FBI Islamic training materials gave OK to infringe on targets’ civil rights

Senator Dick Durbin releases documents uncovered as part of senate committee probe into FBI training on American Muslims

FBI revelation comes after massive criticism over news the NYPD has carried out mass undercover surveillance on MuslimNYPD Surveillance Of Muslim Students communities. Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images
Training materials used by the FBI for dealing with American Muslims and other Islamic communities have advised agents they can break the law and impinge on some of their targets’ civil rights.

The instructions were contained in confidential materials reviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of an internal FBI probe into what sort of training agents were exposed to when dealing with Islam.

The investigation uncovered 876 pages and 392 presentations that failed to meet standards or could be considered offensive amid more than 160,000 pages of FBI documents and slides.

Though that material has not been published – and senate staffers were not allowed to keep copies – committee member Senator Dick Durbin has revealed some of its contents in a letter written to FBI director Robert Mueller.

In the letter – first revealed by the Danger Room blog on wired.com – Durbin describes one slide that read: “Under certain circumstances, the FBI has the ability to bend or suspend the law and impinge on freedoms of others.”

That comment is sure to anger civil liberties groups and Muslim community organisations who have long complained that their community has been subject to undue harassment and racial profiling by law enforcement.

The revelation comes after widespread criticism in recent years about the FBI’s so-called “entrapment cases” during which suspected radicals are helped, or induced, to carry out fake attacks by undercover informants.

It also comes after massive criticism following news that the New Yorkpolice department has carried out mass undercover surveillance on Muslim communities in New York and surrounding cities.

Nor are other details contained in Durbin’s letter likely to appease many critics of the FBI and other US agencies’ attitudes towards American Muslim, or Muslim immigrant, communities.

Durbin describes several other slides that apparently deal in broad cultural stereotypes but were also part of FBI training. “Never attempt to shake hands with an Asian,” said one slide under the heading “Establishing Relationships”.

Others advised FBI agents to “Never stare at an Asian” and “Never try to speak to an Arab female prior to approaching Arab male first”. Instructions were also given in slides that while the “Western mind” was an “even keel”, in the Arab world “outbursts and loss of control expected”. One slide even asked: “What’s wrong with frequent Jekyll and Hyde temper tantrums?”

In his letter Durbin asked for the materials to be made public, for the individuals who created it to be provided with retraining and for FBI agents exposed to it to also be retrained.

He also expressed concern that there were no plans for the FBI to produce a written report on its review of the material. “I believe that sunlight is the best anti-septic and that making public the results of the FBI’s review would be an important step to restoring the trust of the American people, especially American Muslims and Arab Americans,” Durbin wrote. entire article at source