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In Today’s Army, Neo-Nazis Are In But LGBT People Are Out

Jim Burroway

June 16th, 2009
Iraq veteran Forrest Fogarty sailed through recruitment despite his neo-Nazi tattoos (Photo: Matt Kennard/Salon)

Iraq veteran Forrest Fogarty sailed through recruitment despite his neo-Nazi tattoos (Photo: Matt Kennard/Salon)

This is what is so particularly galling about the foot-dragging and finger-pointing going on between President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid over repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” While more than two hundred American servicemembers have been discharged from the armed forces in a time of war since the start of the Obama administration simply for being honest about who they are, neo-Nazis — complete with neo-Nazi tattoos and criminal records — are sailing right on through.  This is Forrest Fogarty. He decided to become a Nazi at the age of fourteen:

For the next six years, Fogarty flitted from landscaping job to construction job, neither of which he’d ever wanted to do. “I was just drinking and fighting,” he says. He started his own Nazi rock group, Attack, and made friends in the National Alliance, at the time the biggest neo-Nazi group in the country. It has called for a “a long-term eugenics program involving at least the entire populations of Europe and America.”

But the military ran in Fogarty’s family. His grandfather had served during World War II, Korea and Vietnam, and his dad had been a Marine in Vietnam. At 22, Fogarty resolved to follow in their footsteps. “I wanted to serve my country,” he says.

Army regulations prohibit soldiers from participating in racist groups, and recruiters are instructed to keep an eye out for suspicious tattoos (PDF: 188 KB/25 pages). Before signing on the dotted line, enlistees are required to explain any tattoos. At a Tampa recruitment office, though, Fogarty sailed right through the signup process. “They just told me to write an explanation of each tattoo, and I made up some stuff, and that was that,” he says. Soon he was posted to Fort Stewart in Georgia, where he became part of the 3rd Infantry Division. [Hyperlink in the original]

Fogarty’s ex-girlfriend even tried to disrupt his military career by sending photos of him at Nazi rallies and performing in his band. The military brought him before a commission and he was asked to explain himself. But despite the photographic evidence, he denied the charges and the commission refused to take any further action. He went on to serve as a military policeman in Iraq, where he learned to add yet another group to his long list of people to hate: Arabs. “Them and the Jews are just disgusting people as far as I’m concerned,” he told Salon’s Matt Kennard.

Conservative talk radio and Fox News howled with protest when a Homeland Security assessment on right-wing extremism warned about a very tiny minority of military veterans joining extremist groups after leaving the military (PDF: 2MB/10 pages). Pundits demanded — and got — an apology from Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano. But all of that attention ignored the fact that in 2005, the Defense Department concluded that the military had become a training ground for these very same extremists (PDF: 672KN136 pages):

Effectively, the military has a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy pertaining to extremism. If individuals can perform satisfactorily, without making their extremist opinions overt through words or actions that violate policy, reflect poorly on the Armed Forces, or disrupt the effectiveness and order of their units, they are likely to be able to complete their contracts.

Except there isn’t a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy with respect to extremism — at least not in a way that LGBT servicemembers would recognize it. The “Don’t Ask” part of the anti-gay policy is routinely violated by military investigators. Many LGBT servicemembers were identified via their use of LGBT web sites, yet the mlitary doesn’t do any sort of organized internet screening for supremacists among Nazi or Klan websites and forums. They also don’t follow-up when presented with evidence that a servicemember is a member of a Nazi or Klan-style organization.

Furthermore, right-wing extremists routinely flaunt the “Don’t Tell” part of the policy with no repercussions. Fogarty revealed that other members of his outfit knew about his Nazi affiliations, but it just became something of a joke among fellow soldiers and commanding officers. A police officer in Fayetteville, North Carolina who used to be a paratrouper at nearby Fort Bragg said this:

[Hunter] Glass says white supremacists now enjoy an open culture of impunity in the armed forces. “We’re seeing guys with tattoos all the time,” he says. “As far as hunting them down, I don’t see it. I’m seeing the opposite, where if a white supremacist has committed a crime, the military stance will be, ‘He didn’t commit a race-related crime.’”

Fogarty left the military in 2005 with an honorable discharge.

A 2008 FBI report on White supremacists in the Military (PDF: 118 KB/14 pages) found:

Military experience—ranging from failure at basic training to success in special operations forces—is found throughout the white supremacist extremist movement. FBI reporting indicates extremist leaders have historically favored recruiting active and former military personnel for their knowledge of firearms, explosives, and tactical skills and their access to weapons and intelligence in preparation for an anticipated war against the federal government, Jews, and people of color. FBI cases also document instances of active duty military personnel having volunteered their professional resources to white supremacist causes.

…A review of FBI white supremacist extremist cases from October 2001 to May 2008 identified 203 individuals with confirmed or claimed military service active in the extremist movement at some time during the reporting period. This number is minuscule in comparison with the projected US veteran population of 23,816,000 as of 2 May 2008, or the 1,416,037 active duty military personnel as of 30 April 2008. It is also a small percentage of an estimated US white supremacist extremist population, which, based on FBI investigations, currently numbers in the low thousands. However, the prestige which the extremist movement bestows upon members with military experience grants them the potential for influence beyond their numbers. Most extremist groups have some members with military experience, and those with military experience often hold positions of authority within the groups to which they belong.

From the FBI report, "White Supremacist Recruitment of Military Personnel since 9/11." Click to enlarge.

From the FBI report, "White Supremacist Recruitment of Military Personnel since 9/11." Click to enlarge.

Fifty-eight of the 2003 individuals identified by the FBI were members of the National Alliance, the group where Fogerty got his start before joining the military. Another 44 of the 203 individuals were members of the National Socialist Movement, the same group which protested at PrideFest in Springfield, Missouri over the weekend. The FBI report describes the National Socialist Movement as being relatively stable and cohesive. They have also been very successful with their strategic decision to target returning Iraq war veterans for recruitment:

In contrast to the NA [National Alliance] and other white supremacist groups, the NSM—although not immune to factionalism—enjoyed a greater degree of stability during the post-9/11 period and benefited from the membership exoduses of other struggling organizations. This relative stability included a sustained campaign to recruit current and former military personnel overseen by a respected figure in the extremist movement and unverified former Marine, who left leadership roles in the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and Aryan Nations (AN) to become a Colonel in the NSM and Director of its “Stormtroopers” (the NSM’s security force) from 2002 until his retirement in December 2007. The NSM’s military structure also adds to its recruitment success by offering a familiar organizational context for veterans, including a system of rank that serves as an incentive for joining the group. In addition, NSM literature has outlined the development of a Special Projects Division consisting of “Werewolf Units” intended for special military operations and with a membership favoring those with military backgrounds.

According to sensitive and reliable source reporting in October 2006, the NSM received a number of queries from active duty Army and Marine personnel stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan expressing interest in joining the organization or inquiring about chapters located near domestic US military bases. This report followed—and was consistent with—December 2005 source reporting on the NSM stressing the need to place units close to military bases nationwide in order to recruit military personnel. Whether as a result of group recruitment efforts or self-recruitment by active military personnel sympathetic to white supremacist extremist causes, FBI information derived from reliable, multiple sources documents white supremacist extremist activity occurring at some military bases.

Read the whole article by Salon’s Matt Kennard. It’s an amazing eye-opener. It describes supremacist leaders encouraging members to enlist in the military so that they can be trained at taxpayer expense for what they see as a coming “race war,” which is central to their beleifs.

Comments

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Lou Donohoe
June 16th, 2009 | LINK

Jim:

It’s not just right wing extremists and supremacists that are joining up. Many police agencies have reported known gag members joining up as well; Crips, Bloods, Latin Kings, and the like. That makes law enforcement in gang territory even more difficult. LEOs aren’t trained or equipped to deal with street gangs using military tactics and weapons.

The recruitment of these sorts is a direct result of lowering the enlistment standards by the Pentagon to try and hold personnel levels where they need them.

I would think a neo-Nazi or a Latin King would be far more disruptive to readiness and unit cohesion than most any LGBT who wanted to serve this country.

Sad and scary.

Race, Racism & White Supremacy: Link Roundup | racismreview.com
June 19th, 2009 | LINK

[...] the infiltration of the army by neo-nazis, first reported by Salon this week.  Jim Burroway at Box Turtle points out the irony of a military that is happy to include white supremacists but not openly LGBT [...]

Debating the US Military | Timothy Richard Green
December 29th, 2010 | LINK

[...] http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2009/06/16/12162 [...]

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