White Supremacy in the ranks: Removing extremists not as easy as it sounds

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Testing the limits of the 1st Amendment:

California is one of four states, including Oregon, Minnesota and Tennessee, along with Washington, D.C., that have proposed new laws to give law enforcement agencies more power to exclude officers with ties to extremism.

Various such efforts have been simmering around the country for years, spurred by F.B.I. reports starting more than 15 years ago that document a concerted effort by white supremacist and other extremist organizations to infiltrate the police.

They actually stumbled across intel in 2004 that pushed them to investigate further, discovering the deployment of "Ghost Skins." These are White Supremacists who don't wear the garb (or tattoos) of neo-nazis, so they can blend in and work from inside police and other organizations. Here's the redacted 2006 report released last year (can't copy and paste, you'll have to read it yourself). Here's more on the rights of racists:

Major unions in California have supported the general idea of scrutinizing applicants more closely, but they opposed the first draft in February of a law that would reject all candidates who had been members of hate groups, participated in their activities or publicly expressed sympathy for them.

They feared that the legal basis for defining extremist groups was overly broad, and that members of organizations opposing abortion or same-sex marriage might be ensnared by the law.

The proposed measures are all bound to prompt challenges on constitutional grounds, said Philip M. Stinson, a former police officer who is now a professor of criminal justice at Bowling Green State University. It would be preferable to prohibit certain types of behavior rather than to focus on membership in an organization, he said. “The idea that we can systematically reform policing through a bevy of legislative actions in short order, I don’t think that is possible,” he said.

Well, you're already supposed to "prohibit certain types of behavior," like beating suspects unnecessarily and kneeling on their necks and such. By the time that happens it's often too late.

But it's not just the police that are struggling with how to do this; the military is as well:

For decades, domestic extremists have flaunted ties to the U.S. military, seeking to claim the status, credibility and effective tactical training that military service entails.

And for decades top leaders in the military have promised to go after domestic extremists — like militia groups, white supremacists and those who advocate violence against the government — when discovered in the ranks.

The Defense Department has no central tracking of allegations or disciplinary actions related to extremism, and regulations allow for extremist affiliations and rhetoric, as long as a service member doesn’t act upon them. In the past, defense officials have downplayed the issue, claiming the numbers were low and that mere membership in such organizations is not a crime, making it difficult to track. Yet internally, the concerns were evident long before the attack on the Capitol.

Tougher enforcement is now under consideration at the highest levels of government.

Some measures under consideration include: better vetting of incoming recruits, monitoring social media for those in sensitive positions, adding questions about extremism to command climate surveys, a tattoo database so commanders know what to look for, increased training and an accountability mindset that encourages reporting.

In most military units the living conditions and rank structure make hiding such affiliations damned near impossible. Everybody knows everybody's business, no matter how "aloof" you try to be. In other words, it can be done, if the commanders are given the proper guidance.

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