[pjw] NEWS: Four US generals attend anti-Muslim forum (Intercept 10/15)
Peace and Justice Works
pjw at pjw.info
Sun Oct 21 14:07:03 EDT 2018
Hi PJW supporters
We actually got tipped off to this story through the national police
abuse list serv over at Portland Copwatch, where they posted a piece by
the founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.
While it continues to be of concern that foot-soldiers of the bigoted
right wing agenda keep protesting and prompting street skirmishes in
Portland (and apparently are staying home in Vancouver to cause problems
this week by protesting against a gun safety ballot measure in
Washington), having this kind of explicit Islamophobia at such high levels
of the military is the kind of thing that empowers the local ignorance.
peace and justice works
Military Officials Aren't Supposed to Associate With Hate Groups. So Why
Are These Generals Speaking at Frank Gaffney's Confab?
Murtaza Hussain, Eli Clifton
October 15 2018, 12:00 p.m.
Over the past decade, the Center for Security Policy has emerged as one
of the most notoriously bigoted and conspiratorial think tanks in
Washington, D.C. Under its founder and president, Frank Gaffney, the
organization regularly found itself in the news for promoting
anti-Muslim conspiracies -- including farcically paranoid ones.
Yet, unlike similar organizations that remain on the political fringes,
the Center for Security Policy is remarkably close to the halls of
power -- not just to President Donald Trump, for whom Gaffney was an
informal adviser during the campaign, but also to the traditional power
brokers of the defense establishment.
That closeness will be put on display in Virginia on October 17, when
the Center for Security Policy will be co-hosting a symposium on
"asymmetric threats." Organized with the Institute for the Study of
War, the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, and the government
contractor CACI International (whose employees have been accused of
detainee torture in Iraq), the confab includes scheduled speakers
who are high-ranking officials in several branches of the military.
"Frankly speaking, this is a hate group. Its activities have been
documented for years and are well-known, but under this
administration, it is making a comeback."
The presence of those government officials is raising eyebrows.
"Frankly speaking, this is a hate group," said James Zogby, president
of the public policy research group the Arab American Institute, in
reference to the Center for Security Policy. "Its activities have been
documented for years and are well-known, but under this administration,
it is making a comeback."
In addition to Gaffney himself, the list of scheduled speakers includes
a number of high-ranking active duty military officials. The
anticipated participation of four active duty lieutenant generals --
the Air Force's VeraLinn "Dash" Jamieson and David. D. Thompson; Daniel
J. O'Donohue of the Marine Corps; and Michael K. Nagata of the Army --
at an event sponsored by Gaffney's group might stand in contrast to the
equal opportunity manuals issued by each of their respective service
The Air Force and Army did not respond to requests for comment. The
Marine Corps referred questions about the event to the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, who did not return a request for comment.
Little is usually made of the the armed services' policies on
associations with so-called extremist groups, but all the branches have
them. The codes received renewed attention after the participation of
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Vasillios Pistolis in last year's violent
white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Pistolis was
court-martialed and sentenced to a month in prison, docked pay, reduced
in rank, and discharged from the Corps upon his release.
The Army's equal opportunity manual warns that "participation in
extremist organizations and activities by Army personnel is
inconsistent with the responsibilities of military service." It defines
these "extremist" groups as follows:
Extremist organizations and activities are ones that advocate
racial, gender, or ethnic hatred or intolerance; advocate, create,
or engage in illegal discrimination based on race, color, gender,
religion, or national origin, or advocate the use of or use force or
violence or unlawful means to deprive individuals of their rights
under the United States Constitution or the laws of the United
States, or any State, by unlawful means.
The Army manual specifies that service personnel are "prohibited" from
"attending a meeting or activity with the knowledge that the meeting or
activity involves an extremist cause."
The Center for Security Policy's recent history is littered with calls
for religious discrimination; officials, right up through its
executives, routinely stoke hate against Muslims. A 2010 CSP report
described sharia, Muslim religious code, as "an alien legal system
hostile to and in contravention of the U.S. Constitution," and CSP Vice
President Clare Lopez claimed in a 2013 speech that "when Muslims
follow their doctrine, they become jihadists."
Gaffney, for his part, has explicitly called for the persecution of
observant Muslims, saying in a 2011 interview that that those who
follow Islamic religious code are practicing "an impermissible act of
sedition, which has to be prosecuted under our Constitution."
Though many of the Center for Security Policy's positions are shared
with the white nationalist movement, Gaffney is usually careful to
avoid associations with explicit white nationalists. But, in a few
instances, he has crossed paths with them. In 2015, Gaffney had
prominent white nationalist Jared Taylor on his radio show, "Secure
Freedom Radio." Gaffney praised Taylor's website, American
Renaissance, as "wonderful." In the interview, Taylor and Gaffney
decried the civilizational threat posed by Muslim refugees in Europe
and the U.S., and Gaffney said he "appreciated tremendously" the work
being undertaken by Taylor.
Gaffney ultimately scrubbed the interview from his website and
claimed to be "unfamiliar with Mr. Taylor's views on other matters
and did not discuss or endorse them."
Gaffney's promotion -- accidental or not -- of Taylor's work, alongside
the Center for Security Policy's track record of promoting
discrimination against a religion whose practices would otherwise be
constitutionally protected, appears to tick several of the boxes of a
group falling under the Army's definition of an "extremist
The other military branches share similar policies.
The Air Force's equal opportunity manual informs commanders and
supervisors that participating in groups "espousing supremacist causes
or advocating unlawful discrimination" is a violation of the Air
Force's equal opportunity policies. And the Marine Corps directs
Marines must reject participation in organizations that espouse
supremacist causes; attempt to create illegal discrimination based
on race, creed, color, sex, religion, or national origin; advocate
the use of force or violence; or otherwise engage in efforts to
deprive individuals of their civil rights.
The officers attending the Center for Security Policy-sponsored
conference aren't declaring themselves members of the group or even
explicitly endorsing the organization's anti-Muslim statements. And
there's no indication that Gaffney or any other Center of Security
Policy staff will discuss their efforts to discriminate against Muslims
or spread anti-Muslim conspiracy theories at a conference about cyber
defense, defense technologies, and procurement.
But the Center for Security Policy's history of promoting conspiracy
theories and advocating various forms of discrimination against
practicing Muslims appears to fall squarely within the military's
definitions of the sort of "extremist group" with which active duty
members of the military are forbidden from associating.
Those who have spent years monitoring the Center for Security Policy
say the group's continued prominence under the Trump administration is
troubling, though unsurprising.
"I don't expect people in the Trump administration to push back against
this group, given that they share many of its views," said Zogby. "The
only leverage we have is to continue to speak out about their
influence, which is like a cancer eating away at government from the
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