Speier calls for screening of service members’ social media accounts

A Democratic representative is urging the federal government and Department of Defense in particular to screen the social media accounts of U.S. service members and other “individuals with sensitive roles” for ties to white supremacist and far-right groups.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, wrote in a letter to President Biden and his top Defense chiefs obtained by Politico that the federal government must do more to weed out far-right views and white supremacist sympathizers in the armed forces and other areas of government.

“Perhaps most importantly, DoD and the U.S. Government at large are not effectively screening servicemembers and other individuals with sensitive roles for white-supremacist and violent-extremist ties,” she wrote in the letter.

“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.”

Her comments come in apparent response to a CNN analysis published last week that found a “disproportionate” amount of active duty or retired members of the armed forces participated in the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, making up 14 percent of those charged so far.

Speier went on in her letter to call upon Biden to issue an executive order “identifying white supremacy and violent extremism as a critical threat” and directing agencies to screen applicants for such views before employment is offered.

Dozens have been charged so far in the riot at the Capitol last month, as FBI officials continue to seek the identity of those involved, including the person seen on video leaving pipe bombs outside the headquarters of both the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee, which drew police resources away from the riot.

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