SPLC urges Rumsfeld to adopt zero-tolerance policy
Under pressure to meet wartime manpower goals, the U.S. military has relaxed standards designed to weed out racist extremists. Large numbers of potentially violent neo-Nazis, skinheads and other white supremacists are now learning the art of warfare in the armed forces.
Department of Defense investigators estimate thousands of soldiers in the Army alone are involved in extremist or gang activity. "We've got Aryan Nations graffiti in Baghdad," said one investigator. "That's a problem."
Southern Poverty Law Center President Richard Cohen urged Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to adopt a zero-tolerance policy regarding racist extremism among members of the U.S. military.
"Because hate group membership and extremist activity are antithetical to the values and mission of our armed forces, we urge you to adopt a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to white supremacy in the military and to take all necessary steps to ensure that the policy is rigorously enforced," Cohen wrote in a letter to Rumsfeld.
Military extremists present an elevated threat both to their fellow soldiers and the general public. Today's white supremacists become tomorrow's domestic terrorists.
"Neo-Nazi groups and other extremists are joining the military in large numbers so they can get the best training in the world on weapons, combat tactics and explosives," said Mark Potok, director of the SPLC's Intelligence Project.
"We should consider this a major security threat, because these people are motivated by an ideology that calls for race war and revolution. Any one of them could turn out to be the next Timothy McVeigh."