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Weinberger Calls Military, Klan Incompatible

September 13, 1986|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger, asserting that participation in the activities of groups like the Ku Klux Klan is incompatible with military service, has ordered a new crackdown by commanders.

"I strongly encourage commanders at every level to ensure that all personnel fully appreciate their responsibility to their comrades and to the nation to uphold and advance the principle of individual equality," Weinberger wrote in a new directive.

"Military personnel, duty-bound to uphold the Constitution, must reject participation in such organizations," he said.

The directive, distributed to Defense Department installations Monday, was released Friday.

Marines' Involvement

It follows a review of Pentagon policies this summer prompted by reports that members of the Marine Corps in North Carolina had been seen participating in the activities of the Ku Klux Klan.

The directive does not single out by name any particular group. It cites the activities of "white supremacy, neo-Nazi and other groups which espouse or attempt to create overt discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex, religion or national origin."

Much of the directive amounts to a restatement of existing Pentagon policies. In one key area, however, by spelling out explicitly the authority of military commanders, Weinberger expanded controls on the activities of service personnel during off-duty hours.

The defense secretary informed commanders that they "have the authority to order the facilities and events sponsored or controlled by such groups 'off-limits.' "

The new directive stops short of prohibiting membership in groups that promote discrimination, a step considered intrusive from a constitutional standpoint and impossible to enforce.

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