Watchdog group urges Congress to investigate racist extremists in the military

The Southern Poverty Law Center has called on Congress to investigate growing evidence that racist extremists are infiltrating the U.S. military and to ensure the armed services aren't inadvertently training future terrorists.

In a letter [pdf] sent today to the chairs of House and Senate Homeland Security committees and Armed Services committees, the Birmingham, Ala.-based SPLC says current Pentagon policies appear inadequate to prevent racial extremists from joining and serving in the armed forces. As the watchdog group reports on its website:
In recent months, SPLC investigators found approximately 40 personal profiles that listed "military" as an occupation on the Internet forum New Saxon, which is operated by the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement. One individual, who claims to be serving in Afghanistan, lists as his favorite book The Turner Diaries, which was written by neo-Nazi leader William Pierce. The book served as a blueprint for the Oklahoma City bombing by Gulf War veteran Timothy McVeigh. Another individual said he was about to be deployed overseas and was looking forward to "killing all the bloody sand niggers." Still another spoke of his hatred for undocumented immigrants.
The FBI released a report last year that also raised concerns about racist extremists in the military. And in April, the Department of Homeland Security released another report that found right-wing extremists present the most significant threat of domestic terrorism, and it cited concerns that these groups would exploit the combat training of returning veterans.

The DHS report sparked controversy, with some veterans groups and others accusing DHS of being anti-veteran. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano ended up issuing an apology to veterans upset by the conclusions. Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the top Republican on the House intelligence committee, called for an investigation into "evidence of unsubstantiated conclusions and political bias" -- even though the report was initiated by the Bush administration.

The SPLC letter also notes that the U.S. military has discharged more than 12,500 service members since 1997 simply because they're openly gay:
It seems quite anomalous that the Penatgon would consider homosexuals more of a threat to good order than neo-Nazis and other white supremacists who reject our Constitution's most cherished principles.