By Mark F. Gray
Maryland Congressman Anthony Brown (D) continues hold The Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security accountable for combating extremism in the military and demanding a strategy and justification for the active duty service member deployments to the Mexican border- ahead of the House vote on a resolution to terminate the President’s national emergency.
The state’s former lieutenant governor is a 30-year combat veteran who is now the vice chair of the House Armed Services Committee. He and five other Congressional Representatives, including Baltimore’s Elijah Cummings, took the lead in drafting letters directed to the Department of Defense (DOD) Acting Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on the recent arrest of Coast Guard Lt. Christopher Hasson.
In their letter, the diverse group of elected officials applauded the swift action taken by federal agencies to stop the threat to America’s national security posed by military personnel such as Lt. Hasson. However, they formerly expressed concern that, “an individual that espouses these views could repeatedly serve in the military across multiple services.”
Their letter also asserts that, “United States law clearly prohibits discrimination and extremist behavior amongst military service members…[and] while the vast majority of our service members continue to serve honorably…it appears that some service members are still able to actively associate with extremist organizations.”
The Members also requested more information from the DOD and the DHS on what policies are in place in each branch of service that would “prohibit the participation or association with extremist organizations.” They continue to probe for information on what departments use reporting mechanisms to enforce the policies and programs in place, to access information on Hasson’s history with multiple branches of the Armed Services that would have indicated he was unfit for military service.
Prosecutors allege for at least two years, Hasson visited White supremacist and neo-Nazi websites, and studied the 1,500-page manifesto written by Anders Behring Breivik, a far-right Norwegian extremist who killed 77 people in 2011 at his Coast Guard work desk. He also reportedly abused the synthetic opioid Tramadol while at work, that he had obtained illegally.
In their letter to Shanahan the group of committee leaders demand a strategy and justification for the active duty service member deployments to the border, and the use of DOD resources to build the wall through the President’s national emergency declaration.
The Members want Shanahan to understand that over the past 18 years, “no administration – Republican or Democratic – has found it necessary to deploy active duty personnel to secure our borders,” read portions of another letter.
“Troop deployment levels appear to have been chosen not based on an assessment of an actual threat, but instead based on the status of negotiations for a border wall,” the letter reads. “This haphazard use of active duty military personnel leaves one guessing what the true motives behind this deployment are, and what mission our men and women in uniform are actually being asked to perform.”
President Donald J. Trump wants to send another 1,000 troops to the border after declaring a national emergency, bringing the number of DOD personnel on the border to about 6,000, with no clear objective or long-term strategy.
The Members of Congress also state that the President is declaring a national emergency, despite ample evidence that, “there is clearly no national emergency on the southern border.” They also point to recent reporting that even senior officials in the Department of Defense believe the deployment is, “an expensive waste of time and resources.”
This article originally appeared in The Afro.