A member of the Southern Poverty Law Center suggested that a database of extremist tattoos be created as one way to stem the “growing” problem of white supremacy in the military.
Heidi Beirich, the SPLC’s Intelligence Project Director, testified by the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel’s hearing on white supremacy in the military on Tuesday, claiming “the problem of white supremacists in the ranks is a serious and growing one.”
Besides screening potential recruits for tattoos, Beirich also suggested the Defense Department devise procedures to investigate social media accounts and ways to online activities of active duty personnel.
The Southern Poverty Law Center is a Montgomery, Alabama-based organization that bills itself as a civil rights group, but has been criticized for identifying groups such as the pro-life Family Research Council in Washington as a “hate group.”
Beirich’s was one of two SLPC members to testify before the subcommittee, joining Lecia Brooks, who said the white supremacist movement in the United States is “surging” and that officials “with clear sympathies for white nationalist ideology are allowed to serve in the White House.”
SPLC wants military to screen recruits for white supremacist tattoos
She accused military officials of “at times are ignoring—either willfully or through neglect—clear signs of extremist activist among service members.”
Beirich began her comments by associating white supremacy with Timothy McVeigh, the former Army veteran who was convicted for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing of the Murrah Federal Building which killed 168 people.
McVeigh, who was executed in 2001, stated his motives as revenge for the government siege of a religious cult in Waco, Texas, two years earlier, the Ruby Ridge siege in 1992 and American foreign policy.
“Many of us know of former soldiers with extremist views that have gone on to commit serious acts of terrorism,” she said. “Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma City is the one that most people think of.”
Neither Beirich nor Brooks made any mention of Army Maj. Nidal Hasan in their remarks about extremism.
Hasan, a practicing Muslim who corresponded with Al-Queda senior recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki, killed 13 people in a mass shooting at Fort Hood in Texas in 2009, in what the U.S. Senate as the “worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001,” and the Pentagon classified as “workplace violence.”