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February 24, 2021

Rep. Pete Aguilar’s bill seeks to keep white supremacists out of military

Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-San Bernardino, has introduced a bill with seven recommendations to prevent white nationalists from infiltrating the U.S. military — something a new Pentagon report says is already happening and is a continued threat.

Aguilar’s bill would turn the recommendations from that report — which he had requested after seeing news coverage suggesting it was increasing problem — into law.

“We should say, the overwhelming number of people serving in our country do so with the utmost respect for the constitution and their role,” Aguilar said. “However, there are limited exceptions that individuals do seek military service as a way to bolster their own standing in domestic terror groups.”

The Department of Defense has said it will implement all but one of the recommendations in the report and is evaluating the final recommendation, but it’s important to make them legally binding so that future administrations can’t back away from those commitments, Aguilar said.

That includes scanning recruits’ tattoos in a database to see if they are white nationalist symbols and working with the FBI to develop an unclassified version of the FBI’s Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremism training.

The 65-page report says the United States has had a resurgence of white supremacy since 2014, and a concerning number of domestic extremists and white supremacists — although “low in absolute terms” — are joining the military to get training that can then be used in violent actions. Military veterans were among the violent insurrectionists who attacked the Capitol Jan. 6, for instance.

“DoD is facing a threat from domestic extremists (DE), particularly those who espouse white supremacy or white nationalist ideologies,” the report states. “Some domestic extremist/terror groups (a) actively attempt to recruit military personnel into their group or cause, (b) encourage their members to join the military, or (c) join, themselves, for the purpose of acquiring combat and tactical experience. Military members are highly prized by these groups as they bring legitimacy to their causes and enhance their ability to carry out attacks.”