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A U.S. marine is being investigated for sharing anti-Semitic and racist memes online

House Democrats are asking the Pentagon to explain how it screens service members across the armed services for extremist beliefs.

by Tess Owen
Feb 26 2019, 8:09pm

An active-duty Marine is under investigation for allegedly sharing anti-Semitic and racist memes online.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service confirmed reports of an ongoing investigation into an active-duty Marine but declined further comment. The investigation was first reported by Military.com.

News of the investigation comes less than a week after federal prosecutors said a Coast Guard lieutenant with 30 years in the military had stockpiled weapons and plotted “focused violence” to establish a “white homeland” in America. The fact that Lt. Christopher Hasson was able to fly under the radar for so long has cast renewed scrutiny on the Department of Defense’s decades-long effort to flush out far-right extremism from its ranks.

On Monday, House Democrats wrote a letter to the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security asking what they’re doing to screen recruits and monitor active-duty service members for signs of far-right radicalization.

Marine veteran Ed Beck posted screenshots from the now-deleted account belonging to the active-duty Marine under investigation. In those screenshots, the Marine asserts that he was national socialist (also known as a neo-Nazi) until “a couple years ago,” and says that he would have fought in the Waffen-SS, the armed wing of the German Nazi party.

In other posts, he uses the N-word and shares images of swastikas, along with other racial slurs and profanities. He also describes himself as a recent convert to the far-right group the Catholic Society of St. Pius X, which was founded by a Nazi sympathizer in the 1970s (all of its priests were excommunicated in the 1980s, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center). The organization has continued to disseminate anti-Semitic material, the SPLC says.

Since the 1990s, military personnel have been prohibited from holding white supremacist beliefs.

In a ProPublica/ Frontline report published last May, Beck said he’d struggled to make military officials pay attention when he flagged a possible extremist in their midst. Beck said he brought a dossier to military officials showing the extent of Marine Lance Cpl. Vasilios Pistolis’ involvement in neo-Nazi groups, including that he marched with white supremacists in Charlottesville in 2017, and was met with relative indifference.

ProPublica and Frontline reported that Pistolis previously was a leader in Atomwaffen, a neo-Nazi group that’s preparing for a race war. After their report last May, the Marines investigated and eventually dishonorably discharged Pistolis.

Cover: The U.S. Department of the Navy, U.S. Marine Corps seal hangs on the wall February 24, 2009, at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. (Photo: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)