Bishop Garrison

  • Senior Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Defense on Human Capital and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (2021-22)
  • Was a Counterterrorism Policy Team Member for the Biden-Harris presidential transition team in 2020-21
  • Became head of the Countering Extremism Working Group in 2021
  • Became chief of staff at the Selective Service System in 2022
  • Former Director of National Security Outreach at Human Rights First
  • Served as Deputy Foreign Policy Adviser for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign
  • Claims that America is infested with racism & white supremacy
  • Supports the Black Lives Matter movement
  • Embraces the tenets of The 1619 Project
Additional Resources

Background[1]

Born in Lexington, South Carolina, Bishop M. Garrison Jr. graduated with a B.S. degree in American Legal Studies from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he was a Cadet Company Commander and a member of the Honor Committee. After leaving West Point, Garrison served for five years (2002-2007) in the U.S. Army as a Captain in the Signal Corps. At the same time, he was an intern in the Office of the General Counsel at the U.S. Army Headquarters, a Platoon Leader in Colorado, and an Executive Officer to a Chief of Staff & Command Group Operations Officer.

For his service in the armed forces, Garrison was awarded two Bronze Stars, a Combat Action Badge, and a Meritorious Service Medal. He is also an Operation Iraqi Freedom Army veteran.

Outside the military, Garrison received such awards as the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service, and the DHS Science and Technology Directorate Under-Secretary’s Award for Outstanding Collaboration.

In 2008, Garrison worked at the Public Defender’s Office in Charleston and at Ford Harrison, a labor law firm. In 2009, he was a Program Coordinator for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act program.

In 2010, Garrison graduated from the College of William and Mary Law School, where he served as the Chief Justice of the Honor Council and was a member of the Black Law Students Association. He also graduated from the University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership.

From June 2010 to March 2012, Garrison worked for Deloitte Consulting. He spent the last ten months of that time period on Deloitte’s Leadership Advisory Board.

From March to November 2012, Garrison was an 

From July 2013 to April 2014, Garrison, a Democrat, worked for the Barack Obama Administration as 

From April to November of 2014, Garrison was 

From November 2014 to June 2016, Garrison was an 

Garrison was also a member of the Obama Administration’s National Security Leadership Workshop, a program aimed at developing future leaders in the national security community.

After leaving the Obama Administration, Garrison served as a 

From February 2017 to August 2018, Garrison was a 

Garrison sat on the Advisory Board of “Protect the Investigation,” an initiative by which a coalition of leftwing organizations sought to advance Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 2017-2019 probe into the subsequently-disproven narrative that Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign had colluded with the Russian government. Notwithstanding the fact that the Mueller investigation failed to find any evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia, Garrison claimed in September 2020 that the failure hold Russia accountable for its alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election may have been America’s most serious foreign policy blunder in a century.

From March 2019 to February 2021, Garrison was Director of National Security Outreach at Human Rights First, a left-wing organization advocating on behalf of refugees and asylum seekers.

Garrison was also co-founder and President (2018-2021) of the Joseph Rainey Center for Public Policy, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that focuses its efforts on five policy areas: energy; healthcare; free and fair elections; national security; and innovation and technology. The Center’s website says: “We believe that America is best served when its policies are crafted by those who reflect the diversity of the American people. We’re a place where women, minorities, and mavericks come for leadership development, policy research, and a sense of community.”

From August 2018 to March 2019, Garrison worked in various leadership capacities at the left-leaning Truman National Security Project.

From August 2020 to January 2021, Garrison served as a

From February 2021 to March 2022, Garrison was the Senior Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Defense (Lloyd Austin) on Human Capital and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

On March 17, 2022, Politico reported that Garrison had become Chief-of-Staff at the Selective Service System.

In addition to his aforementioned activities and affiliations, Garrison has also served on the Board of Directors of the Council for a Livable World (CLW) as well as several other nonprofits.

Garrison & Race

Convinced that the United States is thoroughly infested with systemic racism, Garrison has emphasized the significance of “intersectionality” and has embraced author Ta-Nehisi Coates’ demand for race-based reparations for black descendants of slaves.

Alleging That Ron DeSantis Is a Racist

Garrison objected in August 2018 when the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Florida, Ron DeSantis, described his black Democrat opponent, Andrew Gillum, as “a charismatic candidate” and “an articulate spokesman for … far-left views,” and then added: “The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state. That is not going to work. That’s not going to be good for Florida.” Asserting that DeSantis’ use of the word “monkey” was “absolutely racist,” Garrison said: “To defend the statement is to defend racism.”

Claiming That Donald Trump Is a Racist

In July 2019, Garrison argued in a series of Twitter posts that then-President Donald Trump was irretrievably racist, and that all Trump supporters, by definition, supported extremism. Some examples of those tweets included the following:

  • “Silence from our Congressional leaders is complicity. He [Trump] is only going to get worse from here, & his party and its leadership are watching it happen while doing nothing to stop it. Support for him, a racist, is support for ALL his beliefs.”
  • “He’s [Trump is] dragging a lot of bad actors (misogynist, extremists, other racists) out into the light, normalizing their actions. If you support the President, you support that. There is no room for nuance with this. There is no more ‘but I’m not like that’ talk.”

Garrison also took issue with President Trump’s criticisms of the four nonwhite, far-left left congresswomen who comprised the so-called “Squad” in the House of Representatives – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida TlaibIlhan Omar, and Ayanna Pressley. In a July 16, 2019 tweet, for instance, Garrison said of Trump: “Please, just call it racism. They are young leaders & WoC [women of color] in the 21st century facing racism led by the President of the United States.”

Warning of White Supremacy & Embracing The 1619 Project

On July 19, 2019, Garrison tweeted: “White supremacy is a global terror threat and needs to be treated as such.”

Garrison laid out a manifesto of sorts in an August 20, 2019 post at Inkstick Media, which he wrote after a series of mass shootings in the U.S. and overseas that he regarded as racially motivated. In that piece, Garrison characterized white racism, white supremacy, and white nationalist extremism as “existential” and potentially “nation-ending” threats that could only be curbed by heavily funded “Combating Violent Extremism” (CVE) government programs facilitating “difficult, uncomfortable” conversations about race and privilege. Some noteworthy excerpts:

  • “This hatred of communities of color and other vulnerable groups didn’t appear overnight. Its heritage is deeply rooted in slavery, the treatment of African slaves, and the continued struggle of the black American community for equal treatment. Now, arguably more than at any time in recent history, we need to recognize that extremism, racist policies, and white supremacy stand as existential threats not only to American life but to the future of our country and others around the globe. It’s time we have very real, very honest, and potentially very awkward conversations about race, the role it has played throughout American history, and what we are going to do to reconcile our past and protect our future.”
  • “Today, as immigrants of color continue to serve as scapegoats for the ills of American society, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has proposed a new rule that would allow landlords to use algorithms during the housing application review process — as a proxy for immutable traits otherwise protected by law: race, gender, and disability. These policies, which would apply to situations in which evidence of direct, intentional discrimination does not exist, would ultimately undermine, and perhaps near-completely impede, the ability of tenants to bring disparate impact discrimination claims against landlords…. At the same time, the algorithms used would likely result in a disproportionately negative impact on protected tenants – partly because they provide cover to racist people who want to exclude black renters … [W]e’re still finding ways — new ways, in the technological age — to discriminate.”
  • “The country’s horrific history on race and its continued refusal to engage these problems head-on has exacerbated the issue to the point of a violent crisis. This crisis continues to seep into our state and local domestic policies, our technologies, the algorithms of social media companies, and (potentially) our future like a corrosive poison contaminating a water table. We will continue to face the nation-ending threat of white supremacy and white nationalist extremism unless we invest in Combating Violent Extremism (CVE) programs, which this [Trump] administration has cut, and find the courage to have honest-to-God difficult, uncomfortable conversations in our homes and communities about our history of race and privilege in America and how it has shaped our lives today.”

Garrison also used his August 2019 essay to defend The New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project, which he described as “a series of opinion pieces, poetry, essays, and historical works designed to inform readers on the treatment and history of slavery, segregation, and Jim Crow laws in America.” Each part of the 1619 Project, wrote Garrison, “highlights not only past atrocities and injustices experienced by black Americans, but ongoing systemic issues that have plagued the nation from its original sin of slavery into the present day. It’s an important effort that may very well shape the dialogue around race, inclusion, and the need for steadfast policies that may one day fill the discriminatory gaps in our society and help heal the country.”

Opposition to the 1619 Project, added Garrison in his essay, is a kind of defensive racism practiced by white people: “While pundits clutch pearls and attempt to convince us that the 1619 Project is a lie, that it’s really white society under attack, and that we’re in a post-racial society because we once had a black man [Barack Obama] as president, more racialized white supremacists will shoot up schools, markets, stores, and places of worship to assert their ideology…. We must not run from engagement with each other; the change we desire can be achieved through heartfelt, frequently difficult, and awkward conversations among family, friends, and neighbors about race and its continued impact on our lives. Reading the 1619 Project is a good place to start.”

Defining “Extremism”

On May 5, 2021, Revolver News reported that “Extremism and Insider Threat in the DoD” — a leaked March 27, 2021 memo from DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — recommended the designation of a brand-new threat category called “Patriot Extremism,” which arises when a citizen “holds that the US government has become corrupt, has overstepped its constitutional boundaries, or is no longer capable of protecting the people against foreign threats.” “On these grounds,” continues the memo, “they refuse to accept the government’s authority to tax or govern them.”

The Revolver News report adds: “’Patriot Extremism’ is completely distinct from ‘White supremacy,’ which DARPA maintains as a wholly separate category…. DARPA’s ‘Symbols of Extremism’ collage on page 6 clearly reveals their intended target: the collage includes 12 ‘far-right’ symbols, versus just two Antifa symbols, and just one for ISIS. ‘Extremist’ ‘far-right’ symbols include Pepe the Frog, the OK hand gesture, ‘Come and Take It’ guns-rights memes, and the ‘Q’ in QAnon.”

Contrary to Garrison’s claim that “extremism” by white people constitutes a major threat to the safety of Americans, Revolver News points out the following vital facts: “Of the 16,425 murders in 2019, just 38 involved ‘right-wing extremists, including White supremacists.’ 38. That is 0.02% of murders. Surely, Bishop Garrison is aware of this 38 number; it comes from the ADL, with whom Bishop Garrison appears to be buddies…. So ‘mass shooters’ now serves as the pretext for the Pentagon Opinion Police. But without getting too deep into crime statistics, let’s just say the ‘Mass Shooter’ profile does not resemble Bishop Garrison’s ‘top threat to national security,’ if that threat is supposed to be White supremacy.”

Accusing America of Systemic Racism — a Charge That China Would Later Parrot

In early June 2020 — as the violent George Floyd riots were ravaging city after city across the United States — Garrison co-authored an op-ed titled “An Appeal to the National Security Community to Fight Racial Injustice” in Foreign Policy magazine, claiming that the U.S., if it continued to “accept the ongoing murder of innocent black people,” would no longer be able to claim moral authority vis-a-vis the international community. Said the piece:

“It is time for this great community to explicitly and collectively turn serious attention and energy to the issue that fundamentally threatens our ability to protect U.S. national security: racial injustice and inequality at home. The United States cannot claim to be a beacon of freedom in the world if it continues to witness and accept the ongoing murder of innocent black people. Unless the country makes fundamental changes, cities and communities will continue to be torn apart through over-policing and abuse, economic and racial inequity, and other persistent legacies of racism—all undermining both the United States’ ability to function as a society and its credibility on the global stage.

“The United States has a long history, beset by a sharp contrast between those who enjoy the promise of a better life and others who bear the brunt of ongoing iniquity and heinous treatment. In such an environment, it is impossible to build any true national consensus and to sustain the resources needed to pursue national security priorities. True consensus means engagement with all parts of society, not just those let into the halls of influence. And as the United States—244 years after its founding—continues to struggle to live up to its creed of equality and inclusion, the credibility which the national security community needs to address global issues of injustice, human rights, peace, stability, democracy promotion, and the rule of law is fundamentally undermined. If the national security community only seeks to address global threats but refuses to confront the sins that hide in plain sight at home, there will never be lasting progress in either area. […]

“The United States faces a historic moment that provides an opportunity for the national security community to both discuss and act on the issues of race and extremism—and how they affect our security, diplomatic relationships, and credibility abroad. The racism that threatens lives and security will not magically vanish. It will not draw back or resolve itself. It must be cut out like the cancer it has been for so long.”

Chinese Communist Party officials eventually parroted these same themes ideas during a March 2021 summit in Alaska between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi, and China’s State Councilor Wang Yi. In that meeting, Blinken criticized China’s “might-makes-right, winner-takes-all” attitude as a force that tended to create a “much more violent and unstable world,” while Sullivan accused China of conducting an aggressive “assault on basic values.” Yang responded by warning against U.S. “interference” in China’s internal affairs, stating that his country would not accept such “unwarranted accusations,” while mocking America’s own human rights record and domestic stability. “We hope the United States will do better on human rights,” said Yang. “China has made steady progress in human rights and the fact is, there are many problems within the United States regarding human rights, which it has itself admitted. The challenges facing the U.S. in human rights are deep-seated and did not just emerge over the last four years. For our two countries, it is important that we manage our respective affairs well, instead of deflecting the blame on someone else in this world.” Yang added that the U.S. should “change its own image” and acknowledge that “many people within the United States actually have little confidence in the democracy of the United States.”

Support for Black Lives Matter

In a June 9, 2020 tweet, Garrison attacked “the deafening silence of veteran service organizations” that had failed to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

Warning of “White Extremism” & “White Supremacy”

In an August 2020 interview titled “What Does White Supremacy Mean for U.S. National Security?” with Public Radio International’s The World, Garrison had the following exchange with host Carol Hills:

Interviewer: Bishop, in your years first in the Army and then in national security roles, what experiences did you have that convinced you that systemic racism can undermine national security?

Garrison: Well, the biggest things I’ve witnessed thus far is just the predominance of White supremacy, of the continued rise of it, particularly here in recent years, as we’ve had opportunities to engage it directly. But we’re also seeing internationally, kind of across the world in authoritarian regimes, a resurgence of these types of hate speech, of violent action and rhetoric directed at vulnerable communities, particularly minority communities, communities of color. So, and this is something that just didn’t happen within the last few months or few years. This has taken some time over the last decade plus to persist, and as much we’ve just seen a lack of proper engagement on it. So this is something that is going to take the totality of the national security apparatus to engage. I’m hoping we’re going to have an opportunity to do so soon.

Interviewer: Can you name some experiences or instances that you experienced directly that you feel were missed opportunities or that were simply ignored or not engaged upon?

Garrison: No, for me, my own personal experiences, the biggest things have been more about inherent bias, and underlying prejudice. I’ve never had anyone directly engage me and call me an outright racist name. I’ve never had anyone attack me based on any immutable traits. What I will say is I’ve walked into more than one room and been the only African-American to speak on a variety of issues in professional settings. […]

Interviewer: How does racism fit into the larger context of threats to national security?

Garrison: So, the biggest thing we’re seeing right now is violent White extremism, White supremacists. They see their race, and they see themselves as the White race, they see themselves as naturally above other people, within the world. We’re starting to see them act out in violent ways. We’ve had more mass shootings with affiliations to that particular demographic than we’ve had to international terrorism. So having these types of thoughts, having them perpetuated, and even still, having high-level individuals who are pushing these kinds of thoughts through policy and through rhetoriconly enabling these folks that are going to go out and act in aggressive, violent manners to do so.

More Accusations of Racism

In December 2020, Garrison wrote: “Sometimes, when I walk into a room — a conference room, a board room, an auditorium, a lecture hall — I count the Black and brown faces, all the ones I can find. I didn’t set out to create this practice. It happened one day, and I found it impossible to stop. I believe it grew out of some underlying level of shock that I knew I shouldn’t have. The number of Black and brown faces in the national security apparatus is anemic, thin. And I’m well aware I’m not the only professional in the District, let alone America, to have this reaction when finding themselves in a setting void of others whose experiences reflect their own lives.”

The Countering Extremism Working Group’s Crusade Against Thought-Crimes

In an April 9, 2021 memorandum, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin appointed Garrison to lead the Countering Extremism Working Group (CEWG) and oversee efforts to purge perceived racists and domestic extremists from the U.S. military. “The vast majority of those who serve in uniform and their civilian colleagues,” said Austin in the memo, “do so with great honor and integrity, but any extremist behavior in the force can have an outsized impact.”

The first task assigned to Garrison’s CEWG was to create a definition of extremism for the military. That definition, in turn, would be used to prohibit “extremist activities among uniformed military personnel,” ask recruits about “previous extremist behavior,” and urge veterans to report “any potential contact with an extremist group.” Then, the Uniformed Military Code of Justice would be used to punish recruits and existing personnel who were found not to have adequately confessed such transgressions and offending affiliations.

At a Center for American Progress seminar on April 21, 2021, Garrison, in a discussion about extremism, inadvertently revealed that the goal of CEWG was thought-control, when he said: “That we understand that this type of [extremist] ideology — excuse me, this type of behavior — is not acceptable, and it goes against the health, the readiness, the morale of the total force, as well as the good order and discipline of units.”

It would also be necessary, said Garrison, to police comments that military recruits and personnel may have previously made on social media platforms: “Again, I’ve already mentioned the screening capabilities, but looking potentially at publicly available information. What we’re talking about, how we can address issues that take place on social media, trying to build both processes and policies around that.”

Garrison’s Views on Various Key Matters

Supporting Antifa

In July 2020, Garrison defended the Marxist and anarchist Antifa rioters in Portland, Oregon, insisting that the bedlam they were creating constituted nothing more than a “peace demonstration against racism.”

Climate Change

In 2018, Garrison published an article claiming that the U.S. President has a “constitutional responsibility to confront climate change” with a sense of urgency “as a national security threat.” He concluded the piece by saying: “Inaction represents a dereliction or abdication of that duty that Congress must address through its own constitutional duty. The future of American security, economic stability and growth, and the nation’s ability to be a global leader rests, in part, on how the government addresses climate change.”

Immigration

In a September 2017 article, Garrison argued in favor of a weakened approach to immigration enforcement, including amnesty for illegal migrants who first arrived in the United States as minors. Wrote Garrison:

“They were kids, guys. That’s where we should all start with this. If you hear DACA or Dreamers, think kids. Children. Little people who were brought to this country whether they wanted to be here or not. They were forced to come here, And they lived quietly with the uncertainty and stress and fear of deportation for many years. Then, in June 2012, the Obama Administration granted them a reprieve through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. If they met multiple criteria checks they could have their deportation temporarily placed on hold for two years. The idea is that these children, these kids, be allowed, even encouraged, to become fully functioning, productive members of society while also attempting to become permanent, lawful citizens. They grew roots in the community, had families, and lived their lives. That’s it. The entire thing. So while they fight for citizenship, what do we get? First RespondersDoctors, and Service Members. Basically, on average, Dreamers are pretty badass people. No, correction: they’re badass Americans. And now they’re living in fear of being pushed out of the only place many have ever called home.”

Gun Control

In 2014, Garrison called for a complete ban on standard-capacity magazines and popular classes of rifles that were in common use among private U.S. citizens. He also advocated mandates requiring that all antique, curio, and relic firearms be rendered no longer operational, so as to remove any threat they might pose.

Election Reform

In 2019, Garrison spoke at a press conference in support of the “For the People Act,” proposed Democratic legislation that would have the effect of greatly decreasing the integrity of American political elections.

Footnotes

  1. The key resources for the information contained in this section include: Linkedin.com, Law.wm.edu, and NationalSecurity.gmu.edu.

Additional Resources