Dark Secret of the US Military -- Neo-Nazis and Criminals Are Filling Its Ranks
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He knew that the tattoo he had riding up his forearm could be a problem when it came to enlistment. In a neo-Nazi underworld obsessed with secrecy, racist tattoos remain one of the clearest indicators of extremism for a recruiter, and in an effort to police the matter, the US military requires recruits to explain any tattoos. "They just told me to write an explanation of each tattoo and I made up some stuff and that was that," he says.
Soon after Fogarty was approved, his ex-girlfriend and mother of his eldest child contacted the military. According to Fogarty, she sent a dossier of pictures to his military command that showed him at white supremacist and neo-Nazi rallies, as well as performing his racist rock with Attack. "They hauled me before some sort of committee, and showed me the pictures. I just denied it." The committee, he says, "knew what I was about, but they let it go because I'm a great soldier".
Fogarty remained in the reserves, until finally, in 2004, he was sent where he had always wanted to go: Iraq. Before he left for the Middle East, he joined the Hammerskin Nation – described by the Anti-Defamation League as the "the most violent and best-organised neo-Nazi skinhead group in the United States".
Fogarty maintains that a good portion of those around him were aware of his neo-Nazism. "They all knew in my unit," he says. "They would always kid around and say, 'Hey, you're that skinhead!'" He was confident enough of his carte blanche from the military that during his break from service in 2004, he flew not to see his family in the US but to Dresden, Germany, to give a concert to 2,500 skinheads, on the army's budget.
When he was at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Fogarty even says a sergeant came up to him and said, "You're one of those racist motherfuckers, aren't you?" I ask how the sergeant knew about his racism. "The tattoo, I suppose. I can't hide everything – people knew, even the chain of command."
Another white supremacist soldier, James Douglas Ross, a military intelligence officer stationed at Fort Bragg, was given a bad conduct discharge from the army when he was caught trying to mail a submachine gun from Iraq to his father's home in Spokane, Washington. Military police found a cache of white supremacist paraphernalia and several weapons hidden behind ceiling tiles in Ross's military quarters. After his discharge, a Spokane County deputy sheriff saw Ross passing out fliers for the neo-Nazi National Alliance. And in early 2012, a photo emerged of a 10-strong US marine scout sniper unit posing for a photo with a Nazi SS bolts flag in Sangin, Afghanistan. According to the military, the symbolism was unknown to the soldiers. "Certainly, the use of the 'SS runes' is not acceptable and scout snipers have been addressed concerning this issue," marine corps spokesman Captain Gregory Wolf said.
The magnitude of the problem within the military is hard to quantify. The military does not track extremists as a discrete category, coupling them with gang members, and those in the neo-Nazi movement claim different numbers. The National Socialist Movement claimed 190 of its members are inside. White Revolution claimed 12. In white supremacist incidents from 2001 to 2008, the FBI identified 203 veterans. Because the FBI focused only on reported cases, its numbers don't include the many extremist soldiers who have managed to stay off the radar. But its report does pinpoint why the white supremacist movements seek to recruit veterans – they "may exploit their accesses to restricted areas and intelligence or apply specialised training in weapons, tactics, and organisational skills to benefit the extremist movement". The report found that two army privates in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg had attempted in 2007 to sell stolen property from the military – including ballistic vests, a combat helmet, and pain medications such as morphine – to an undercover FBI agent they believed was involved with the white supremacist movement (they were convicted and sentenced to six years in prison). It also found multiple examples of white supremacist recruitment among active military personnel, including a period in 2003 when six active-duty soldiers at Fort Riley were found to be members of the neo-Nazi group Aryan Nations, working to recruit their army colleagues and even serving as the Aryan Nations' point of contact for the State of Kansas.