A group of Senate Republicans sent a letter Wednesday to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin demanding answers over the Department of Defense (DoD)’s recently established Countering Extremism Working Group (CEWG). The lawmakers believe could be used to “target service members who voice opposition to woke, Leftist ideology.”
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio spearheaded the letter, first obtained by the Daily Caller, along with 11 other Senate Republicans.
In it, the lawmakers ask Austin four questions regarding CEWG and the number of extremists the DoD has found within its ranks from January 2011 to November 2021.
The leader of CEWG overseeing efforts to root out domestic extremists in the military tweeted in 2019 that any supporter of former President Donald Trump unequivocally supports extremism and racism.
“Support for him, a racist, is support for ALL his beliefs,” Bishop Garrison, who was appointed by Austin to lead the Countering CEWG, tweeted in July 2019 in reference to Trump. (RELATED: Trump Supporters Unequivocally Support Extremism, According To Pentagon Official Overseeing Efforts To Root Out Extremism)
“The CEWG’s tasks appear to be more in line with an intelligence collection effort focused on service members than an honest effort to improve the DoD,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.
“Identifying and neutralizing extremist threats in, and among our service members, is an important goal,” the senators concluded. “It is imperative that the Biden Administration and the DoD use existing resources to target legitimate threats, not use this working group as a cudgel to harass or silence conservative members of the armed forces.”
Here Are The Questions The Lawmakers Are Asking:
- What type of intelligence collection will the DoD create to monitor these activities and initiatives, and who will monitor them?
- What is your plan to protect service members’ fourth amendment right to due process under the Constitution?
- What safeguards are in place to ensure the CEWG will not have a chilling effect on service members’ willingness to engage in protected political speech?
- How many extremists has the DoD found within its ranks from January 2011 to November 2021?
READ THE LETTER HERE:
The other Republicans who signed the letter included Florida Sen. Rick Scott, North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer, Indiana Sen. Mike Braun, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Sen. John Boozman, Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall, Montana Sen. Steve Daines, Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford and Utah Sen. Mike Lee. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Senate Republicans Demand Hearings On Afghanistan, Sworn Testimony From Secretary Lloyd Austin, General Mark Milley)
The CEWG is tasked with reviewing and updating the DoD’s definition of prohibited extremist activities among uniformed military personnel, Austin said in an April 9 memorandum to senior Pentagon leadership.