Army claims hate groups in uniform not as big a problem as portrayed
August 9th, 2012
11:34 PM ET

Army claims hate groups in uniform not as big a problem as portrayed

By Larry Shaughnessy

In the wake of the massacre at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, a number of reports emerged that the gunman was a former soldier who embraced the white supremacist movement during his time in the Army more than a decade ago.

Wade Michael Page served at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, from 1995 until he left the Army in 1998. A criminologist who interviewed Page told CNN that's where he became a white supremacist.

"What he told me during the course of our time together was that he really started to identify with the neo-Nazism during his time in the military," Pete Simi, a Univerisity of Nebraska criminologist told CNN recently. "He (Page) really started getting into during his time in the military."

But the Army Thursday said extremism in the military is not as widespread as the Page case might seem to indicate.

"We do not deny there are some gang and extremist-group-related activity and association within the Army community, and we take that very seriously," Army spokesman Paul Prince wrote in an e-mail to CNN.

"However the numbers indicate it is an extremely small percentage of Soldiers... associated with felony-level criminal misconduct linked to gang or "hate group-type" crimes."

Prince wrote that the Criminal Investigation Command (CID), the Army's main law enforcement unit, tracks hate crimes and gang activity. The CID, he said, says the threat of such activity in the Army is "LOW."

Prince said that out of 10,200 felony criminal investigations by the CID in 2011, 45 were "related to gangs and extremists... Only 0.7% of all CID felony investigations had suspected gang or extremist involvement."

After the 1995 murder case involving the three Fort Bragg soldiers, the Army appointed a task force to investigate the extent of white supremacists in its ranks and also started including training against extremism.

According to the Department of Defense website, the task force visited 28 installations and interviewed more than 7,500 soldiers. It found that less than 1% said they had seen soldiers or civilian employees involved with extremist groups.

But Simi recalled that when he talked to Page, Page told him, "If you join the military and you're not a racist, then you certainly will be by the time you leave."

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Filed under: Army • Army CID • Military
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. topgun

    This is sick and the news media is trying to down play something so serious. I'am a former soldier now retired after 20 years. Racism is so strong in the military that it is the best place for a person with racist views to live a racist life spreading their views to young soldiers. They use the military to act out on their racist views in the form of violence, prejudice, favoritism etc.... I was a senior leader in the army and I had many young white soldiers come to me and say that their leader use the N word and talk about how they wouldn’t help a black person if they were shot, they would let them bleed out. I reported this behavior and this is the army’s way of handling it. The 1st Sergeant and the Company Commander called a meeting with all the black soldiers and demanded that someone tell who reported this type of behavior. The point of this post is to correct CNN for reporting that it is the leader’s responsibility to stop this type of behavior. That’s hard to do when the leaders are the ones spearheading this racist behavior. Many minorities in the Military are scared to speak out against them because they will be punished. Just to add to any leaders out there who reads this, just because a white soldier hangs up a rebel flag their room doesn’t make them a racist. Get to know your soldiers and take the time to listen to them. That is why so many soldiers came to me( black or white) with their concerns because I listened and learned about them.

    August 18, 2012 at 7:45 am | Reply
  2. Ann

    George Patton...yes I agree. Moreover, its all a matter of definitions. I can say from my own experience, that the military environment can be pretty hostile to anyone who may is not "mainstream" however this may be defined. Anyone who does not fit the mold may have a very hard time. The military environment may simply have a high tolerance for intolerance...just as what point does pushing someone to the edge (for discipline purpose) turn into bullying? At what point does conformity turn into intolerance? At some point our military was an agent for integration, today I would say it is no longer one, but has turned into a welcoming environment for individuals with very strong, one-sided world-views....its sad.

    August 10, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Reply
  3. boyscout

    The military and the prison systems and religion are the places where hate groups are most successful in indoctrinating followers. It has almost always been this way. There are good people and bad people and there are people so engrossed in the fear of unknown because others are different or because others do not do things the same way, etc and this is where the hatred stems from. If we all followed the same basic rules and removed the fear and attempted to get along what a world we could live in.

    August 10, 2012 at 11:03 am | Reply
    • Trevor

      The U.S. military has zero tolerance for hate groups, hence the reason why all these folks are "ex" military...they knew they couldn't express their views while on duty or even around their fellow servicemembers off duty (unless those folks had the same veiw). If leadership within the military ever found out about their views they would be reprimanded and removed from duty because those views violate every Service's Core Values. These folks weren't sucessfully "indoctrinated" by hate groups with the military's knowledge. They were either "indoctrinated" prior to entry and hence the reason why they didn't last long, or were recuited and/or indoctrinated post service because of the their military "skills" appeals to these violent groups.

      August 10, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Reply
  4. George Patton

    Why do you think so many young men join the army in the first place? Many were trained by their parents to hate certain ethnic groups from a very early age. For instance, today children are being taught that Islam is pure evil and needs to be crushed. The very same was true during the 1950's about Communism. Like I said, ignorance breeds fear, fear breeds hate and hate breeds fanaticism.

    August 10, 2012 at 8:10 am | Reply
    • charles

      I totally agree with ignorance breeds hate. With education and experience brings tolerance,understanding and peace!!

      August 11, 2012 at 9:14 am | Reply
  5. hmmm

    Yeah, I remember some nation of islam people walking around with some pretty militant views in my old unit. However, I also remember a hillbilly with a rebel flag on his side of the room, bunking with a black guy with a malcolm x poster on the other side of the room getting along well and drinking beer taking turns playing country an hip hop on the weekends. All in all soldiers tend to bury their differences more than they do in civilian life. This guy was a failure who was looking for something to identify himself with to make himself feel special.

    August 10, 2012 at 4:12 am | Reply
  6. NN

    Criminal Investigation Command does not abbreviate to C.I.D. And 10,200 felony criminal investigations in a single year and in the Army alone???? That's horrific! No wonder we have all these wild abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    August 9, 2012 at 11:54 pm | Reply
    • SPC Robert Rasmussen

      CID used be U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division, hence the acronym CID... then they changed it to U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command in like the '80s or '90s, but kept the CID acronym in order to avoid confusion. I remember as a kid my dad was the Commander of a Mechanized Rifle Company at Fort Riley from 1995-1997. During that time frame was the peak of neo-nazism and the whole race war concept filtering around the Army. The Army doesn't want to bring that up, because they rigorously sought to eradicate it... and did. My dad told me about how he was trained to identify soldiers under his command displaying racist behavior, and then begin the process of removing them from the Army. By the late '90s this trend was on the downswing. As for 10,200 felony criminal investigations in the Army there are two things to take into account. The first is that there are charges that are felonies under the Uniform Code of Military Justice that are felonies that would be misdemeanors in the civilian world, and the second is that out of 2.1 million individuals in uniform, if we assume that 10,200 are investigating committing felonies and 3x that number are comitting felonies (tip of iceberg), that is only 30,600 indivudals, which is 1.46% of the population, or 1,438 service members for every 100,000. Considering the going rate of aggressive sociopaths in general population is 2%, and that they should be disproportionately drawn to military organizations due to their nature, that is not terribly bad at all.

      August 10, 2012 at 8:38 am | Reply
      • Lee

        You sir are the proof that smart people do come to CNN. Thank you,

        August 10, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
      • J

        "rigorously sought to eradicate it... and did" You were misled on that... Its still very prominent and the Army is well aware of it.

        August 10, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • ken carboni

      Dont forget NN there are many abuses overseas because we have privatized the military.It has often been corporate (so called contract)security who make errors,not NAT guardsmen or regulars.This actualy is a obscurred part of the operations.Private companies should not take military jobs period.They get better pay,often better comforts,and even take high tech skill training away from regular service personell,but when they screw up regulars often take repracussions.Blackwater has training facilities that were operating on this countries soil,and no such organized private paramilitary group should be operating within our borders.They are a disgraceful insult to the military regulars ,and I blame the politicians who allowed it more than any of those who actualy particapate.We are not talking about driving trucks I mean corpratres should never be in charge of security or private armed squads.

      August 10, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Reply

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