Wyden, Colleagues Secure Investigation Into White Supremacy and Extremism in the Military

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden today announced the Department of Defense will heed the call from him and his colleagues and investigate and address white supremacy and extremist ideology in the ranks of the military following the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Several of the insurrectionists who attacked the Capitol have been identified as active duty servicemembers, reservists, retirees and veterans.

“The issue of white supremacy and extremist ideology within the ranks of our military is not new, but the attack on the Capitol makes clear this alarming trend must be immediately addressed,” Wyden and 13 other Democratic senators wrote in a letter to Department of Defense Acting Inspector General Sean O’Donnell. “The spread of white supremacist ideology is dangerous for the military and threatens to rupture civil-military safeguards that our democracy requires.”

A 2020 poll found that approximately one-third of all active-duty respondents said they saw “signs of white supremacist or racist ideology in the ranks” and research shows that right-wing extremists deliberately target servicemembers and veterans to capitalize on their specialized experience. Noting this extreme vulnerability, the senators pressed the Department of Defense to “support servicemembers when they transition out of the military so that our active duty and veteran populations are less vulnerable to recruitment by extremist organizations, and more resilient in the face of misinformation and conspiracy theories – the perpetuation of which the FBI has deemed a domestic terrorism threat.”

The letter, led by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., was also signed by U.S. Sens. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Mazie K. Hirono, D-Hawaii, Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Bob Casey, D-Pa.

A copy of the senators’ letter is available here.

A copy of DoD’s response is available here.

A web version of this release is available here.