Approximately two weeks ago, the House of Representatives passed an amendment, introduced by Congressman Alcee Hastings, that would prohibit people affiliated with hate groups from joining the military. The amendment is one of dozens tacked on to the National Defense Authorization Act for 2010 -- the bill that OKs money to be spent on the armed forces. The full bill passed the House, and the companion bill was read aloud today in the Senate.
Hastings himself has conceded that his amendment is somewhat redundant, since "the Armed Forces already have a great many regulations in place regarding the prohibition on extremist activities by military personnel." He claimed, however, that "in many instances, recruiters and commanding officers are looking the other way."
But the folks over at Right Wing News have read the amendment closely, and they don't believe it's so innocuous. Referring to it as a "disturbing piece of legislation," they noted the fine print: The text says that persons associated with hate groups, "as determined by the Attorney General," may not be enlisted or retained in the armed forces.
Right-wingers worry that this grants too much power to current Attorney General Eric Holder, who could theoretically label them members of "hate groups" by virtue of being pro-gun, anti-abortion, or anti-illegal-immigration. After all, they say, Holder is a "terrorist's best friend" who plans to release Guantanamo detainees in the U.S., and the Department of Homeland Security in April issued a report warning of a resurgence in right-wing extremism.
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A call to Hastings' Washington office was not immediately returned.