Pentagon Whistle-Blower Resigns After Reprimand
A Department of Defense investigator who went public with allegations of extremists and gang members being tolerated in the armed forces has left the military. Scott Barfield resigned Aug. 15 from his position at Fort Lewis, near Tacoma, Wash., after being reprimanded for violating regulations on interactions with the media.
Barfield went on the record with the Intelligence Report regarding his investigations of extremists in the U.S. armed forces out of frustration at what he perceived to be an insufficient response by military leaders to a growing problem. He had also spoken earlier to the Chicago Sun-Times about street gang members joining the military.
"I knew [talking to the media] would eventually cost me my [military] career, but I figured I could move somewhere else," Barfield told the Tacoma News-Tribune. Barfield has since found employment as a patrol officer with the police department in the town of Renton, Wash., near Puget Sound.
In the Report article, which was widely quoted in newspapers including The New York Times, Barfield said that neo-Nazi and white power extremists "stretch across all branches of service, they are linking up across the branches once they're inside, and they are hard core." He also said that the military brass had consciously downplayed his reports. "Recruiters are knowingly allowing neo-Nazis and white supremacists to join the armed forces, and commanders don't remove them from the military even after we positively identify them as extremists or gang members," Barfield said.
In a letter (PDF) to the Southern Poverty Law Center that arrived more than 10 weeks after the SPLC's report on extremists in the military was delivered to the Pentagon, Under Secretary of Defense David Chu suggested that the report's conclusions were exaggerated and declined to investigate further.
But cases such as those spotlighted by the Report continued to crop up. Just days after the report was released in July, military authorities arrested Chad Blair, 25, a petty officer with the Coast Guard Air Station on Cape Cod, Mass. Blair admitted posting Klan recruitment flyers in bathrooms at a local airport last March, and now faces a court martial (Blair had been taking anger management courses at the airport relating to a domestic violence charge). The flyers displayed an image of a hooded Klansman on horseback carrying a sword. "This is the time for action," they declared. "Be a TRUE New England Patriot--Join the Klan."
Among the charges Blair faces is possession of explosive material. Investigators also seized seven rifles and pistols from Blair's residence.
Blair was still on active duty at press time, but under orders to remain on the Cape Cod base. According to The Boston Globe, military officials determined that Blair was not posting the fliers as an act of hate against the airport's manager, Quincy Mosby, who is black. But Mosby, an Air Force veteran, strongly condemned the fliers. "It really appalls me seeing someone in a branch of the armed forces promoting that type of behavior," he said.