tv Discussion on White Supremacy in Law Enforcement Military CSPAN October 10, 2021 2:57pm-3:45pm EDT
>> today a fast reliable internet connection is something nobody can live without. now, more than ever, it starts with great internet. wow. announcer: wow supports c-span along with these other providers giving you a front row seat to democracy. an object or next, anthony brown and doug jones talk about white supremacy in law enforcement and the military. they also look at what congress can do to address the issue. >> thank you so much danielle, it's a pleasure to be here today for someone to introduce both of our panelists. starting with senator jones, welcome former u.s. senator from alabama, doug jones, who will be one of our two panelists in today's conversation at the u.s.
attorney for alabama, senator jones prosecuted to kkk members whether role in the 1963, 16th street baptist church bombing and he is been a prominent civil rights advocate throughout his career. notably center jones has action as a distinguished senior fellow focusing on racial equity for social justice issues as well as criminal justice and democracy reform. and i'm also very excited to welcome representative anthony brown marilyn fourth congressional district. representative brown serves on the house armed services committee as well as the committee on veterans affairs, transportation and infrastructure. the commerce but is also kosher the new democrat collision it for national security as an authority retired col. in the united states army reserve and he has a military record spanning more than a quarter of a century as an aviator and jag officer he was awarded the
region of merit and it's hard for us distinguished service and is also the author of legislation tracking extremism within the armed services. to begin a conversation, my supremacy opposes one of the most lethal threat to american democracy and security. senator jones, you prosecuted one of the most infamous hate crimes in american history know you're a senior fellow here and you are to the team recently released a comprehensive national group to end white supremacist violence. can you talk about the key federal actions that are needed to curb the white supremacist activities within our government institutions in our military specifically brightest and i think thinking upon thank you everybody for joining us today especially congressman brown for being here. and this is such an important conversation and the national policy blueprint on combating white supremacy, is very
important that the key to it, the first and foremost key, is the recognition. talking about this, and then today's world and in light of everything that is going on from that is been one of the significant develop is in the last year or so and path is been leading that effort in giving this front and center there's any number of things and i would encourage those who are watching today you haven't gone on the website and sing this blueprint, please do that and take a look at it and spread it around because it encompasses so many good recommendations but also provides the basis for where we are today. the things we've got to do our relatively simple but we know the is in the details read for instance i think it's in, and upon the doj to establish some federal advisory committees and this needs to be the whole of government approach to develop policies and guidelines to implement strategies and that is the key to implement the
strategies and helping law enforcement across the spectrum. federal state and local to mitigate any white supremacist action and we talk about extremist actions that that is true and we should always talk about violence in a larger context. but i think that we would be remiss if we didn't talk about white supremacy in particular because is been acknowledged that is the most significant threat that we face from extremist violence. we need to update this what we are here today, we need to talk about the department of defense and the processes and resources in order to prevent infiltration and detect by supremacist and extremism and the associated risk. remember, all the members of our military today are also going to 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 the stars with
the department of defense and the veterans affairs. the department of defense can develop recruitment and clearance strategies into more on the questionnaires and read current background checks, monitoring. the military is on the one hand, very rigid but on the other hand, there also rigid and with that reggie comes the ability to monitor better than any other department within the federal government. so that it will update clarify the departments programs and go to work on making sure the policies and their expectations, the training that enforcement policies all are rooted or base and try to root out extremism. lastly, we can't talk the military without talking about the department of veterans affairs. we see all the time the issues with our veterans these days. it is a serious issue with
regard to mental health and access to mental health, veteran suicides with epic is a part with the department of defense greatest on so happy to be here today and what each of you joined us today to support us are especially proud to share this virtual stage on my congressman brown from maryland. and you have congressman, you've really devoted your life and your career to keeping this country save both from foreign and domestic extremism a new have made clearly made this congress, a goal of rooting out extremism in the military. he served on the armed services committee and this is something that you are passionate about and i would like if you were to start out talk to us about your bill what the prospects are in the importance of this kind of legislation it coming from congress, not just the executive
branch. >> sure and thank you senator jones and i want to thank you for your decade of service to our nation and in the justice department and sort of the most significant civil rights cases in the history of our country. thank you for your service in the u.s. senate is a real delight to be here with you noon. and i want to think you for inviting me and let me just start by saying that having spent 30 years in the military, i do know the threat that our country faces that are military everyday are not just a threat than on distant battlefields from foreign adversaries. i know and you know that cat knows and that is why national strategy blueprint for
encountering white extremist violence is a much overdue and greatly appreciated document and we know that for decades, we have been grappling with extremist ideology within our own community. at home grown it and even in her military ranks. so, what i set out to do in partnership with my colleagues in the house and in the senate, is to essentially give the department tools and authorities to address this growing problem. last year they had a report that said that extremism in the military grew by 66 percent from 2019 - 2020 the dod reported in 2022 congress to identify extremist recruitment in the dod is a real threat. so is that hey, department needs greater authority and tools so
in a nutshell the bare-bones outline of the legislation, first we clarify that the secretary of defense has the authority to exclude from participation in the military and separate from military service, anyone who not only participates in extremist activity but as a member of extremist organization and we really think it's important to go after the membership piece as well insured will talk more about that in the first amendment implications but to clear quite by the authority under the secretary to extremism and define the procedure that will be there then clear for identifying and eliminating those members. then the next thing that we do is and a lot is quite frankly perhaps with the blueprint of or
is data collection fight and you can ask different members of the military if extremism exist you get a varying degree of responses some commanders will say there is none of my rank. others will say yes, have a serious problem that we don't know the full extent so we do data collection and reporting and analysis. in the third component and supported that we have trained everyone from the private to the four-star and moral general, what we mean by extremism and how to identify and how do we promote the values and against which extremism is existence of training is very important. in the final piece and that training i should say is not just for military but for those who are going to be transitioning in the status and then the final piece is to
develop an institutional capacity within the department to do the oversight and the monitoring in the training and education and the importance because we know the long as the extremism is in america, the military will be the object, not the subject, but the object of extremist groups who want to regroup from the military to get to training and experience of the military to provide the members for the purposes of defendant for defending our nation. not for filling the rank so as long as extremism exists in this country we need that institutional capacity within the dod to fight the good fight. >> let me ask you quick about this data collection, that's a really important part of this camp blueprint because from someone who is dealt with this in the private sector, data collection is a real problem.
we've got thousands mean literally 12000 or so agencies out there the report no hate crimes whatsoever even though they were on the book. having been a local prosecutor, sometimes i can understand that, they don't want to get i don't have a data collection or without the data, you really are facing an uphill goal predict to try to recruit out this predict another military as you noted is pretty rigid and there is a lot of deniability there for the same reasons. so tell me a little bit about how the bills going to help with the data collection and will you be able to get the department of defense to buy it with them to try to make sure the data collected appropriately and we have seen and know you know this even on sex issues within the department of defense of the low level level of data collection how can we make this letter when
he comes to white supremacy and extremism in our department of defense party to. >> sure, i'll start by saying that it will be a challenge and it will be an uphill battle regrettably. to get the department of defense to work with congress of this issue. so when it comes to issues other than the level of funding for fighters and other peer kermit accounts where we seem to work better with the dod. when it comes to the issues surrounding supporting military families and personnel, we always find a much more difficult with the sex assault for one example. racial and ethnic disparities in the uniform military justices prayed and unfortunately, an interesting extremism, the department just recently sent tr
policies to congress in which they outright opposed the provisions that are in the house version of 50 authorization act said that is concerning and one of the items that they identify as the dead to collection. everyone was looking at this issue understands the critical fundamental understanding of the scope of the problem in getting after the problem. some hoping we will be able to work with the department was due to concerns are so that we can get them as well. but some of the things we are looking at in that reporting. yet to approve things like the questionnaires and that are conducted every year. and asking service members about their experience you can understand the prevalence and the frequency and what it really
looks like, that is really important. the other pieces encouraging the dod to work with other agencies homeland security, the doj and fbi. in sharing the information and trying to harmonize what that database looks like and what the data collection it. i mean, literally down to the fields of populate in a database to let the information to be easily shared and analyzed. we also need for the department to update and publicize and report to congress on this data they are collecting. we want to look at the how many instances are reported not only in the surveys, what about discipline disciplinary action they are taking that involves extremist behavior after separations and administrative
actions, criminal punishment. military just as nothing broadly, only then will we have a full understanding of the scope of the problem in the military rated. >> you know, i've never seen any government agency or private sector people that want to collected data. they always talk about the bird in the think that what you're doing is so important. in the cold, rated. >> thinking i just want to begin to the data collection limitations and back to what you said senator jones, you reference voluntary reporting regarding hate crimes and law enforcement. can you talk a little bit more about the challenges of getting law enforcement data on hate crimes and in the communities
within the law enforcement sector. >> is extremely challenging. and at one point, there was a confinement about the unity themselves that we really don't like to collected data in the sense they believe that somehow it reflects badly on their community. and chief of police and sheriffs in other communities being tagged as hate crime build community and quite frankly the love state grounds comes a lot of publicity self there's been a reluctance to really collect this data. it seems especially here in alabama, you think that we were just a bastion of equality and diversity in alabama and we all know that is not the case and i think it's even exasperated now with the political dynamics between extremism on the right and on the left that was just last week at the national association attorney general.
the dc attorney general and an incredible conference on combating hate and there were a number of folks who did not come political issue targeting them on the right political right i think the challenge is a practical challenge in terms of the law enforcement in the communities themselves not wanting to be tagged and labeled but also political dynamic as well where people just will not look one way or the other than that is something that we just got to get over. >> you both have distinguished careers in law enforcement and military. representative brown, can you talk about your engagement with the military veteran communities in developing legislation that you've done and can you talk about how this constituencies
have been reflected to the forms of your outlining. >> sure, but that a number of things for example i participated in a conference of the association of defense unity and want to make clear they're not promoting any policies provision to address extremism but they did have an open forum to discuss the topic and the issue will be able to present back from representatives they too have taken a look at this and they understand the extent of the problems. we've engaged it informally the department of defense, and that's why for example in the provision that we put forward that we were initially going to define extremism. we defer to the military of our
understanding that the dod is going to work with the department of justice coming up with the definition that will withstand additional scrutiny or challenge. we also those conversations to establish these procedures that both democrats and republicans have been really harping on this with the military. if in fact you're having members with the ideal out printed ideologies of behavior. ... ...
these two tools for the military. because i truly view them as tools to better perform their mission. the primary mission is to deter war and when deterrents fail to fight and win that next war. and sometimes and all of that effort to focus on winning that war sometimes forget about the men, women and families in uniform. this is an opportunity to say it let's not forget about the good, the bad, the indifferent among our forces. take the tools, take the authority 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 member participation for a propaganda for further recruitment.
>> i think it's so important what congressman brown is doing here. this comes from congress. this comes from the house and the senate. this needs to be in all of government approach. while it's directed more toward the department of defense for sure, i don't think it would be appropriate to just rely on that department of defense, or the executive branch that comes and goes. and congress needs to step up. congress needs to stand up and speak out on this because it will be both the right and left extremism. collate white supremacy is the biggest issue in the military and across this country when it comes to violence and domestic terrorism. the fact is all of these can be applied at any number of ways to root out extremism. it's really important that what congressman brown is doing in regard to congress, just like last year we put in
a language to make sure the department of defense went to the issue of renaming bases and other assets that had been named for confederate generals and confederate officers. this is very similar to that. this is to let them know congress is serious about this. >> let me also add and to pick up on that whole of government approach that senator jones has now mentioned at least twice, the national strategy that the biden administration recently published on counter extremism, puts a huge premium or focus on that whole of government approach. it's not just the department of fenton defense, not even the department of justice's homeland security it's veterans affairs, it's health and human services there are
some aspects may talk about how you go to undermine causes of extremism behavior and ideology and if you're going to go after those it takes a whole of government approach. not just the federal government. federal government working with state, local and tribal government also work with international partners. while we are talking about domestic terrorism and extremism that is originating homegrown here we are beginning to see trans- national affiliation but i think about the rising white right wing fashion in germany and austria to name just two countries in europe. it's the whole of government approach that is certainly been the focus of the divided administration it's also the focus of congress. >> thank you for mentioning that, the white house strategy is so important here it's a
really good thing for us to end on print a question for both of you is, the white house strategy past the policy counsel led by ambassador susan rice was leading this work in partnering with civil society to tackle the problems and root causes of white supremacy in america including the military but across society what are some key action for the domestic policy counsel to consider and similarly what is really necessary for congress to do with this bill or in general to tackle this problem in this session for. >> congressman i'll let you tackle that first. >> some of the things we've already talked about which is collecting information and make sure it is shared broadly , i know for example congresses response to the january 6 insurrection we tried to create an independent commission similar to the post
911 commission to look at information sharing across government. whether it's focused just on january 6 or more broadly, extremism, there's information sharing. also, i do think and what the strategy calls for is given greater resources not only the prevention but the prosecution and to make sure all of our u.s. attorneys, all of our state attorneys generals and district attorneys are reading off the same sheet of music, sharing resources coordinating their efforts. i note sandra jones would note much more about that than i do and things like investigation, but also and i did mention this earlier because i knew this to be one of the important pillars of this strategy is going after some
of the long term issues that contribute to domestic terrorism. what is perpetuating the hatred and the division? the sense we live in a zero sum of tommy in society. how do we foster opportunity work everyone feels they have got a real fair shot at the american dream. those are some of the pillars, some of the strategy we are working on. and congress stands ready to support the initiatives coming out of the president domestic policy council and any other branch of government that is willing to work together to address domestic terrorism. >> those are all perfect. and nicole, i've got to be honest with you.
the blueprint for doing this is taken from the work it is a recognition of the issue. the congressman is right. essentially we are doing is trying to leverage the executive branch and the united states government to really enhance the responsibilities across the government both state and federal he got to prioritize the threats. and i think that's happening. for too long this was written off as a spotty problem here and there. think we've seen now this is a real priority. it has to be because in part this is a national security issue. there is no question because the context overseas and domestically. we've got to elevate this threat we've got to continue to elevate this threat we have to enhance cooperation you can do that with carrots you can do that with sticks. if you do with carrots by working together with the
state ag's, local law enforcement. but on occasion you've got federal funding to go to the states these local communities and state ag's instate investigative authority rely on. you can use that leverage a good bit to get them on board with so many of the priorities we got here. we've talked about data, that's an important part of the recommendation. we will not go through that but the qualitative data is so important here. congressman mentioned protecting communities in prosecuting crimes for that is really important. i think sometimes prosecutors often get caught up on the prosecution angle of this. that's really important to call a hate crime out for what it is. a hate crime. it sends an incredible message but protecting them is much more than that it's much more than after the fact prosecution and alleged deterrent. what you really have to do is work with communities for
transparency to get education out there and educating the public about what is going on and educating about the problems we have gotten this in dealing with the mental health issues. never underestimate the mental health part of this. finally i would talk about employing some of our financial and technological tools. we've got a lot of tools with the treasury department to root out those who are financing these situations. these are in part the lone wolf spent in large part they are not for the getting more organized every day. we saw what happened on january 6 i think will we have to balance the first amendment with also got the necessary financial tools. that is how the ku klux klan really got damage back in the 1980s in the southern poverty law center filed a lawsuit not only got a judgment but broke them financially.
we have got to make sure we have the ability to go after them financially and prosecute financial crimes. go after them in a civil context. and i think finally we have to recognize this is perhaps one of the biggest challenges is that our social media platforms and our technology companies bear some responsibility to their public and to their users as well. just last night we are seeing the 60 minute show with regard to the facebook whistleblower. not going to make any allegations one way or another on that per se. but i will say we've got to balance this we've got to get the technology companies in the social media platforms engaged in this because it can be a blessing but it can also be a curse and dangerous. again nicole thank you for this great discussion congressman. again i want to encourage everyone who's interested in this take a look at the
program that's on the website. our blueprint is really an outstanding piece of work. >> thank you. i'm going to introduce another senior fellow simon clark to start addressing some of the audience questions. the first question from the audience i'm going to direct to you, simon is a significant contributor to the blueprint mentioned. given your expertise and significant contribution can you talk about whether the administration's sake the threat of domestic extremism, particularly white supremacy seriously and what actions you seem to date? >> nicole thank you very much the congressman of the senate are both right. the administration has done an extraordinary job focusing on the national security threat from white supremacists and other antigovernment violence and really coming up with a strategy to deal with it.
having said that they cannot do it on their own and they need help. they need help from congress they need help from civil society. we need to keep the focus on this threats. good reporting makes a difference good activism to shut down online recruitment makes a big difference. and having congress be engaged in active and looking for solutions as the represented brown is doing right now, absolutely crucial. >> another question from the audience i will direct you to senator and representative. the first question is what you see as the relationship between racism and white supremacy in the military? how successful has that military bin and rooting out racism? >> i will take that if you
don't mind. we start off by saying that by extremism, while extremism rooted in white supremacy and nationalism is the predominant component and threat we currently face it's not new. go back to the ku klux klan in the immediate aftermath of the civil war proud boys today. by extremism we are not limiting you to those motivated by racial hatred, religious or ethnic hatred and division. it also includes those who just want to disrupt and overturned governments, think january 6 there were many people within that insurrection that had no affiliation whatsoever with the more white supremacist white nationalist groups.
they want to disrupt democracy think timothy mcveigh if you think about his experience he was associated with white supremacist groups his primary motive is he wants to disrupt government and toppled government. he saw government's overreach. at that component then you have extremists who are single issue minded whether they are acting out on their views about abortion, about environmental issues, about animal rights for you seem extremist behavior as well in this single issue oriented people. but yes white supremacy and nationalism is probably the primary driver we are seeing in the military and across the country that is by fbi director ray spoke to congress about that. that is waste defense secretary austin ordered the standdown earlier this year,
general millie has spoken appropriately about the rise of white nationalism in the military. so it is important to get our hands around it. you have senior commanders who have literally said before congress that extremism does not exist in my formation. we know that is wrong just statistically speaking it is inaccurate. so the dod are committed to eliminating extremism. they need to do better reporting, better data collection, better training credits really incumbent upon them if they're going to be consistent with the president's commitment to address it with where congress wants to go on this issue, we have got to work together congress and the department to get after extremism and in this case we are talking primarily white supremacy. survey after survey show that
in the military service members are experiencing more and more racism and tight semitism, it is in a language, it is in conduct by the problem exists we've got to get after it. they need the tools they need to accept it and embrace the tools congress is ready to get them free. >> i think part of this problem is we have to be very candid pre-part of the problem in the military is a reflection of parts of our society as a whole. as our country becomes more diverse there are people who are fearful of that. they have felt all along their part of a dominant class. when they feel like they are not going to be, they strike out. i think that is especially true between the military, their hierarchy, the superior officers versus the subordinate officers, people are drawn to that. think we have to recognize that a little bit that this is
part of a fear for some folks and we have to address that fear but let folks know we are all in this country together. our military is to support everyone into protect this democracy that we cherish so much. >> you have both spoken quite a bit about policies, training, data collection, that needs a change of the military and law enforcement to root out extremism and have military law enforcement that lives up to its reputation and for everybody in america, keeps everybody safe. what kind of resources are required to carry this out? is there currently sufficient resources to implement these policies or would moore be required? >> again i would happy to take that up first. i stated this publicly to secretary of defense austin and general millie last week and a hearing. the hearing happened to be on
u.s. evacuation operations in afghanistan. but i took it as an opportunity to make a statement about extremism in the military. while i commanded both of them for their action to address it and the commitment you are opposing these provisions. you are saying training requirements and data collection own it. we are now three of the four committee that are responsible for the level of defense spending in the house in the senate three of the four pretty think it's going to be for for for release soon are going to authorize an appropriate in additional $25 billion to the department of defense this year about the president's budget request. so you cannot tell me that data collection is onerous. you cannot tell me that training is odorous. you've got the resources, we
are giving you the authority. it's about doing difficult things. that is what this is it's difficult. i have no doubt about that. it's certainly not because of a lack of resources, both training and data collection the resources are there. >> nicole, it is important i think people realize the resources in this particular instance are important for the department of defense. but in a broader context we need to have a reallocation of some sources or additional resources that goes to the department of education. goes to hhs for mental health issues that can come in a form of grants that go into the states and the communities that the nonprofit organizations that are out there that are trying to elevate this issue and root out the cause as well. again we talk about a whole of government. we need to have a whole country approach as wellin this.
most, so many things can start at that local level. our families, our communities and our schools. over talking about resources we need to talk to him about as well break those folks will end up with the military. but if we have already educated them, it with already got them in a position to where they are not going to be susceptible, we have achieved a monumental goal at that point right there and gone a long way to diminishing the role of extremism in the military. >> if i may add one other important area that needs to be resourced as with our veterans, post- military. when you look at the january 6 insurrection it is alarming. i have seen different numbers but i think anywhere from 16% -- 20% of those indicted had prior military experience. only one was active duty. they are all veterans. we need to resourced the department of veterans affairs so they can stay connected to veterans. studies have shown that often
the attraction is to give veterans who have not left the military the structure, the regiment, the focus the purpose they see in extremist organizations that substitute community. we've got to stay engaged with our veterans, keep them involved in programs and activities with emotional, behavioral and mental health needs i think that can go a long way as well. they're not going to be the target of recruitment by these extremist organizations for. >> totally agree. >> thank you both so much for this incredibly rich conversation today i'm going to end it with one last question to both of you which is you mention the whole of government approach.
you mentioned a whole country approach. everyone who's watching today or who will watch this online virtually in the future, what is the take away you'd like them to have about this conversation or the one thing they can do in their communities to help address the threat of extremism within military and law enforcement? >> i will let you lead. >> i go back to our friend john lewis. stand up, speak out, because a little bit of trouble. i think part of the problem with got today is so many people in our local communities will not confront the issue. they are afraid for whatever reason. some may be afraid for their safety. they are afraid they're afraid they're going get bullied online pretty think people have to stand up and speak out for the have to talk to the children about this.
and i think they have to demand and i mean demands, the public officials people running for office also stand up and speak out. this should be a bipartisan issue bird that should not be a republican issue or a democrat issued this as an american issue we need to deal with. we can only deal with it taking a strong stand and standing for what is right in this country for all people in the equality we represent. >> what i would say and i wholeheartedly agree with that, is to better educate yourself as individuals and understand the history of this nation. i think we talked about this, the overwhelming number of people involved in organizations today has to do with white supremacy and nationalism or races becoming a divisive factor, the significance of a race is as great today in this country as
it was the height of the 1950s and 60s civil rights era. and quite frankly some may argue, right at the fall of reconstruction. to understand the history of this country and the efforts to provide opportunities to all americans regardless of race, ethnicity or geography is not an effort to divide the country. it's actually an effort to bring this country together. the demonstrate that everyone in this country has an opportunity to pursue the american dream. but our country was founded on a document, the constitution that embedded racism into our founding document. there were laws and practices that perpetuated that. so in our effort to overcome and get beyond that it should be viewed as remedial in nature and not somehow creating division that don't already exist. we try to get beyond racial
divisions that go back centuries in this country. and that takes a lot to do for the typical man and woman out on the street. the reason i say that is because a lot of members of congress have difficulty in her saying that as well. >> thank you both so much today but thank you, senator jones for being here, or your career and history and dedication to this issue. thank you representative brown for your service, for your service in congress, the military and all you're doing to root out extremism in the military more generally. thank you everyone for participating in today's conversation. your questions and interest. please file the cap action website for some of the blueprints and materials we've referenced as well as upcoming events. to rewatch today's event review upcoming action event please visit american progress action.org. thank you all so