Nearly 1 in 5 people charged in Capitol riot have military history: analysis

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Nearly 1 in 5 people charged in connection to the violent Jan. 6 raid on the U.S. Capitol has some form of a military history, according to an NPR analysis.

Of the more than 140 individuals charged in the attack thus far, at least 27, or nearly 20 percent, have served or are currently serving in the U.S. military, NPR found.

The numbers are startling as only 7 percent of all American adults are military veterans, according to the Census Bureau.

The riot resulted in five deaths and forced lawmakers, staffers and journalists to hide in secure locations as the mob ransacked offices, assaulted Capitol Police officers and stole property. Among those charged in the riot is Jacob Fracker, an off-duty police officer who is a corporal in the Virginia National Guard and was an infantry rifleman in the Marine Corps. His colleague, Thomas Robertson, a 47-year-old Army veteran, is also facing charges.

Jacob Anthony Chansley, who served in the Navy for two years, was photographed inside the Capitol wearing a horned, fur-covered headdress and face paint.

Larry Rendall Brock Jr., the man allegedly photographed in tactical gear and carrying zip tie restraints on the Senate floor, is a former Air Force lieutenant colonel. He has been charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Thomas Edward Caldwell, a Navy veteran and alleged leader of the Oath Keepers — a right-wing extremist group — has also been charged, as has alleged member Donovan Ray Crowl, a Marine Corps veteran. The group is known to attempt to recruit current service members and veterans.

Both Caldwell and Crowl were charged with conspiracy to obstruct the Electoral College vote, according to NPR.

And the woman who was fatally shot by a Capitol Police officer, Ashli Babbitt, was an Air Force veteran.

An individual with the most apparent alleged ties to extremist ideology is Timothy Louis Hale-Cusanelli, 30, a Navy contractor who worked at a naval weapons station with a secret security clearance. Hale-Cusanelli, who is also an Army Reserve Sergeant, is an “avowed white supremacist and Nazi sympathizer,” according to court documents.

The significant percentage of those with a military background since charged in connection to the chaos now raises questions as to the extent of extremism in the ranks of the armed forces.

The scrutiny has caused the Pentagon’s internal watchdog to announce last week that it will investigate whether the Defense Department has adequate procedures in place to prevent white supremacists and other extremists from joining and remaining in the military.

Former acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller — who left his post with the outgoing administration on Wednesday — ordered a separate review of the Pentagon’s policies on extremist activity in the ranks. 

And retired Gen. Lloyd Austin, President Biden’s pick to lead the Defense Department, told Congress earlier this week that if confirmed, he would work to deter extremism in the military and “to rid our ranks of racists.”

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