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The artist who created Pepe the Frog scores a legal win, Harim Vargas imagines himself as a ‘martyr’ for Trump, and more.

Pepe the Frog is a meme often used by racists, much to his creator’s dismay.

Alt-Right: Hell hath no Furie

The artist who created Pepe the Frog has scored a legal win without having to fire a shot at the hard-to-find neo-Nazi who usurped his character.

In July, Matt Furie, a California-based children’s book producer, forced the website Daily Stormer to remove Pepe from its pages and logos by threatening to sue over copyright violations.

The move comes more than a year after Furie, who created the anthropomorphic frog, vowed to reclaim the peaceful, “feels good man” character from the alt-right and racists who adopted him as a mascot and central character in multiple memes.

Pepe was featured in more than 40 articles on the site, run by notorious racist Andrew Anglin, who has made his whereabouts tough to track as others — including the SPLC — have sued him in federal court.

Louis Tompros, one of the intellectual property lawyers working the Pepe case at the law firm WilmerHale, served Digital Millennium Copyright Act notices to the company it said is hosting The Daily Stormer.

“We had seen for a while that they had been using Pepe images in a few places,” Tompros told Vice.com. “The problem was that they would be up and then their entire site will be down and move somewhere else and reorganize. The reason it takes us longer on this and some of the others is the day their website moves around a bunch.”

While Pepe isn’t completely gone from the Daily Stormer — some articles are gone entirely while others have had the offending images of Pepe modified, removed or replaced with a graphic explaining that the old image has been censored — the number of articles on the site featuring Pepe is now down to four.

Pepe, originally conceived of in 2005 as a laid back, weed smoking frog, became a sensation among the alt-right in 2015 and 2016. Pepe started showing up in racist and antisemitic memes online, prompting Furie to declare Pepe dead at one point.

Furie began fighting to take back Pepe in 2017 when a former assistant vice principal in Texas published an alt-right children’s book called The Adventures of Pepe and Pede.

Furie lawyered up and got the text pulled. The law firm of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP is representing Furie pro bono and has previously pushed white nationalist Richard Spencer to stop using Pepe as the logo for his podcast by sending him a cease and desist letter.

Furie stepped up his legal fight with two lawsuits in 2017. The first, against a Missouri woman, was settled.

The other, against companies owned by Donald Trump supporter and conspiracist Alex Jones and his site, Infowars, is pending in federal court in California.

That lawsuit, which also names Texas-based Free Speech Systems LLC., is against two Texas-based companies managed by Jones, a far-right radio host and promotor of bizarre theories.

At no time, the suit alleges, did Furie give his consent for Pepe to be used by Trump (who was not sued), white nationalists or anyone associated with the alt-right.

But, by 2015, Pepe was the most retweeted meme on Twitter.

In suing Jones, Furie said he became “dismayed by Pepe’s association with white supremacy, anti-Semitism, and the alt-right,” including unauthorized uses of the image by Trump supporters and racist extremists.”

“My client is appalled by the attempts to co-opt Pepe as a symbol of hate,” Tompros told the Intelligence Report. “Matt has made clear that no one has permission to use his intellectual property — including the copyrighted image and character of Pepe the Frog — in connection with hateful messages or images.”

Jones, who is not named personally in the lawsuit filed in early March, has been described as “America’s leading conspiracy theorist” and a member of “an anti-government far right that blames the world’s ills on a grand global conspiracy.”

On his website, Jones responded to the lawsuit by saying he “will not tolerate having Infowars’ name dragged through the mud” by trying to equate his operation with “white supremacists and the alt-right, which adopted Pepe as a mascot.”

The post was accompanied by Jones with Pepe.

Along with the website, Jones runs a radio show syndicated to over 100 stations nationally and it is simulcasted on YouTube.

Jones and his companies also sell a poster prominently featuring the cartoon frog. The poster sells for $29.95, with Jones pitching it as a chance to help “support Infowars in the fight for free speech.”

Furie, in the lawsuit, has a different take. He calls it copyright infringement. Pepe appears alongside Jones, conservative commentator Matt Drudge, political strategist and Trump ally Roger Stone and others.

Also depicted on the poster are infowars.com editor Paul Joseph Watson and Milo Yiannopoulos, the former tech editor for Breitbart News, “both of whom have been associated with alt-right and nativist or white nationalist viewpoints,” according to the lawsuit.

Furie, along with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), launched the #SavePepe campaign in October 2016, a month after ADL added the cartoon to a database of general hate symbols.

Trump and his supporters continued to use Pepe in memes during the presidential campaign, with the GOP candidate posting an Instagram image labeled “The Deplorables,” featuring Pepe standing behind Trump, alongside other supporters of his presidential campaign, according to the lawsuit.

Disappointed with the continued unauthorized use of Pepe in connection with hateful imagery and themes, last May Furie posted an online comic in which Pepe died.

The meme, however, lived on, continually used by hate groups.

Harim Vargas is a middle-aged man from Southern California, a Latino who identifies as a Sephardi Jew.

Anti-Immigrant: Harim Vargas imagines himself as a ‘martyr’ for Trump

There are several names he goes by. To his fellow antigovernment “Patriot” friends, he is Harim Uziel, or sometimes Harim Uzziel — spelled with one z or two. On Facebook, he calls himself “The Hardcore American Patriot.” He also maintains an account under the name “Vicente Gonzales.” Government documents reveal his legal name is Harim Vargas.

In an incident that brought him to the attention of police at Austin’s Bergstrom International Airport in March, he said he might soon be described another way — as a martyr.

Vargas is a middle-aged man from Southern California, a Latino who identifies as a Sephardi Jew. He has written openly about losing his job in late 2016 and being unable to find work after that. Since then, he has become a full-time activist, asking donors to fund his efforts through GoFundMe and PayPal. He praises Donald Trump constantly, and has adopted the president’s bigoted rhetoric on immigrants and refugees.

Vargas has been heavily involved in the push against California’s sanctuary policies for undocumented immigrants and has appeared at numerous protests and public meetings throughout the state. Last year, he and fellow SoCal activist Genevieve Peters attempted to trademark the name “Homies for Trump.” Their application showed they planned to use the name on T-shirts, denim jackets, hats for kids and other types of clothing. The application was dismissed after they failed to respond to correspondence from the federal trademark office.

Vargas was in Texas in early March to speak outside the state capitol for an event titled “March 4 Trump.” There, he railed against “globalists” and refugees and warned the crowd about the Illuminati and “One World Order.”

Later that day, he went to the airport to fly back to California, but things went sideways. While waiting to board his flight, and with a large blue Trump flag draped over his shoulders, Vargas overheard a man walking past his gate call him a vendido — Spanish slang for “sellout.” Vargas jumped into action and ended up following the man through the terminal and yelling at him, broadcasting video of the pursuit on Facebook Live. It only escalated from there.

“Why you call me a nigga?” Vargas shouted as the man walked away. “Do I look like a nigga? Do I look like a nigga? Fuckin’ talk right! Fuckin’ Latinos for Trump, homie!”

By the time Vargas returned to his gate, police had been called. Austin police records show the pilot refused to let him on the flight because of what had just happened. American Airlines employees attempted to book him on a later flight, but a second pilot also refused to let him board. Police officers eventually escorted Vargas out of the secure area of the airport and waited with him as he got a refund at the ticket counter.

“Fascism at its finest,” Vargas said. “But you know what, I’ll be a martyr, ‘cause I love America and I love Trump.”

“I’m willing to die, right here and now,” he said as he waited for his refund.

A police officer nearby just shook her head. He soon left the airport without any more trouble.

LaVoy Finicum was fatally shot during the 2016 illegal takeover of a wildlife refuge in Oregon, only months after he and William Keebler scouted a remote Bureau of Land Management facility in Arizona as part of an intended bomb plot.

Antigovernment: Bomb charges for antigovernment extremist

The late Robert “LaVoy” Finicum — regarded as a hero and martyr in many far-right, antigovernment and extremist circles — was an associate of a militia leader who planned to bomb and destroy a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) facility in Arizona, a federal court case revealed.

Finicum was fatally shot on January 26, 2016, during the illegal armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, led by his friends Ammon and Ryan Bundy.

The trio and other Bundy associates were traveling from the refuge when Finicum reached for a firearm, refusing to surrender after exiting his vehicle at a police roadblock. The incident continues to be a rallying cry for antigovernment zealots who claim his death is proof the U.S. government is at war with its citizens.

What wasn’t publicly known at that time is that just three months earlier, in October 2015, Finicum accompanied Utah militia leader William Keebler during a covert militia surveillance trip to the BLM’s Mount Trumbull complex, located in a remote corner of Arizona near the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument.

Keebler, the self-styled leader of the Patriots Defense Force, wanted to destroy the BLM facility with a bomb to send a message to the U.S. government.


William Keebler, pictured here in Vernon, Utah, is the self-styled leader of the Patriots Defense Force.

Keebler and Finicum were both participants who provided armed support for Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy during the 2014 standoff with federal agents at Bunkerville. After that landmark event, Keebler was intent at striking back at the federal government over its public land policies, court filings say.

Court documents say Keebler and his militia crew contended the “BLM was overreaching its authority to implement grazing restrictions on ranchers” like Cliven Bundy. Keebler expressed the view that federal public lands “belong to the people,” and to back up that viewpoint, his militia would target BLM facilities “in the middle of nowhere,” the documents say.

The 59-year-old militia leader from Stockton, Utah, wanted his militia cell to be ready to take offensive action, so he began recruiting, organizing and training “for the day when they can take part in an anti-government action with other militia groups similar to the event in Bunkerville,” the public filings say.

What Keebler didn’t immediately know is that one of his new militia recruits was an undercover FBI agent who participated in the group’s field training exercises, codenamed “FTX.” During those militia trainings, members would “practice shooting at targets and receive instruction regarding firearms, military [tactics] and survival tactics,” according to the court documents.

Keebler’s militia group scouted out a mosque and military facilities before deciding on the remote BLM facility in Arizona that Keebler and Finicum had surveilled in 2015, the documents say.

During planning for the intended bombing, Keebler was caught on video saying federal authorities are “going to know we’ve had enough,” promising “some of our strikes are going to be loud and dangerous and damaging.”

The undercover FBI agent in the militia group, responding to Keebler’s request, built an inert explosive device and accompanied Keebler during a June 2016 trip to the remote BLM facility. There, Keebler was handed a detonation device, but left dejectedly when the bomb failed to explode. He returned to Utah where he was arrested the next day by FBI agents.

In late April, Keebler confessed in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City that he “attempted to detonate an explosive” device intended to damage the BLM’s facility. A second charge of carrying or possessing a firearm during a crime of violence was dismissed as part of a plea deal he made with prosecutors to avoid a longer sentence if convicted by a jury. Keebler pleaded guilty, was released in July and placed on three years probation

“Wotans Nation” founders Eric Meadows and Angela Johnson.

Neo-Nazi: World of Wontan

A couple with past ties to neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups say they are planning a new, tax-exempt, whites-only community named “Wotans Nation” on a 50-acre rural site in southeastern Tennessee.

Eric Meadows and his wife, Angela Johnson, describe their new organization as a community of white separatists.

Both Meadows and Johnson are former members of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement. Meadows also has past ties with the neo-Confederate League of the South.

The couple’s new venture began in March 2017 when Johnson purchased the rural Tennessee property where site-clearing work was underway, according to a report published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Meadows and Johnson have declined to speak with media representatives but appear to be gathering supporters through a private Facebook page and website.

“Wotans Nation is indeed on the rise!” the group’s private Facebook page boasts to a reported 300 followers.

In a recent development, the group’s webpage says Wotans Nation has applied for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status as a “religious organization.”

The site barely attempts to mask the group’s racist, whites-only component, claiming that it’s intended for “indigenous Europeans” who are interested in living in a “folkish-heathen community.” It is very common for racist “volkisch” groups to co-opt symbols and language from the broader pagan or heathen community to give their racist organizations a veneer of spiritual legitimacy.

There is a “need for our folk to have a place to practice our religion freely, without fear of social stigma and in a healthy and natural environment among other culturally and spiritually similar people,” the site says. “It is in that spirit that the Wotans Nation project has been formed.”

Initially, the group says it will build a religious center or “hof” and a meeting hall, to be followed by community and training centers and “rental cabins for visitors to the project.”

The group makes mention of “1488,” a reference to the “14 words” spoken by the late David Lane, a Wotanist, a one-time Ku Klux Klan leader and imprisoned former member of the neo-Nazi group, The Order. He had ties to the Aryan Nations and was implicated in a series of racketeering crimes, including the 1984 assassination of radio talk show host Alan Berg, who was Jewish.

Meadows served in both the U.S. Army and Navy and has past affiliations with the League of the South. In 2014, when that group discussed forming a secret paramilitary group called the Indomitables, Meadows, who then lived in Rome, Georgia, was named director of training.

Not everyone in Meigs County is welcoming the white supremacists and their planned community, the Chattanooga newspaper reported.

Jason Choate, who owns an auto repair shop near the Wotans Nation property, said he doesn’t think the 12,000 mostly white residents of Meigs County will welcome the Wotans Nation. “Knowing what I do about the people around here, I don’t think they’ll allow it to get up and running,” Choate told the newspaper.

Antigovernment: Sovereign receives 65 years in prison

Saying he wanted to deter sovereign citizens from committing crimes, a New Jersey judge has sentenced a violent criminal to 65 years in prison.

George Gaymon claimed the court had no authority over him because he was a sovereign citizen, but that didn’t stop a jury earlier this year of convicting the 30-year-old defendant of 20 crimes, including two carjackings and an armed robbery.


George Gaymon

State prosecutors William Neafsey and Joseph Perez said Gaymon and his co-conspirator, Mario McClain, “terrorized” Essex County, New Jersey.

The pair stole two vehicles and robbed a gas station before hijacking a third vehicle at gunpoint on March 24, 2014. Three days later, the two used one of their hijacked cars to carry out a fourth carjacking, stealing that driver’s wallet.

They then used the stolen credit cards to make purchases at multiple locations where video surveillance cameras led to their identification and arrest. The crimes occurred in Orange, Newark and Irvington, New Jersey.

McClain struck a plea deal with prosecutors and is expected to get a lighter sentence in exchange. Gaymon must serve 51 years in prison before he’s eligible for parole, authorities say.

Essex County Superior Court Judge Martin G. Cronin said he handed down the consecutive sentences because he “wanted to deter others” from Gaymon’s unorthodox sovereign citizen legal tactics.

This incident is part of a string of cases nationwide involving antigovernment sovereign citizens who commit assorted crimes, then clog the criminal justice system with bogus legal moves, pretending their claims to sovereignty immunize them from prosecution under state and federal laws.

Murder and racketeering are among the charges seven members of the Aryan Circle face.

Violent racist gang: Rise of the Aryan Circle

A racist gang — the Aryan Circle — appears to be rising in prominence after federal and state authorities brought a series of successful prosecutions against a competing organization, the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas.

Federal authorities describe the Aryan Circle as “a powerful race-based, multi-state organization” operating in and out of state and federal prisons in Texas, Louisiana, Missouri and elsewhere.

In March, seven Aryan Circle members and associates were arrested on federal charges. They were accused of being accessories-after-the-fact in the racketeering-related homicide of a fellow gang member in 2016 in Evangeline Parish, Louisiana.

An eighth gang member, Jeremy Jordan, 38, of Orange, Texas, is accused in a federal grand jury indictment of carrying out the murder, but authorities have not publicly divulged details or a motive.

Media accounts, however, say gang member Clifton Hallmark was shot in the head at a July 4 house party with fellow gang members, before being transported to a service station where his companions called 911, only to be tripped up by their made-up story that he had been a robbery victim.

The Justice Department issued a statement saying the Aryan Circle has “emerged as an independent organization during a period of turmoil” within the ranks of Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT), considered one of the largest and most violent racist gangs in the country.

“The Aryan Circle is relatively small in comparison to other prison-based gangs but grew in stature and influence within [the Texas prison system] in the 1990s, largely through violent conflict with other gangs, white and non-white alike,” the Justice Department statement said.

The arrests were announced by Acting Assistant Attorney John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Alexander Van Hook of the Western District of Louisiana. This case was investigated by a multi-agency task force.

The Aryan Circle was formed in the Texas prison system in the mid-1980s and extended its reach into rural and suburban communities in that state, Louisiana and Missouri, with members both in and out of prison.

The indictment alleges the Aryan Circle enforces its rules and promotes discipline among its members, prospects and associates through murder, attempted murder, assault, robbery and threats against those who violate the rules or pose a threat to the organization. Members and associates are required to follow the orders of higher-ranking members without question.

Cliven Bundy and his sons, Ammon and Ryan, have hardly retreated from the public eye since a federal charge dismissed all charges against them.

Sovereign Citizen: Bundy boys at it again

It’s turning into a never-ending saga with the Bundy family.

Since last December, when a federal judge in Las Vegas dismissed all charges against Cliven Bundy and his two sons related to a 2014 armed standoff with the Bureau of Land Management in the desert north of Las Vegas, the family has hardly retreated from public view. Instead, members of the family have gone on speaking tours and announced plans to run for state offices in Nevada. The family is also the focus of a seven-part podcast series produced by Longreads and Oregon Public Broadcasting called “Bundyville.”

In March, Ryan Bundy, Cliven’s oldest son, announced his plans to run for Nevada governor on a states’ rights platform. While his political message is somewhat murky, Bundy has already introduced a litany of conspiracy theories into his campaign, not the least of which are antigovernment “sovereign citizen” ideas. But that’s just the beginning.

In an interview with BuzzFeed in April, Bundy said “chemtrails” are an indication that the federal government is spraying insidious chemicals from aircrafts for nefarious purposes. He has questioned whether former President Obama is an American citizen and said that being gay is “sick and wrong.”

“There shouldn’t be any homosexuality,” Bundy told Buzzfeed. “That is just a disease.”

Meanwhile, Ammon Bundy has hit the road on a speaking tour to preach the family’s message that the federal government has no authority to control public lands.

During a range rights conference in Modesto, California, last April, Ammon Bundy warned a group of ranchers and farmers that “extreme environmentalism” was on the move and claimed “fanatics” were redefining people “as the enemy of environmental progress.”

What’s more, Ammon Bundy, who became the face of the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, said that the people should stop looking to the courts to ensure their rights.

“We have been duped as an American people to believe that the courts is [sic] where we defend our rights,” Bundy said with a voice cracking with emotion. “And I tell you that that is not true, and it never has been. The courts primarily are the takers of rights, and I challenge you to prove that I am wrong.”

FBI agent turned anti-Muslim speaker John Guandolo saw his speaking tour implode this past spring.

Anti-Muslim: Terrorists around every corner

When push comes to shove, disgraced FBI agent turned anti-Muslim speaker John Guandolo falls back on what he knows.

Guandolo took to raging on social media the week of April 5 when, after making the first of five scheduled trainings in the Midwest, the last four were called off. The cancellation coincided with his sidekick walking away.

Guandolo and representatives of his group, Understanding the Threat, and the right-wing media group Worldview Weekend (WW) were supposed to make more presentations on the “threat of the Islamic Movement.”

Local activists, though, intervened resulting in the speaking tour ending.

Guandolo reverted to anti-Muslim conspiracy theories to explain his bad luck. Guandolo and Brannon Howse of WW pointed to a “convergence” between antifa, Marxists and Islamists — also known as the “red-green axis,” a favorite far-right conspiracy.

SPLC highlighted the tour in an April report, and concerns about Guandolo training members of the public were echoed by other civil rights organizations like the Western States Center.

Local groups in Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota also took action to oppose the tour. 

But for Guandolo, those who challenge his bigotry are either terrorists or aiding and abetting terrorists. In fact, Guandolo sees terrorists around every corner. In March, he posted to Twitter a photo of a bearded Southwest Airlines employee with the caption, “I wish this were shocking … a sharia adherent muslim (aka jihadi) at my plane,” complete with the hashtag “#shariakills.” The tweet, which has since been deleted, sparked enough outrage online that Southwest responded on Twitter, calling Guandolo’s post “cruel and inappropriate.”

It appears Guandolo’s tour implosion had larger consequences for UTT. Conspicuously absent from any of Guandolo’s videos about the recent events was his partner Chris Gaubatz. Gaubatz’s bio was removed from the UTT website around the same time as the announcement of the tour cancellation and when he appeared on a WW show on April 8, he didn’t mention his affiliation with UTT. Guandolo confirmed Gaubatz’s exit two days later.

“Chris has resigned from UTT and is moving on, is discerning other decisions in his life, major life decisions about the road he’s going to take, and I just want to say publically that Chris is a great man, he’s been a great asset for this team, a great friend and a great colleague, he will be greatly missed,” Guandolo stated. Gaubatz did not respond to Hatewatch’s request for comment. 

The failed tour and resignation of Gaubatz is the latest in a spate of setbacks for the anti-Muslim speaker. Guandolo’s other business — “training” law enforcement to suspect terrorists in every mosque — dried up following revelations that he punched a Minnesota sheriff at a conference in Reno, Nevada, last year. 

That development led Guandolo to lean on local anti-Muslim groups to help him organize trainings for members of the public. The locally organized rejection of his Midwest tour strongly suggests he might be running out of audiences for his bigoted act.

Marines Michael Chesny and Joseph Manning scaled a building at a pro-Confederate rally to hang a banner bearing the letters “YWNRU.” The abbreviation stands for “You Will Not Replace Us,” a slogan of white nationalist hate group Identity Evropa, coincidentally founded by another former U.S. Marine, Nathan Damigo.

General hate: White supremacy in the ranks of the U.S. military remains a serious problem

In May 2017, Marines Michael Chesny and Joseph Manning scaled a building at a pro-Confederate rally to hang a banner bearing the letters “YWNRU.” The abbreviation stands for “You Will Not Replace Us,” a phrase now widely known for being chanted in the streets of Charlottesville last year during the torch-lit march on the eve of the deadly Unite the Right rally. It’s also the slogan of white nationalist hate group Identity Evropa, coincidentally founded by another former U.S. Marine, Nathan Damigo.

The following September, after the Marine Corps investigated the incident, Manning, a staff sergeant, was recommended for “administrative separation.” At the time, a spokesperson for the Marines said Chesny had received punishment but was still on active duty in North Carolina, where he served as an explosive ordinance disposal technician. He received a general discharge in April, which the Marines confirmed in a statement resulted from the May 2017 banner incident with Manning. But after Chesny’s discharge, he was outed as the man behind the online alias “Tyrone.” Tyrone was an active participant in discussions on the online chat service Discord planning the Charlottesville rally. After the violent events of the day, including the death of anti-racist protester Heather Heyer, Tyrone’s account received media attention for comments made before Unite the Right celebrating mowing down protesters with cars (or, in one post, a combine harvester).

Last May, an investigation by ProPublica revealed another participant in the deadly Virginia rally was also an active duty Marine. Vasillios Pistolis bragged in online chats before the event that he was willing to kill someone “if shit goes down,” and was encouraged by other commenters to use brutal violence against counterprotesters. After the rally, he reveled in the day’s exploits, posting online, “Today cracked 3 skulls open with virtually no damage to myself.”

ProPublica also uncovered Pistolis’ involvement with Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi hate group whose members have been linked to five murders. After the report, a Marine spokesman confirmed the Naval Criminal Investigative Service has opened an investigation into Pistolis to assess the allegations. Less than a month after their initial report, ProPublica followed up with a troubling story that suggested a Marine had raised the alarm about Pistolis to multiple superiors repeatedly, but he never saw anything done to discipline him.

Yet another U.S. Marine is not only a participant in a neo-Nazi organization, but a leader. Dillon Hopper, who left the Marines in early 2017, is the leader of Vanguard America, a group whose presence was conspicuous at the Charlottesville rally. Hopper claims to have been involved in the creation of Vanguard America in 2015, which means he would have been on active duty while establishing the group.

In 2006, the Southern Poverty Law Center published a report raising the alarm about the prevalence of radical right-wing extremism in the military. Facing pressure to recruit more Americans to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, the investigation showed the military was relaxing its standards on extremist activity. In 2012, journalist Matthew Kennard covered this trend in depth in his book, Irregular Army: How the US Military Recruited Neo-Nazis, Gang Members, and Criminals to Fight the War on Terror. In it, he calls the military’s approach to white supremacists in its ranks as “the other ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’”

This problem is in no way limited to just the U.S. Marine Corps — white supremacists have long used all branches of the U.S. military as a means of getting tactical training. In some cases, people are radicalized after they enlist. In the piece exposing the extremist behavior of Pistolis, reporters at ProPublica also revealed they had identified six other members of Atomwaffen Division who were either current or former members of other branches of the military.

The U.S. military does have policies in place to outlaw extremist behavior. According to Marine Corps recruitment policy, for example, any tattoos, ornamentation or behavior that indicates membership in a hate group should disqualify an applicant from enlistment. And the decision to “separate” Manning and Chesny shows these rules prohibiting white supremacist activity can be enforced. But what about Hopper, who was never caught, or Pistolis, whose affiliations were exposed by an outside watchdog? These guidelines and policies still require subjective judgment, and by definition, they relate to beliefs and behaviors that most people choose to keep secret.

Regarding the behavior of each of the Marines mentioned in this article, a series of spokespeople for the Marine Corps shared some variation of this statement:

“Association or participation with hate or extremist groups of any kind is directly contradictory to the core values of honor, courage, and commitment that we stand for as Marines and isn’t tolerated by the Marine Corps. We are proud of the fact that Marines come from every race, creed, cultural background and walk of life. As a service whose strength is derived from the individual excellence of every Marine, those who are unable to value the contributions of each Marine, regardless of background, are destructive to the warfighting capability of an organization that depends on individuals at every level.”

Making that statement a reality is an immense challenge. But the consequences for falling short — such as training a man with views like Chesny’s to use explosives — could be disastrous. Unfortunately, a Marine spokesperson confirmed, the Corps does not collect any data on how many “separations” result from extremist activity, or on how many applicants are dismissed in the recruiting process for white supremacist associations. So, the scope of the problem is, and will remain, unknown.