Congress Wants to Put Hate-Group Ban Into Law

Rick Maze, Navy Times, October 21, 2009

The job of recruiters could get tougher as a result of a provision in the compromise 2010 defense policy bill that bars enlistment of anyone who has been an active participant in an extremist group.

This would include any groups advocating discrimination based on race, sex, creed, religion or national origin, especially if the group advocates to the use of violence–something recruiters will have to screen for if the bill becomes law.

Participation in such groups already is prohibited for current service members by regulation, but the compromise defense bill, HR 2647, also puts the prohibition into law.

The House of Representatives gave final approval to the bill two weeks ago and the Senate is expected to take the bill up in the next few weeks.

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The House-passed plan called for the immediate discharge of anyone associated with a hate group. For current service members, the House plan had an exception from immediate discharge if a person had previously renounced their membership in a hate group. No exceptions were allowed for recruits who had been associated with hate groups, so even if they had renounced their membership they would have been barred from enlisting.

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Generally, Defense Department policies have determined that active participation in an extremist group is any involvement that furthers the group’s aims, which could be leadership, organizing, fundraising or attending public meetings or demonstrations, even when off-duty.

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