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The email, which the Army claims is an isolated incident, included this guilt-by-association characterization: “The religious right in America has employed a variety of strategies . One of those has been defamation. Many of its leaders have engaged in the crudest type of name-calling …”

Talk about defamation. Anyone familiar with these groups (I have worked for two of them) knows this is a flat-out lie.

The good news is that the Southern Poverty Law Center’s lucrative run could be grinding to a halt, according to Mrs. Allen:

“There may soon come a day when the SPLC’s donation-generating machine, powered by [founder Morris] Dees’ mastery of the use of ‘hate’ to coax dollars from the highly educated and the highly gullible, finally breaks down. That is why, according to [SPLC President Richard] Cohen, the SPLC has no intention of soon spending down much of that $256 million in stockpiled assets that has earned the center an ‘F’ rating from CharityWatch.

“‘Those 1960s liberals they’re getting older, and the post office is dying. We’re likely to be out of the fundraising business within 10 years,’ ” Mr. Cohen told Mrs. Allen.

The Southern Poverty Law Center once did good work, keeping track of the remnants of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, skinheads and other real hate groups. By refusing to delist Christian organizations such as Family Research Council and the American Family Association, however, the organization is engaging in the very activity that it once effectively decried.

Why isn’t Congress investigating federal agencies’ reliance on the Southern Poverty Law Center?

Robert Knight is senior fellow of the American Civil Rights Union and a columnist for The Washington Times.