Kenny Stancil Military Politics

U.S. Military Document Puts Socialists in Same Category as Neo-Nazis

The Navy's new counterterrorism training guide says that socialists are "political terrorists," just like neo-Nazis.
Photo of a U.S. Navy flag.
U.S. Navy flag. (Thad Zajdowicz / Flickr)(CC BY 2.0)

By Kenny Stancil / Common Dreams


A new U.S. military training document obtained exclusively by The Intercept places socialists in the same “terrorist ideological category” as neo-nazis, worsening long-standing progressive fears that a federal crackdown on “domestic terrorism” would just as likely be used to target leftists who want a truly democratic society as to thwart far-right extremists who favor racist authoritarianism.

Journalist Ken Klippenstein, the recipient of the leaked counterterrorism training material, reported Tuesday that the Navy’s new guide includes the following question: “Anarchists, socialists, and neo-nazis represent which terrorist ideological category?”

“The correct answer is ‘political terrorists,'” according to Klippenstein, who was informed on the matter by an unnamed military source familiar with the training.

Klippenstein noted that the document, titled Introduction to Terrorism/Terrorist Operations, is “part of a longer training manual recently disseminated by the Naval Education Training and Command’s Navy Tactical Training Center in conjunction with the Center for Security Forces.” The military source told him that “the training is designed for masters-at-arms, the Navy’s internal police.”

According to Klippenstein, the military official, who is not authorized to speak publicly, described the training as “ineffective.”

While socialists—including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who received nearly 23 million votes in the Democratic Party’s presidential primaries in 2016 and 2020, combined—typically want to expand democracy beyond the political sphere, into the economic realm that most profoundly shapes the lives of working people, neo-nazis seek to exterminate people of color, people with disabilities, and other individuals deemed “undesirable.”

And yet, according to the Navy’s counterterrorism training manual, socialists pursuing a more egalitarian society that would benefit the vast majority of the world’s population are tantamount to neo-nazis advocating for a genocidal dictatorship led by eugenicists.

”Medicare for All is now officially a terrorist plot,” quipped one Twitter user. The Debt Collective, meanwhile, drew attention to famous socialists, revered by many around the nation and world, all of whom the U.S. military would now demonize as terrorists, assuming they weren’t already targeted for such abuse under McCarthyism.

The military’s apparent attempt to portray the champions of policies like Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and other initiatives aimed at creating a more just and sustainable society as equivalent to well-armed reactionaries who seek to overthrow the federal government flies in the face of the national security state’s own evidence about the key sources of political violence.

As Klippenstein wrote:

Both the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have identified white supremacists as the deadliest terror threat to the United States. In October 2020, the Department of Homeland Security issued its first annual “Homeland Threat Assessment” report, stating that white supremacists were “exceptionally lethal” and “will remain the most persistent and lethal threat in the homeland.” In September, FBI Director Christopher Wray, in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that white supremacists “have been responsible for the most lethal attacks over the last decade” and that they comprise “the biggest chunk of our domestic terrorism portfolio.”

Meanwhile, Klippenstein asserted, the corporate media has largely overlooked how the government’s effort to neutralize “domestic terrorism” opens the door for widespread violations of leftists’ constitutional rights—with legitimate calls for the downward redistribution of wealth and power, an end to police brutality and killings, and greater development of renewable energy at increased risk of being suppressed in the name of anti-extremism.

“While the right has been vocal with its concerns about being unfairly targeted for political opinions,” Klippenstein wrote, “media coverage of the Biden administration’s focus on domestic extremism has paid considerably less attention to what it might mean for movements on the left, including Black Lives Matter, antifa (short for anti-fascists), and the environmental movement.”

Pointing to The Intercept‘s recent series, “The Threat Within,” Klippenstein stressed that “the Justice Department’s handling of domestic extremism can often be arbitrary and disproportionate to any threat its targets may pose.”

Liberal lawmakers have also downplayed the risks of a new war on domestic terror, Klippenstein argued. Although then-Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), now a senior adviser to President Joe Biden, criticized the FBI director over the agency’s “Iron Fist” program targeting so-called “Black Identity Extremists” in 2019, such concerns—common during the Trump administration—”have waned under the Biden administration, despite an intensified focus on domestic extremists that could include groups on the left, as the Navy document suggests.”

A senior Defense Department official familiar with the development of the military’s anti-domestic terrorism initiative admitted that it has been “exceptionally difficult” to define “extremism” in a way that does not infringe upon civil liberties enshrined in the Bill of Rights, Klippenstein reported. He noted that “an internal Pentagon draft document proposing language to define extremism, reviewed by The Intercept, is three pages long, the tortured language reflecting attempts not to violate First Amendment rights, according to the senior Defense Department official.”

In response to Klippenstein’s reporting, trade unionist and journalist Joe Emersberger argued that “the U.S.A.’s terrorist campaign against socialism abroad has always existed side by side with a (comparatively) far less murderous one at home.” The Navy’s new counterterrorism training document is “disturbing,” he added.

18 comments

  1. We need to defund the worlds militaries (all of them)….better yet, let’s tax them and put some of that money into the new exploding field of longevity research (biotechnology and nanotechnology), after all, a great deal of money is spent per year worldwide on what is essentially 20th century medical tech, when we are approaching a world where we are obtaining an detailed understanding of the molecular processes of aging…see sites like https://www.fightaging.org and https://www.send.org and any videos by Aubrey de Grey who estimated over 10 years ago that around 10 billion on aging research and development would make quit some progress by now…..he estimates that we are a couple of years away from demonstrating age reversal in a mouse model with about 10-15 years away on humans…..with just the US spending about over a trillion dollars per year (1000×1-billion dollars) we have no excuse to keep wasting money on massive war machines (also if we do itches a lot of other countries will be forced to do the same (monkey see, monkey do)!!

  2. Socialism is THE opponent of capitalism, the political-economic system which has corrupted the U.S. and caused the Climate Emergency and wars worldwide. That’s why socialism MUST be demonized along with the true demons such as neo-Nazis.

    The U.S. military, including the Navy, is the “enforcer” for global, corporate U.S. capitalism, so any political-economic system which opposes that murderous, ecocidal system MUST be demonized.

  3. The current “war against right-wing extremists” is in fact—and always has been—a war against the Left, initiated by right-wing extremist J. Edgar Hoover and his successors in the F.B.I. and the national security state against civil rights activists, anti-war protesters, whistleblowers, unions, Occupy Wall Street, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, et al, characterizing them as national security threats to the “law-abiding silent majority”. This is why journalists and social activists of the stature of Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges, Ralph Nader, Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, Aaron Mate, Max Blumenthal, et al, are banned from the New York Times, Washington Post, and the corporate broadcast news media. The second most dangerous thing on earth to US “foreign policy” is US “domestic policy”.

  4. I wonder if this specialized homeland training involves all branches of the military. Doesn’t the Marines serve at the request of the President, not requiring the approval of Congress before being called into action? Looks like we may be headed for a very dangerous cocktail of oppression in the near future that has nothing to do with the Dem/Rep smokescreen theater that bombards us daily.

    1. The Marines serve under the Department of the Navy and the Secretary of the Navy. It’s a branch like the other branches with the sole difference that it will give green cards to foreign nationals who enlist.

  5. “Medicare for All is now officially a terrorist plot ….”

    That’s funny. I always looked at Medicare for All as more of an anti-organized-crime initiative. (Seriously. If you can find a business model that more closely resembles the US healthcare system than a massive protection/extortion racket run by a syndicate of crime families with both competing and complementary turfs, I’ll consider reviewing my characterization.)

    As to the gravamen of the article, I suppose if the Amazon-funded recall effort against Seattle city councilmember Kshama Sawant fails, she’ll be black-bagged by the military under the NDAA, renditioned to Gitmo, and enhancedly interrogated until she buys Amazon Prime memberships for everyone in Socialist Alternative.

  6. According to the U.S. military, if you’re not a little goose-stepping fascist, you are an enemy. This country has gone over to the dark side completely.

  7. Another example of the old oxymoron,” military intelligence”

  8. The most dangerou sorganization in the USA and perhaps beyond is the Republican Party, closely followed by the Democratic Party.

    1. rosemerry,

      I completely disagree with you: the most dangerous organization in the USA is the Chamber of Commerce, closely followed by the U.S. Military.

  9. Whether by way of on-line censorship or more potentially violent means, “The Overton Window” is being weaponized. As the yawning gap between struggling Americans and the oligarchs grows, I fear for the future of progressive movements and voices – we’re already living under corporate totalitarianism.

    1. Adam Gorelick,

      I remember shouting, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” out of an Overton Window back in ’76, and the only one who got anything out of it… was Jane Fonda.

      If Americans would realize that 99.9% of us are suffering economic subjugation, intended to divide and complicate any group effort aimed at establishing a more equitable society, and that the source of all messaging intended to create that division originates from the wealth accrued by a minority small enough to be eliminated by a handful of dedicated men and women armed with automatic weapons, then perhaps there would be no need for such self-defeating “fear.”

      Just spitballing here…

  10. God forbid countries actually care about people – better to have raging war machines bombing the entire world into oblivion…

    1. Susan Leslie,

      How else could we ever forget about climate change, long enough to willingly accept corporate pollution?

  11. But, wait! Glenn Greenwald, the “leftwing” Tucker Carlson / white supremacy bagman, says the military is woke.

    What’s a confused populist to think?!

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