Man Who Took Part in August Violence Holds National Security Clearance

Michael Miselis
Michael Miselis at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Aug. 2017.
Photo courtesy: ProPublica

Michael Miselis, an alleged white supremacist who participated in the violence at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville last August, works for a defense contractor performing sensitive research on behalf of the United States. According to an investigation by ProPublica and Frontline, Miselis holds a government security clearance, granting him access to classified or otherwise delicate information about American national security.

On Aug. 12 in Charlottesville, Miselis was caught on video pushing an African-American counter-protester to the ground and beating him repeatedly during the “Unite the Right” rally. The alleged white supremacist was sporting a red “Make America Great Again” cap, affirming his support for President Donald Trump. Miselis, a 29-year-old Ph.D. candidate in UCLA’s aerospace engineering program, has participated in other violent protests in his home state of California as a member of The “Rise Above Movement,” or R.A.M. The movement is characterized by the Anti-Defamation League as “a white supremacist group based in Southern California whose members believe they are fighting…liberals, Jews, Muslims, and non-white immigrants.”

In addition to his studies at UCLA, Miselis works as a systems engineer at Northrop Grumman, a major aerospace defense contractor — a position for which he received his U.S. government security clearance from the United States Department of Defense. According to ProPublica and Frontline’s investigation, Northrop Grumman has known of Miselis’ connections to R.A.M. and his violent displays in Charlottesville, but has not yet taken action against their employee or pursued a revocation of his official security clearance.

On Thursday, Northrop Grumman released a statement addressing Miselis’ status at the company.

“Northrop Grumman was recently made aware of alleged employee actions that are counter to our values,” the statement reads. “We are taking immediate action to look into the very serious issues raised by these reports…Northrop Grumman is absolutely committed to the highest levels of ethics and integrity in all that we do, and ensuring that our workplace reflects our values of diversity and inclusion.”

UCLA, on the other hand, told ProPublica that Miselis is technically on leave from their aerospace engineering program, though he is still listed as an official candidate for a doctoral degree on their website.

Keegan Hankes, representing the Southern Poverty Law Center, spoke with Frontline about R.A.M. and Miselis’s security clearance, describing it as “ridiculous” that no steps have been taken to strip the alleged white nationalist of his credentials.

“I can’t believe that participation in an organized white supremacist group focused on street-level violence wouldn’t jeopardize your security clearance,” Hankes said. “[R.A.M. is] openly motivated by racism.”

UPDATE 7/6/18: According to ProPublica, Miselis has lost his job just one day after the news organization exposed his ties to R.A.M.


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