tv Discussion on White Supremacy in Law Enforcement Military CSPAN October 4, 2021 10:41pm-11:29pm EDT
it's a pleasure to be here today for someone to i >> thank you so much for being here today. first went to introduce the panelists. starting with senator johnson went to welcome former us senator from alabama, senator jones who will be one of the two panelist of today's conversation. that he was attorney for alabama he successfully prosecuted to kkk members for their role in the 196,316th street baptist church bombing and an advocate to the career and has joined cap action as a distinguished single fellow focusing on social justice issues and democracy reform. i'm excited to welcome kathy brown from the fourth congressional district representative brown sits on the house armed services committee on veterans affairs and transportation orinfrastructure also cochair of
the new democratic coalition for national security task force retired colonel in the u.s. army reserve in a military record spanning more than a quarter-century as an aviator and jagged officer and awarded the bronze star for his distinguished military service. and then withinck armed services. to begin the conversation violent white supremacy currently is one the most lethal threat to american democracy and security. senator jones the prosecuted one the most infamous hate crimes in american history now a senior fellow here and he worked on the scene that recently released a comprehensive national blueprint to and white supremacist violence. can you talk about the key federal actions needed for white supremacist activities within the government
institution? >> thinks nicole and everyone for joining us today especially the congressman for c being here this is such an important conversation and a national policy blueprint is very important it is the recognition so talking about this in today's world and in light of everything that is goingee on that is one of the most significant developments in the last year. hang leading that effort and there is any number of things and i would encourage those that are watching today if you have not gone on the website to see this blueprint please do that. spread it around because it encompasses so many good recommendations but also provides the basis for where we arere today. we have to do a relatively simple but the devil is in the
details. and so for instance it is incumbent upon doj to establish some of federal advisory committees and needs to be a whole of government approach to develop policies and guidelines to implement strategies that is the key to implemento strategies and to help law-enforcement across the spectrum federal state and local to mitigate any white supremacist action and to talk haabout extremist action and that is true but we wish talk about violence in a larger context. but we would be remiss if we did not talkem about white supremacy and then acknowledge that is the most significant threat that we face from extremist violence. we need to update. we need to talk about the department of defense and their process in order to prevent infiltration and detect white supremacist extremism and the associated
risk. all members of the military today will also be veterans one day. and between the two groups , the infiltration of white extremist is extremely troubling we have seen it time and time again and i think it starts with the department ofar defense and the veterans affairs it can develop a strategy to do more on questionnaires and return on —- recurring background checks the military on the one hand is very rigid but on the other hand also for a purpose. and with that comes the ability to monitor better than any other department within the federal government. 's we have to update and clarify the departments programs and work on making sure their policies and expectations and their training and enforcement policies all our rooted were
based to root out extremism. lastly, we cannot talk about the military about the department of veterans affairs so all those with veterans these days it is are serious issue with regard toen mental health and access toic mental health and veteran suicide but that begins in part with the department of defense of so happy to be here today i'm glad each of you joined us today but i am especially proud to share this virtual stage with my friend congressman brown from marilyn. and then to keep the country safe from foreign and domestic extremism and to make a goal of extremism in the military. he served on the armed
services committee something you are passionate about our like you to talk to us about your bill and the prospects of this type of legislation coming from congress not just the executive branch. >> thank you senator jones and the decades of service to a nation in the justice department taking on one of the most significant civil rights cases in the history of our country thank you for your service in the u.s. senate and it is a delight to be here with you this afternoon this morning virtually. thank you to cap action for inviting me. having spent 30 years in the military, i do know the threat our country faces is not just
a threat on distant battlefields from foreign adversaries from terrace. i know that you know that is that nationalri strategy blueprint with white extremist is a greatly appreciated document. we knowwha for decades now more than a century we have been grappling with extremist ideology within her own community. homegrown and even in theks military ranks. so what i set out to do a partnership with my colleagues in the house. the denigrated by 66 percent
by 2021 the dod reported 2022 congress to identify extremist recruitment in the dod is a real threat. so we say that department needs greater authority and greater tools so in a nutshell the bare-bones outline is first we clarify the secretary of defense has the authority to exclude from participation inhe the military and to separate from military service anyone who notot only participates in extremist but as a member of the extremist organization. it's important to go after the membership pieces as well and me will talk more about that with the firsthe amendment implication that we clarify that authority and direct the secretary to find extremism.
to find the procedures that are fair to identify and eliminate those numbers. but a lot of this quite frankly overlaps as a blueprint it is data collection. which extremism exists. and those degree of responses and some commanders that others say yes we have a serious problem. so we do data collection and reporting. and analysis so it is important we train everyone from the private to the four-star adderall and general it means by extremism how do we promote the values, our values against which extremism isre inconsistent so training is
very important. and the final piece, and that training isn't just for military but those whoho will be transitioning out of the military. and then theth final piece is to develop an institutional capacity with the monitoring and training and education. and that exist in america. and then military would be the object, not the subject and the target of extremist groups that want to recruit from the military. to get the training and experience the military provides to its members with the purpose of defending our nation not to the extremist organization so as longg as that exist in this country we need that institutional capacity within the dod to
fight the good fight against extremism. >> let t me ask you about the data collection is an important part of the blueprint. because from someone and we have thousands agencies out there to report no hate crimes whatsoever. and having been a local prosecutor, sometimes we can understand they don't want to be tagged with that but data collection, without the data we are facing an uphill battle to try to root this out. it is pretty rigid and a lot of deniability there for the same reason. so tell meel a little bit how this bill with the data
collection and can you get the department of defense buy-in to try to make sure the datapr is collected appropriately? because we have seen even with sexual crimes and harassment d issues within the department of defensese there has been a low-level data collection. how do we make this better when it comes to white supremacy and extremism with the department of defense? >> i will start by saying that it will be a challenge it will be an uphill battle. regrettably to get the department of defense to work with congress on this issue. when it comes to issues, other than the level of funding and other procurement it when it comes to support the force of military families and personnel we always find it much more difficult.
and then to address those disparities. and then unfortunately it addresses extremism and then the department just recently sent their policy statement to congress with the provisions that are in the house version of the 5022 defense authorization act addressing extremism. one of the items they identify as onerous is the reporting requirements. everyone who is looking atnd this issue understands is critical and fundamental to get after the problem so i'm hoping we can d work with the department with what their true concerns are. but some of the things we are looking at andn not reporting
even before this year, we have to approve things like the questionnaires in the surveys conducted every year. and acting servicemembers so to understand the prevalence and the frequency of what it looks like and the other piece is encouraging the dod to work with other agencies of homeland security, doj, fbi in sharing the information to harmonize with that database looks like. literally down to the feel that you can populate in a database so the information can be easily shared and analyzed. also to have the department update and publicize and report to congress on the data they are collecting.
of how many instances are reported not only in the survey but disciplinary action. but whether it is separation or administrativeon action. it with a code of military justice but probably only then do we have a full understanding of the scope of the problem in the military. >> congressman, i have never seen any government agency or private sector people that want tod create data. i think what you are doing is too important and you laid out exactly why data collection is important across the board. >> iat just want to do again some more with this interesting conversation of data collection and conversation. you referenced voluntary
reporting regarding hate crimes in law enforcement. so can you talk more about the challenges of getting law enforcement data into communicate and ask communities? >> it is extremely challenging. and at one point there was a component about the communities themselves. and so that and they believe that it reflects badly on their community. with the mayors and county commissioner and chief of police they don't want their communities and the hate crime community. and then to really collect this. so you would think we were just a bastion of equality and
diversity in alabama and we know that's not the case. and with those political dynamics with the extremism on the right and on the left last week at the national association of attorneys general the dc attorney general had an incredible conference there were a number of folks who did not come because they felt it was a political issue targeting them on the right. on the political right. so the challenge now is both a practical challenge of law enforcement the community themselves but also there is a political dynamic as well where people will will not look but one way or the other. that is something we've got to get over and get past that.
>> you both have distinguished careers in law enforcement or the military. representative, can you talk about your engagement with evveteran communities with the legislation you have done in can you talk about how those constituencies are with those reforms you are outlining? >> we have done a number of things. . . . . based on discuse
military and we deferred to the military. it's our understanding they are working with the department of justice in coming up with a definition that would withstand constitutional scrutiny or challenge. also in those conversations we deferred to the department to establish the procedures, and i will add that both democrats and republicans have been harping on thisea with the military. tell us what procedures will be if in fact you are separating members because of extremist ideology or behavior so instead of defining that, which we were ready to do in congress, we deferred to the military. we've engaged academics and various advocacy groups.
we've done a lot of work in this area so we really try to attack into the best understanding and best practices and the best approach to giving these tools to the military because i truly view them as tools to perform their mission. the primaryhe mission is to detr the war and when it fails to fight and when that next war. sometimes in all of that effort to focus on winning that war, we sometimes forget about the men and women and families in uniform, so this is an opportunity to say let's not forget about the good and bad and in different. take the tools and authorities and put them to good use because we do not want the military to be undermined by extremists nor
do we want extremist groups to use the military and military memberar participation as a propaganda tool for further regrouping. >> i think it's so important with what congressman brown isnt doing that this comes from congress. this comes from the house and the senate. it needs to be and all of government approach and on the department of defense for sure and the executive branch that comes and goes and congress needs to step up and stand up and speak up on this because it will be both right and left extremism. white supremacy is the biggest issue in the military and across the country when it comes to violence and domestic terrorists. but the fact is all of these can
be applied to root out extremism and i think it's important what the congressman is doing with regards to the congress. just like last year we put in language to make sure the department of defense went through the issue of renaming bases and other assets named for confederate generals and officers. this is similar to that for the department of defense to let them know congress is serious. >> and let me also add to pick up on that sort of whole of government approach, we have mentioned now at least twice the national strategy that the administration recently published on addressing the counter domestic extremism with a premium focused priority on
that whole of government approach. not just the department of defense or department of justice. its homeland security, veteran affairs, health and human services because there's some aspects when we talk about how you go to the underlining causes of extremism behavior and ideology and if you are going to go after those it takes a whole of government approach, not just the federal government working and tribal local working also with international partners.. that's why we are talking about the domestic terrorism and extremism that's originating. we are beginning to see sort of transnational affiliation. think about the rising fashions in germany and austria to name two countries in europe, so it's
a whole of government approach and that has certainly been the focus of the biden administration and also of congress. >> thank you for mentioning that white house strategy. it's a good thingg to end on. a question for both o of you, tt white house strategy led by ambassador susan rice was partnering with societies to tackle the root causes of the supremacy including in the military but across society so what do you think are some ofs the key actions for the council to consider and similarly what is necessary for congress to do with this bill orgr the next to tackle this in the discussion? >> i will let you tackle that first. someme of the things we've alrey
talked about, collecting information and making sure that it's shared broadly i know for example, congress' response to the january 6th insurrection similar to look at information sharing across the government or more broadly extremism and i do think now the strategy calls for greater resources not only the prevention of domestic terrorism but also the prosecution and to make sure all of the u.s. attorneys and all of our state attorneys general's are reading off the same sheet of music and coordinating their efforts. i know senator jonesus would knw much more about that than i do
in the investigation but also, and i did mention this earlier because i knew this to be one of the important pillars of the strategy with the issues that contribute to domestic terrorism what is perpetuating the hatred andd the division that we live n a zero-sum economy so how do we foster a equality of opportunity where everyone feels like they have a fair shot at the american dream. those are some of the a things e are working on and congress stands ready to support the initiatives coming outut of the domestic policy council and any other branch of government willing to work together to address domestic terrorism.
>> those are all perfect. and i've got to be honest with you. we are very proud of the fact that so much of the blueprint for doing this is taken from the work we did at the institute because it is a recognition of the en issue. what essentially we are doing is trying to leverage the executive branch and united states government to enhance the unresponsibilities across the government to both state and federal. you've got to prioritize and i think that that is happening. for too long this was kind of written off as a spotty problem here and there but now we are seeing that this is a priority because in part this is a national security issue. there's no question so we've got
to elevate this threat and we've got to enhance cooperation. you do it by working together with the local law enforcement and on occasion you've got federal funding to go to the states, the local communities and state investigative authorities. you can infuse that leverage a good bit to get them on board with the other priorities. we talk about the data. that's an important part of the recommendations. but the qualitative data is so important. the congressman mentioned protecting communities and crimes. that's important. sometimes prosecutors get hung up on the prosecution angle and that's important to call the crime out for what it is because
it sends an incredible message atbut protecting the community s much more than that them simply and after the fact prosecution and allegedly determined. what you have to do is work with communities for transparency to getsp education out and educate the public about what is going on and educate people about the problems and dealing with mental health issues. never underestimate the mental health part of this and finally these are in part lone wolves tbut in large part they are getting morere organized every day. we saw with what happened january 6th. while we have to balance the first amendment, we've also got
theme necessary financial tools. that's how the clan got damaged back in the 1980s when the southern poverty law center filed a lawsuit and not only got a judgment that broke them financially. we have to make sure we have the ability to go after them financially and prosecuteer the lcrimes even in a civil context. finally, i think we have to recognize, and this is going to be perhaps one of the biggest challenges the social media platforms and technology companies bear some responsibility to their public and to theirir users as well. last night we were seeing the 60 minute show with regards to the facebook whistleblower and i'm not going to make any allegations one way or another on that, but i will say we've got to balance this and get the technology companies and social media platforms engaged in this
because it can be a blessing and a curse and dangerous. so again, thank you for this great discussion and again i want to encourage everybody that is interested in this to take a look at the website. the blueprint is an outstanding piece of work. >> i'm going to introduce another senior fellow to start addressing some of the audience questions. the first question from the audience that ice will direct, given your expertise and contribution can you talk about whether the administration is taking extremism particularly white supremacy seriously and what actions.
>> the national security threat and really coming up with a strategy. having said that, they need help with congress and civilel sociey and need help in general. we need to keep the focus on this threat. go to reporting makes a difference. society activism to shut down online recruitment and the platform the senator said makes a big difference and having congress be active in looking at a solution as the representative is doing is crucial to making sure we make progress. >> another question from the audience and i will direct to both of you.
first question what do you see as the relationship between racism and white supremacy in r the military and how successful have they been in moving out racism? >> let me start off by saying by extremism nationalism is the predominant component and threat that we currently face and it's not new in the immediate aftermath of the civil war. thinking proud boys today. by extremism, we are not limiting it to those motivated by racial hatred, religious or ethnic. it also includes those that just
want to disrupt and overturn government. think g january 6th. there were many people in that insurrection that have no affiliation whatsoever with these white supremacist white nationalist groups. timothy mcveigh, when you think about hisra experience, he was associatedoc with white supremacist groups and of the primary motive is he doesn't want to disrupt government. he saw the government as overreach. and then of course you have some extremists who are sort of single issue minded whether they are acting out on their views about abortion or environmental issues or animal-rights. you see extremist behavior as well in those single issue oriented people. but yes, white supremacy nationalism is the primary driver that we are seeing in the
military and across the country. that's why fbi director ray spoke to congress about that. that's why secretary defense secretary austin ordered to stand down earlier this year and general millie has spoken accurately and appropriately in thehi military. it's important to get our hands around it. you haves senior commanders that have literally said before congress extremism doesn't exist in my formation and we know that's wrong statistically speaking it's inaccurate. so, they are committed to the extremism and they need to do better data collectionon and training so it's really incumbent upon them if they are going to be consistent with the commitment to address the commitment with where congress
wants to go on this issue. we've got to work together, congress and the department to get after extremism. survey after survey shows that in the military the service members are experiencing more and more racism, anti-semitism in language conduct so the problem exists. we've got to get after it and they need the tools and to accept that. >> part of this problem we just have to be very candid part of this problem in the military is a reflection on parts of the society as a whole. as the country becomes more diverse, there are people that are fearful of that. they felt they are part of a dominant class and if they feel they are not going to be, they strike out.
that's true because the military and the hierarchy, the superior officers to let folks know we are all in this country together and our military is to support everyone and to protect this democracy that we cherish so much. >> you've both spoken quite a bit about the policies, training, data and collection that need to change in the military and law enforcement to root out extremism and have military law enforcement that lives up to its reputation and serves everybody in america. itbo keeps everybody safe. what kind of resources are required and is there currently sufficient resources to implement these policies or would more be required? >> i would be happy to take that
up first. i stated this publicly to the secretary defense austin for the operation in afghanistan i took it as an opportunity to make a statement about extremism in the military and while i commended both of them for their actions to address it in the departments commission, training requirements and data collection are over it. we have now three of the four committees that are responsible for the level of defense spending in the house setting. three of the four to authorize and appropriate an additional $25 billion to the department of defense this year above the
budget request. so you can't tell me that the data collection is onerous. you can't tell me that the training is onerous. you've got the resources. we are giving you the authorities. it's about doing difficult things and that's what this is. it's difficult. i have no doubt about that but it certainly is not because of a lack of resources both training and data collection. the resources are there. a. >> it's important that i think peoplele realize the resources n this particular instance or important for the department of defense but in a broader context we need to have either a reallocation of some of the resources or additional resources that goes to the department of education. for the states and the communities to the nonprofit organizations that are out there
that are trying to elevate this atissue and to root out this cae as well as again we talk about a whole of government we need to have a whole of country approach as well because most so many things can start at that local allevel. our families and communities and schools so when we are talking about resources we need to be thinking about that as well. those folks will end up in the military but if we've already educated them and got them in a position to where they are not going to be susceptible, we have achieved a monumental goal at that point and have gone a long way to diminish the role of extremism in the military. >> if i may add one other important area if you look at january 6th insurrection it's alarming. i see different numbers anywhere from 16% to 20% of those at the
prior military experience. studies have shown the attraction of these organizations as it gives veterans who now have left the military, the structure, the regimen, the purpose they see in extremist organizations that sort of substitute community so we've got to stay engaged with our veterans and stay involved in activities addressing their health needs, emotional, behavioral and mental health needs especially and i think that will go a long way as well to ensure those men and women that get their soft skills and hard skills in the military are not going to be the target recruitment by these
organizations. >> thank you both for this incredibly rich conversation today. i'm going to end with one last question for both of you which as you mentioned the whole of government approach for everyone watching today or who. will wath this online virtually in the future, what is the take away or the one thing that they can do in their community to help address the threat of extremism? >> i go back to my friend john lewis. i think part of the problem that we've got today is that so many people in our local communities will notoc confront the issue. they are afraid for whatever
reason. but they are afraid they will get bullied online and i think people have to stand up and speak out and talk to their children about this and i think they have to demand that their publicnk officials and candidats running for office and public officials that p are there now also stand up and speak out. this should be a bipartisan issue. this shouldn't be a republican or democratic issue it's an american issue we need to deal with and t we can only deal with it with people taking a strong stance for what's right in this country about all people and the equality that we represent. >> i wholeheartedlywh agree with that to better educate yourself as individuals and understand the history of this nation and i think we talked about this overwhelming number of people involved in extremist
organizations that have to do with white supremacy and nationalism where race is becoming a divisive factor. the significance of race is probably as great today as it was in the height of the 1950s and 60s civil rights era and quite frankly some may argue the reconstruction. with race, ethnicity, geography, it's not an effort to divide the country. it's an effort to bring the country together so everyone in the country has an opportunity to pursue the american dream. but our country was founded on a document in the constitution that embedded racism into the founding document. there were laws and practices that perpetuated that so in the
effort to get beyond that it should be viewed as remedial in nature and not somehow creating a division that doesn't already exist. it's to get beyond racial division that goes back centuries in this country. that takes a lot to do for the man and woman out on the streets. a lot of members of congress have different understandings of that as well. >> thank you both so much. senator jones foror being here r your career. thank you representative brown for your service and all you are doing to root out extremism more generally. thank you to everybody for participating in today's conversation, for your questions and interests. please continue to followw the