The US military’s Special Operations Command reinstated its head of diversity following an investigation that concluded there were no violations of laws or Defense Department regulations in controversial social media posts, including one comparing former President Donald Trump to Hitler.
Richard Torres-Estrada was reassigned to a new job shortly after he was brought in as the Chief of Diversity & Inclusion for US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) in March because of a series of social media posts. The contents of the investigation were not released, but the spokesman said Torres-Estrada could resume his position because the posts were made before he was hired and USSOCOM is forbidden from reviewing the social media history of applicants.
One post from June 20 of last year showed Trump holding a Bible in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church next to an altered picture of Hitler holding a Bible in front of a crowd. Torres-Estrada commented in Spanish, “Let me leave this here for you and slowly back away (while I continue to work from home).”
Another post from February on Torres-Estrada’s Facebook page said Republican Sen. Ted Cruz was “MISSING” after he left his home state for Cancun, Mexico, as Texas suffered widespread power outages.
Following the investigation, a spokesman for USSOCOM said the posts did not violate DoD policies, and Torres-Estrada could resume his position. Spokesman Ken McGraw did not say to what position Torres-Estrada had been reassigned during the investigation, but he did remain within USSOCOM.
“Mr. Torres-Estrada has resumed the duties of the Chief of Diversity & Inclusion for United States Special Operations Command after a USSOCOM commander-directed investigation into the circumstances surrounding his hiring concluded and found no violations of law or DoD regulation,” McGraw said. “USSOCOM is confident in the hiring process and Mr. Torres-Estrada’s potential to fill this important position.”
The USSOCOM commander called for the investigation into the posts, which were made before Torres-Estrada was hired.
When asked why Torres-Estrada’s public social media posts had not been screened or reviewed as part of the hiring process, McGraw said, “USSOCOM’s civilian workforce is hired and managed in accordance with Department of the Air Force procedures, which specifically prohibit the screening of candidates’ social media during the hiring process and requires adherence to the merit-based system principles codified in law.”
USSOCOM announced the hire of Torres-Estrada in late March, writing on Twitter, “We look forward to his contribution in enhancing the capabilities and effectiveness of (Special Operations Forces) through diversity of talent, helping us recruit the best of the best.” Within days of the announcement, Torres-Estrada had been reassigned pending the results of the investigation.