Editor’s note: Moonshot CVE is working on a report on extremism in the military with the U.S. Military Academy’s Countering Terrorism Center. It has not yet been awarded any additional work by the Pentagon beyond initial conversations.
The Defense Department, led by controversial diversity chief Bishop Garrison, has commissioned a study to investigate “extremism” in its ranks. But the chosen contractor may raise additional questions for a DOD that is already facing increasing Congressional scrutiny over accusations of politicization.
The U.S. Military Academy reportedly is working with a London, England based firm, Moonshot CVE [Countering Violent Extremism], whose CEO is Vidhya Ramalingam, a former Obama Foundation leader, on the study of extremism in the military. Ramalingam is also the author of a 2013 paper on immigration in Europe funded by a grant from George Soros’ Open Society Foundations.
Ramalingam told Defense One she spoke with Garrison personally last month about how the Pentagon could use technology developed by her company to “find and eliminate extremism in the ranks.”
Why would the Pentagon hire a U.K.-based company to study allegations of extremism in the U.S. military? Why hire a politically connected group like Ramalingam’s?
It suggests that Garrison and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin may be looking for a predetermined answer. A deeper dive into Moonshot CVE might help unravel what they have in mind.
Moonshot CVE co-founder Ross Frenett expressed his support for Critical Race Theory (CRT) on Twitter last month, calling the opposition “Horrifying.” Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley recently faced stiff criticism from congressional Republicans over the military’s recent moves to incorporate CRT elements into their training.
Moonshot CVE’s website dismisses Antifa’s and Black Lives Matter’s Marxist leanings and claims that those who assert its Marxism have engaged in a “white supremacist disinformation” campaign “as a means of delegitimizing it.”
“These sources echo far-right extremist disinformation narratives about BLM protesters trying to overthrow the republic and harm American citizens in a Marxist coup,” Moonshot CVE wrote in a paper jointly published with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
Of course, Antifa and BLM groups haven’t been shy about identifying themselves as Marxists. A popular graphic that circulated on pro-Antifa websites and Telegram accounts during the so-called “George Floyd Rebellion” of June 2020 claimed, “Militant networks will defend our revolutionary communities. Liberation begins where America dies” and the status of BLM founders as self-identified “trained Marxists” has been only discussed in the press.
Ramalingam and her organization claim that Antifa is unorganized, ignoring evidence of significant local, regional and international Antifa networks, and substantial material support from an extensive far-left network (including, as noted above, the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung.) An extensive social media network including utilizing peer-to-peer encryption apps also exist, where BLM and Antifa activists share propaganda and techniques.
Why does Moonshot CVE fixate exclusively on “far-right” extremism, and work to minimize or deny the evidence of left-wing extremism?
One reason might be Moonshot’s apparent association with a German far-Left organization which is overtly pro-Marxist and pro-Antifa, and whose leaders have historical ties to Russian intelligence.
Ramalingam is a regular contributor to programs for an initiative at American University in Washington, D.C. called The Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab (PERIL). She participated in PERIL-sponsored seminars in October 2020, in April, and last month.
PERIL has partnered with The Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung (RLS), the think tank of the German political party Die Linke (The Left). Die Linke is the successor of the former East German communist party. The think tank is named for Rosa Luxemburg, a German Communist revolutionary whose ideas pioneered the Marxist examination of race and gender, and was killed during the 1919 German communist uprising. A 2008 report by the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution calls “the memory” of Luxemburg a “traditional element of Left-wing extremism.”
This alliance could be revealing about Ramalingam’s and PERIL’s ideological orientation.
PERIL’s description of the RSL is misinformation and raised questions about what else it glosses over.
PERIL unsurprisingly omits the fact the organization’s top leaders belonged to East Germany’s ruling party, the Socialist Unity Party (SED) and/or were either employees or informants of the Soviet KGB-run STASI. Many former STASI members shifted their allegiance to the KGB following its disbanding, a defector told “The Washington Post” in 1990. Die Linke is a pro-Russia stalwart. RLS’s representative in Moscow is a woman named Kerstin Kaiser, a former STASI employee who provided reports that were given to the KGB.
Kaiser belongs to the Petersburger Dialogue, along with Andre Brie another RLS leader and former STASI employee. Vladimir Putin and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, an important figure in Russia’s controversial Nordstream 2 pipeline, created the group in 2001 to foster closer Russian-German relations.
“It stands in the tradition of the workers’ and women’s movements, as well as anti-fascism and anti-racism,” PERIL says on its website.
Given that The Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung was founded in 1990 after the fall of the Berlin Wall, —known officially as the “Antifascist Protection Barrier”— one might have questions about what “traditions” of antifascism the group actually stands for.
Miller-Idriss and Ramalingam both participated in a conference in Jena, Germany called “Hate Not Found” sponsored by the Institute for Democracy and Civil Society last December where Miller-Idriss was the keynote speaker. Rosa Luxemburg Foundation member Maik Fleilitz was on a panel at the conference that discussed “deplatforming the far-Right.”
Ramalingam and Miller-Idriss both contributed articles to a journal on “radicalization” on the Far-Right in November of 2020.
RLS’s global head Dagmar Enkelmann belonged to the SED and the East German parliament before the wall fell. Gregor Gysi, who helped open the RLS’s New York office in 2012 and who visited last month, headed the SED when it rebranded itself as the “Party of Democratic Socialism” in December 1989. Gysi allegedly informed on his legal clients to the STASI. A bloc in the German Bundestag expelled him in 1992 for seeming to defend the STASI.
STASI informants played a key role in promoting the climate of fear that kept East German society under control. RLS hosted former East German spy chief Werner Grossmann in 2010 for a talk on his book.
East Germany’s last Premier Hans Modrow is an RLS member, and the RLS manages his foundation, The Hans Modrow Stiftung. Modrow had close KGB ties, including to KGB Chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov, who ran the Soviet spy agency his tenure as Dresden Communist Party boss. Modrow supervised the dismantling of the STASI together with Grossmann. Today, Modrow received the Order of Friendship from the Vladimir Putin in 2017. He remains embittered toward Mikhail Gorbachev for allowing the collapse of the East German regime.
As a young KGB major, Putin supervised a local STASI office in Dresden, while Modrow was the local party boss.
RLS funded Antifa activities in Germany, and Die Linke openly supports Antifa. The Hamburg, Germany Antifa chapter even promoted a Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung panel on its Facebook page. Friedrich Burschel, editor of “Antifascitisiches Info Blatt,” advises the foundation on subjects related to right-wing extremism and fascism at the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. “Antifascitisiches Info Blatt” ̶ the oldest ANTIFA publication, having first entered publication in 1987 in East Berlin ̶ publishes articles on the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung-funded website Linksnet, a collaboration of far-Left magazines.
The RLS hosted two BLM founders, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi in 2014 and 2015 respectively. Garza attended the RLS-sponsored “Mapping Socialist Strategies” seminar in August 2014. RLS leader and former “unofficial STASI employee” Michael Brie spoke at this event. His brother Andre Brie spoke at a 1994 “Committees of Correspondence for Liberation and Socialism” conference along with Angela Davis, who has become influential in BLM. Davis worked closely with the East German regime in the 1970s, and she was a guest of honor at an event sponsored by Die Linke a decade ago. RLS’s New York office hosted BLM propagandist Shaun King in 2017.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is another PERIL partner who Ramalingam has worked with. The SPLC also has received money from the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung. The SPLC is an extremely controversial organization which has been accused by its own former employees of bias and deliberately overinflating supposed far right threats for fundraising. SPLC has defended Antifa. Former SPLC Intelligence Project Director Heidi Beirich and SPLC Intelligence Project Senior Analyst Evelyn Schlatter participated in a June 2017 RLS-sponsored session in New York called “Strategies Against the Far Right.” Ramalingam and Beirich are both advisory group members of a pan-European “anti-radicalization” project called The DARE Consortium. In October, Ramalingam, Beirich and Miller-Idriss collaborated on a podcast on countering extremism sponsored by the ADL.
Moonshot CVE’s alliance with RLS-backed PERIL reinforces the perception that the Biden Pentagon’s hunt for extremism actually is an excuse for classifying dissenting view as “extremist.” And the pro-Russian/ex-STASI controlled RLS’s endorsement of the same talking points as Moonshot CVE shows it comes from a far-Left extremist perspective. U.S. troops shouldn’t be subjected to ideological warfare.
The fact Moonshot CVE equates opposing Antifa with extremism reminds us that this company doesn’t deserve taxpayer money or the Pentagon’s cooperation.
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