 10:06 AM | Get permalink




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