Ryan J. Reilly
Mueller called the FBI training materials in question “inappropriate offensive content” but asserted they weren’t commonplace, calling the incidents “an aberration.”
“I think that’s a very valid concern. And as I have pointed out, I think this is a very unusual occassion,” Mueller said.
“We have undertaken a review from top to bottom of our counterterrorism training. I think these are isolated incidents,” Mueller said. “We have 34,000 employees and we do a great deal of training. We understand the sensitivity and the importance of assuring that that training that we give to our persons are appropriate.”
The FBI, facing pressure from Muslim groups after the revelation of the training materials byWired reporter Spencer Ackerman, said they hadtaken steps to prevent such material from leaking into their training programs in the future.
But Ackerman has since uncovered new evidence of Justice Department employees casting Islam as an existential threat to the United States. An “intelligence specialist” who worked for the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Middle District of Pennsylvania warned in a 2010 Power Point presentation of a “Civilizational Jihad” conducted by “civilians, juries, lawyers, media, academia and charities.” Earlier this year, a FBI trainercompared Islam to the “Death Star.”
In his testimony, Mueller defended the FBI’s relationship with the Muslim community, saying that all of the FBI’s 56 field offices have worked on those relationships in the years since the Sept. 11 attacks.
“Our outreach over the years has been very successful I think in bridging the relationships with the Muslim-American community, and this is I think something that’s unfortunate and we’ve addressed it,” Mueller said.
Rep. Schakowsky said to Director Mueller:
….”My concern is that we’re not looking at criminal behavior. We’re not looking at violent behavior. But we’re focusing on religious practices and that this is evident, and I could cite other evidence — I want to give you a chance to answer, though — of training materials and written materials of the FBI that describe people who, you know, wear Muslim clothing, et cetera, as being signals that they may be violent.
“And I’d like you to — to comment on this. This is something that we need, I believe, to worry about in this country, that values — religious freedom and the freedom to practice religion.”…..
Director Mueller responded in part: “We have undertaken a review from top to bottom of our counterterrorism training. I think these are isolated incidents. And in the course of that review, we’ve had outreach to academicians and others to assist us in reviewing the materials and assuring that that offensive — that offensive content is not — does not appear………….”
Islam content spurs FBI review of anti-terror training
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III told a congressional hearing on Thursday that the bureau is conducting a review of training programs after disclosure of materials that equated devout Muslims with a greater propensity for violent extremism.
Mr. Mueller said that one part of the training program disclosed in a press account was “inappropriate and offensive,” but that the session was a “one-off” and not likely to be repeated.
“We have undertaken a review from top to bottom of our counterterrorism training,” Mr. Mueller said. “I think these are isolated incidents, and in the course of that review, we’ve had outreach to academicians and others to assist us in reviewing the materials and assuring that that offensive content does not appear.”
The comments came in response to questions from Rep. Janice D. Schakowsky, Illinois Democrat, during a hearing before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, about leaked training materials from an FBI training session at its institute in Quantico, Va., in March.
The exchange prompted charges that Mr. Mueller was knuckling under to political correctness aimed at muzzling critics of Islam.
The materials, Mrs. Schakowsky said, stated of Muslims that “the more religious they get, the more violent they are And I understand that there’s been training [sessions] where the Prophet Muhammad has actually been called a cult leader and [where] the Islamic practice of giving to charity [has been described as] no more than, quote, ‘a funding mechanism for combat.’”
The FBI materials were first reported and posted online by ‘Wired’ Magazine’s Danger Room blog.
“In this particular instance,” said Mr. Mueller, “reports of what had been in that training came up from the students, and we took action to assure that that inappropriate, offensive content was not provided to others.”
He added that there had been “other instances [of training] that may include what would be perceived as offensive content.”
The exchange highlights a long-running dispute, both about the counterterrorism training provided by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, but more deeply about the nature of the threat posed by the ideology of Islamic terrorism.
Mr. Mueller “is saying that this correlation [between piety and violence] is offensive because Islamic supremacist groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) tell him that it offends them,” said Robert Spencer, a writer on Islam.
Mr. Spencer is one of those whose training presentations for law enforcement – including for the FBI – have been criticized as anti-Muslim. CAIR describes itself as a civil rights organization and denies any link to terrorism.
“Mueller and the FBI have departed from a pursuit of the truth and are following a politically correct agenda that makes us all less safe,” Mr. Spencer told the Times.
John Guandolo, a former FBI agent and another counterterrorism trainer, called it “outrageous” that “almost the only people our leaders in national security and law enforcement are looking to for guidance about Islam” are representatives of groups like CAIR, which he said is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, a global political network that promotes Islamic law and a political view of Islam as not just a personal faith, but a code for the whole of society.
“The FBI director’s job is not to be the politically correct police, but to look at facts and evidence,” Mr. Guandolo said. “The fact is, the major threat does not come from terrorist attacks. It comes from the Muslim Brotherhood.” source