West Point is launching an investigation into how it handled the case of a former student who graduated last year despite the school being alerted by a faculty member of his angry, anti-military, and pro-communist sentiments in 2015.
“There is now a West Point investigation starting,” a West Point spokesperson said in an email, when asked what actions it took after a faculty member reported then-West Point Cadet Spenser Rapone in 2015. “In order to safeguard the investigative process, the U.S. Military Academy is unable to provide a comment at this time.”
Rapone graduated from West Point in 2016 and is currently under investigation by his Army command after he posted pictures of himself last week advocating for communism while in his West Point uniform, which is prohibited by Army regulations.
However, it was unclear whether West Point was aware of his activity as a student until the Daily Caller on Wednesday published a sworn statement from a then-West Point history professor, which mentioned Rapone’s anti-U.S. and pro-communist views.
Retired Army Lieutenant Col. Robert M. Heffington gave the statement after a tense encounter with Rapone, whom he said had a “serious problem with military authority figures.”
Heffington said he shared his misgivings about Rapone with three close friends and colleagues, and one of them showed him Rapone’s Facebook page, which contained a number of anti-military, anti-government, pro-communist, and pro-Muslim posts stemming back to 2014.
“What I saw completely stunned me,” Heffington said. “From his various online rantings and posts, it appears that CDT Rapone is an avowed Marxist, which is completely out of line with the values of this nation and its Army. Moreover, CDT Rapone’s posts indicate he hates West Point, the U.S. Army, and indeed this country.”
West Point let him graduate in May 2016.
On Wednesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a staunch anti-communist, called Rapone a “national security threat.”
“Members of the military who harbor anti-American views and express their desire to harm our country and its leaders are unfit to serve and defend our nation,” he said.
“Spenser Rapone held a security clearance, but he advocated violence against political opponents and expressed admiration for Private Manning, a traitor who provided troves of classified information to Wikileaks. Rapone clearly was and is a national security threat,” he said.
On Wednesday, Rubio, in a letter to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, called on the Army to immediately kick him out, require him to pay back his West Point tuition, and consider revoking his degree.
He also requested “all relevant information” within 30 days regarding West Point’s efforts to ensure cadets “who actively support the destruction of our government do not waste more taxpayer funds.”
Rapone first came under media scrutiny last week after he posted two photos of himself in uniform at his West Point graduation ceremony with a sign that said, “Communism will win,” and another showing he was wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt underneath his uniform.
His Instagram profile also showed he had taken a picture of himself in uniform with a nametag indicating he was a socialist organizer.
West Point said in a statement at the time that “certain expressions of political speech in uniform” were prohibited. It also said Rapone’s chain of command at his current unit, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Drum, New York, was investigating the matter and that they were “prepared to assist … as required.”
According to a Facebook post by Rapone’s father, which has since been deleted, Rapone applied to West Point right out of high school but was rejected.
He then enlisted in the Army, deployed to Afghanistan as an Army Ranger with the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. He was “released for standards,” which means he was released from the regiment due to not living up to standards, conduct, or performance — a black mark on his record.
But he successfully re-applied to West Point with the help of then-U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA), who has since disavowed him.
Rapone attended West Point from 2012 to 2016 and was then assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division. He began Ranger School in February 2017 but did not complete it.
According to SOFREP, he failed one of the phases of the school and became so irate with the school commanders that he was made to start the entire process over, after which he made the decision to leave — another black mark on his record.