Defense

Diversity chief at US Special Operations Command reassigned during probe into social media posts

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Officials have reassigned a new diversity and inclusion chief at U.S. Special Operations Command amid an investigation into his previous controversial social media posts.

Special Operations Command spokesman Kenneth McGraw told The Hill on Monday that Richard Torres-Estrada was reassigned “to other duties” pending the conclusion of the probe. 

“The Commander has directed an investigation to look into the facts surrounding Mr. Torres-Estrada’s selection,” McGraw said in a statement. “It would be inappropriate to comment on specifics until the evaluation is complete.”

He did not mention Torres-Estrada’s current position but told CNN that he is still within the Special Operations Command that manages operations for the Navy SEALs, Army Rangers and Delta Force. 

A senior military spokesperson confirmed to CNN that one of the posts under scrutiny involved a post that seemingly compared former President Trump to Adolf Hitler. 

Torres-Estrada’s June 20 post included a photo from Trump’s largely criticized visit to St. John’s Episcopal Church, where he posed with a Bible after law enforcement forcibly cleared the area in front of the White House with tear gas. 

Next to the former president’s picture, Torres-Estrada put a photo of Hitler in front of a crowd while giving the Nazi salute, according to CNN. The picture of the German dictator was edited to show him holding a Bible. 

That post was accompanied by the Spanish text, saying, “Let me leave this here for you and slowly back away (while I continue to work from home).”

CNN noted that Torres-Estrada also posted a meme to Facebook saying Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was “MISSING” after the senator traveled to Cancun, Mexico, as Texas dealt with a deadly winter storm and power outages, but it’s unknown if that post is part of the investigation. 

Torres-Estrada’s Facebook page was not available for viewing as of Tuesday morning.

During a Monday press conference, Pentagon chief spokesman John Kirby said that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin knows about the social media posts and the investigation. 

“Obviously, we take the need to promote diversity and inclusion seriously here in the department. the secretary has spoken to that many times,” Kirby said. “And we certainly want that work to be transparent, to be credible, to be effective, and of course professional.” 

“We want everybody to take those duties and responsibilities seriously and professionally, but we’re not going to get ahead of Special Operations Command’s investigation,” he added.

A number of government hires and appointees have had their social media posts analyzed in recent years, including Neera Tanden, whose nomination for the Office of Management and Budget was disrupted and ultimately withdrawn amid discussions over her previous posts denouncing Republicans and progressives.

Updated at 11:26 a.m.

Tags Department of Defense Diversity Donald Trump Lloyd Austin Neera Tanden Pentagon Social media social media posts Ted Cruz
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