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Congresswoman calls for screening of social media accounts of US troops

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Pentagon Chief Lloyd Austin visits National Guard troops deployed at the US Capitol and its perimeter, on January 29, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)

A top Democrat in the House of Representatives has urged US  President Joe Biden and the top officials at the Department of Defense (DoD) to screen social media accounts to weed out far-right views and white supremacist sympathizers in the armed forces and other areas of government infiltrated by white supremacist and far-right groups.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who chairs the House Armed Services Military Personnel subcommittee, wrote in a letter to Biden and Pentagon Chief Lloyd Austin and the Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, that all the material in the social media accounts of service members and other "individuals with sensitive roles" needed to be checked.

"Perhaps most importantly, DoD and the US Government at large are not effectively screening servicemembers and other individuals with sensitive roles for white-supremacist and violent-extremist ties," Speier wrote in the letter as quoted by US media.

In her letter dated Friday, Speier warned about the growing threat of extremist groups, insisting that the US government and Pentagon were not effectively screening servicemembers for links to such groups.

Speier also called for federal agencies to vet social media accounts of military recruits and those seeking government security clearances for ties to violent extremist groups on social media.

"This gap is inexcusable," she added. "Social media is not viewed during the military's accessions process or even as part of the background investigations process for security clearances."

"Social media platforms...are frequently used by domestic terrorist groups to recruit members and plan violent attacks... yet social media is not reviewed during the military's accessions process or even as part of the background investigation process for security clearances," she said in her letter.

Following the riot on Capitol Hill, lawmakers demand to know how right wing groups infiltrated the military.

A CNN analysis showed a disproportionate number of current and former military personnel had been arrested during the deadly January 6 attack on Capitol Hill by supporters of former president Donald Trump.

Pentagon records and court proceedings revealed 21 of the first 150 Trump loyalists arrested were active military personnel and veterans.


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