In a November 2021 Progressive magazine article, reporter Helen Christophi revealed that Brian P. Haughton, a former member of multiple racist skinhead bands and a past leader in the neo-Nazi movement, now holds an important counterterrorism position in the Department of Justice. Haughton serves as a law enforcement coordinator for domestic counterterrorism in the Middle Atlantic Great Lakes Organized Crime Law Enforcement Network of the Department of Justice’s Regional Information Sharing Systems (RISS).
Michael German, a Brennan Center fellow who investigates neo-Nazis, told Christophi that it is “highly unlikely” that RISS or similar federal employers would have missed Houghton’s neo-Nazi ties while conducting a background check. As Christophi reported, many other white supremacists likely hold powerful positions in law enforcement agencies, especially since neo-Nazi leaders are encouraging their followers to take jobs in the police or military.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Haughton played drums with the Arresting Officers, an influential neo-Nazi band, which was named for the belief that arresting officers had the best jobs since they could assault people of color. He also had connections to members of the Aryan Republican Army, a neo-Nazi gang that robbed twenty-two Midwest banks in the mid-1990s and is suspected of having helped to fund the Oklahoma City bombing. Haughton’s involvement in the Nazi skinhead scene ended around January 1995, when he joined the Philadelphia Police Department, where he worked until December 2017.
Although Haughton’s ideological commitments could have changed since his days as a skinhead, Frank Meeink, a former neo-Nazi leader who knew Haughton and now conducts hate crime trainings, said, “I’m sure he still has these beliefs. You don’t join the cops being racist and then get un-racist.”
Georgetown law professor Vida Johnson told Christophi that police departments are overwhelmingly conservative and white and often give the benefit of the doubt to job applicants with racist or bigoted pasts. “Police underestimate white people as threats,” Johnson said. German, the Brennan Center fellow, observed that a white supremacist “couldn’t prosper in law enforcement agencies if the prosecutors didn’t go along with it, if the judges didn’t go along with it, if the government didn’t go along with it.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has long been aware that white supremacists are infiltrating law enforcement agencies. In 2006, the Bureau disclosed that white supremacists were getting jobs as police officers in order to access intelligence and weapons training. And, in 2015, an FBI counterterrorism policy directive referenced “active links” between white supremacists and law enforcement officials. However, there is little evidence that law enforcement leadership did much in response to these revelations.
Although NPR, the Washington Post and the New York Times, among others, have reported on former or current police officers with ties to white supremacist organizations being charged in connection with the January 6 storming of the Capitol, only the Progressive appears to have reported on the alarming case of the neo-Nazi inside the DOJ.
Helen Christophi, “The Lone Wolf in the Henhouse,” The Progressive, November 18, 2021.
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