Last September, a West Point cadet’s pictures of himself at his graduation ceremony flaunting his devotion to communism made national headlines and sparked fury from current and former soldiers. Spenser Rapone posted pictures on social media in which he was wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt under his uniform and wrote “communism will win” under his cap. This was really the least of it as a deeper dive into Rapone’s social media profiles revealed that he does not support the U.S. Constitution and believes that our government cannot be reformed and must be destroyed so that a communist government can be erected in its place.
SOFREP reported on Spenser Rapone at the time in an article titled, “The Calls are Coming From Inside the House: America’s Communist Insider Threat.” At the time, SOFREP spoke to a former Delta Force Sergeant Major who expressed concern because West Point is the feeder mechanism to put officers into the Ranger Regiment and Special Forces, which in turn acts as a feeder for JSOC units like Delta. By Rapone’s own admission, he followed a communist philosophy advocated by Rudi Dutschke.
Dutschke advocated a strategy he called the, “long march through the institutions of power.” This entails burrowing inside the institutions of society, including the military, and subverting them from within and ultimately setting the conditions for a communist revolution. As we’ve seen in the recent past, ideological actors working inside the system such as Edward Snowden can do a tremendous amount of damage to national security. The idea of an avowed communist subverting important military units and functions from within has the potential to be catastrophic.
LTC Robert Heffington was a West Point teacher who had numerous negative encounters with Rapone and after learning that the cadet was a Marxist, wrote a sworn statement about his concerns. It reads in part:
At, best, Cadet Rapone’s online ideological screeds reveal the philosophical infatuations of a precocious adolescent, rather like a school boy who cannot stop spouting off about Nietzsche. The “misunderstood” and “persecuted” young genius shouts truth to power by cobbling together ideas and quotations popping up in chat rooms or on Facebook walls, certain that his provocative and shocking proclamations will, based solely upon their vehemence and sarcasm, demonstrate both the profound sincerity and the unassailable correctness of his viewpoints. This phase tends to be ephemeral, the erstwhile youthful firebrand eventually emerging from the self adulatory fog after eye-opening encounter with equally brilliant people articulating cogent, well-supported, and entirely contrary arguments, or having gained sufficient life experience to illustrate the fundamental interpretive emptiness that renders any strictly Manichaean worldview emotional unfulfilling and analytical bankrupt. At worst, however, Cadet Rapone’s statements bespeak either a severe mental or psychological disorder, or a genuine commitment to values and ideals wholly at odds with those of West Point and the Army.
After Rapone outed himself as a communist actively involved in a political project of subverting the military, it was announced by the Army that he was being investigated but the outcome was unknown until recently. SOFREP had a series of somewhat surreal e-mails with the Department of Defense about his status. An Army public affairs officer simply told us, “Privacy restrictions preclude us from discussing what, if any, actions may be taken against 2LT Rapone as a result of the administrative investigation, as well as the findings and recommendations of the investigation.”
We pressed them regarding DOD policies regarding communists serving in the ranks. The public affairs officer said they would research this and get back to us. In a few days they replied that according to AR 600-20, members of the armed forces may not belong to extremist groups. We then asked how DOD accounts for service members who may not be members of extremist organizations but may follow decentralized strategies such as Dutschke’s “long march through the institutions” or Abu Mu’sab al-Suri’s “Open Front” strategy? Curiously, we received no reply.
Recently, Spenser Rapone re-tweeted a post on Twitter which announced that he would be speaking at a socialist event in July as he was being processed out of the Army this June with an other than honorable discharge. This was likely the harshest punishment the Army could give Rapone unless they decided to charge him with something like sedition. With an other than honorable discharge, Rapone will not be entitled to VA benefits, the GI Bill, and may have difficulties in finding employment.
As an avowed communist, one who is networked with other like-minded individuals, he may find a bit of a safety net after he is discharged from organizations he associates with such as the Democratic Socialists of America Veterans Working Group, which is reputed to be about 150 members strong. None the less, Rapone’s political decisions and judgments will likely follow him long after he separates from the military.
A recently retired CIA officer remarked to SOFREP that right now our counter-intelligence is so bad that we are only catching the dumb ones, the people stupid enough to out themselves on social media or who mail classified documents to news outlets, leading one to wonder how many more are out there that our government is completely unaware of.
Featured image: Then cadet Spenser Rapone at his West Point graduation. | By Spenser Rapone, via Twitter (@punkproletarian)