Pentagon distances itself from company investigating military 'extremism' by analyzing web searches
Founder has ties to Obama Foundation and other controversial groups
The Pentagon on Wednesday denied it "secured the services" of Moonshot CVE, an extremism analysis company that considers the web search "the truth about Black Lives Matter" and others to be signs of interest in or engagement with White supremacism.
Defense One reported last month that Moonshot CVE, which has ties to the Obama Foundation, was working on data that would identify which military bases and branches had the most troops searching for domestic extremist content. While that particular project's contours were unclear, the company had released a June report, in conjunction with the left-leaning Anti-Defamation League, on purported "White supremacy trends in the United States."
In it, the U.K.-based company reported it "monitored a list of almost 1,600 indicators of interest in or engagement with White supremacism, focused specifically on anti-Black and anti-Semitic narratives being used by extremist groups." As examples, it listed the search phrases "George Floyd deserved to die," "Jews will not replace us" and "the truth about black lives matter."
"The Department of Defense Countering Extremism Working Group has not secured the services of Moonshot CVE to assist them in their efforts to help better understand the scope and scale of extremism in the ranks. Further, their work is focused on extremist behavior and conduct, not ideology," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told Fox News. He acknowledged the company had a previous working relationship with the U.S. Military Academy West Point.
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As examples, it listed the search phrases "George Floyd deserved to die," "Jews will not replace us" and "the truth about black lives matter."
For "the truth about black lives matter," the group said: "This search suggests that the BLM movement has nefarious motives, and is a disinformation narrative perpetuated by White supremacist groups to weaponize anti-BLM sentiment."
It adds: "While the search phrase appears innocuous, several books include it in their title and allege that the BLM movement is ‘joined with Antifa burning and looting.’ These sources echo White supremacist disinformation narratives alleging that BLM protesters are trying to ‘overthrow the republic’ and 'harm American citizens in a Marxist coup,' as a means of delegitimizing it. Multiple videos on YouTube also promote these narratives – in particular the criminalization of BLM – using the identical phrase."
Moonshot did not respond to Fox News' request for comment.
It's unclear why a U.K.-based company would be involved with monitoring purported extremism in the U.S. military. The Center for Security Policy raised concerns about the company in an article last month in which it highlighted how Moonshot CEO Vidhya Ramalingam served as a leader in the Obama Foundation's Europe program.
She also participated in a panel hosted by the highly controversial Southern Poverty Law Center and has ties to other left-leaning organizations. As the Center for Security Policy notes, she authored a paper that acknowledged financial support from Open Society Foundation, the group founded by liberal billionaire George Soros.
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Defense One reported last month that Ramalingam met with the Pentagon's chief diversity officer, among others, but declined to disclose to the outlet the findings in her report on U.S. military bases. She added, however, "When we look at bases for each branch as compared to national averages, there is disproportionately low engagement on most bases.
"Some branches have higher levels of engagement with anti-Black extremism or anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. … But we’re not seeing really heightened levels of engagement that are incredibly worrying."