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Civil rights group warns of neo-Nazis in the US military

Their numbers are small, but unit morale, cohesion, and discipline could be harmed.

By Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / July 11, 2009


The appearance of 40 active-duty US soldiers on a social networking site known as the "fascist Facebook" appears to add credibility to a controversial government report released in April about extremism in the military.

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Presented to congressional committees Friday, the revelations by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) – covered in depth by the military-oriented newspaper, Stars and Stripes – also raises new questions about how serious the Army is about rooting out rank-and-file neo-Nazis – and their potential impact on morale and military discipline.

In contrast to the 12,500 gay service members discharged in the last 15 years because of potential impact on unit morale, SPLC spokeswoman Heidi Beirich says: "There are many people in the military using new technology to put up racist profiles, racist music and ... books that they love that are racist, and as the regulations stand today that's not grounds for being tossed out of the military."

The SPLC, a civil rights organization based in Montgomery, Ala., delivered its report to the House and Senate Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees today. The organization says it found 40 profiles on, a white supremacist site, that could be confirmed as active-duty military members.

"I love and will do anything to keep our master race marching," writes "WhitePride85," who claims on the site to be a 24-year-old staff sergeant from Madison, Wis.

Undersecretary of Defense David Chu has repeatedly told the SPLC that the Army has zero tolerance for racists in the ranks. A 1996 Army directive says soldiers "must reject participation in ... supremacist causes."

Jeffrey Castro, a spokesman for the Army's Criminal Investigation Command at Fort Belvoir, Va., says his command investigates supremacist leanings only in relation to felony accusations. "Being a gang member, for instance," he says, "is not a felony-level crime."