Report: Term ‘White Nationalists’ Axed From Measure To Screen Military Enlistees
The final version of the National Defense Authorization Act removed the phrase “white nationalists” from a provision intended to help keep such individuals from serving in the U.S. military, according to HuffPost.
The language in the House-passed measure, authored by Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), “was specifically drafted to encourage screening for white nationalist beliefs in military enlistees.”
However, after the Senate passed its own version of the military spending bill and both bills were reconciled, the phrase “white nationalists” was tossed out and replaced with something different. The final version of the NDAA “requires the Department of Defense to study ways to screen military enlistees for ‘extremist and gang-related activity,’” HuffPost reported.
While the change might seem minor, the publication noted, Aguilar is concerned that it means his colleagues do not take the threat of white nationalists in the military as seriously as the matter requires.
The Democrat introduced the amendment earlier this year following reports of white nationalists already serving in the armed forces.
HuffPost recalled its own reporting from earlier in 2019, which “exposed 11 U.S. service members who had ties to Identity Evropa, a white nationalist group best known for helping organize the deadly 2017 ‘Unite The Rally’ in Charlottesville, Virginia.”
And just this week, "two cadets flashed the 'OK' hand sign, often a white power symbol, on live television during the Army-Navy football game."
“We cannot turn a blind eye to this growing problem which puts our national security and the safety of the brave men and women serving our country in jeopardy,” Aguilar told HuffPost in a statement. “It’s disappointing that Senate Republicans disagree.”
White nationalists have long been drawn to the military, where they are trained in combat, though “military rules prohibit service members from committing acts of discrimination or engaging in extremist activity.” Regardless of the rules, almost one-quarter of service members reported running into white nationalists during their time in the military in a 2017 Military Times survey.
Aguilar’s amendment required the Defense Secretary to “study the feasibility” of screening for “individuals with ties to white nationalist organizations” during background investigations of military enlistees.