The FBI was telling new bureau recruits as recently as Jan. 2009 that Islam “transforms [a] country’s culture into 7th Century Arabian ways” and recommending a book written by one of Norwegian terrorism suspect Anders Behring Breivik’s favorite authors as well as the Complete Idiot’s Guide To Understanding Islam.
That’s the type of information included in a 62-page slideshow (PDF) produced by the FBI’s Law Enforcement Communications Unit, which was obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Asian Law Caucus thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request filed last year. Spencer Ackerman first reported on the slides at Wired’s Danger Room.
Some of the books included on a “Recommended Reading” slide are The Politically Incorrect Guide To Islam and The Truth About Muhammad by anti-Muslim blogger Robert Spencer, who was cited 64 times by the Norwegian bombing suspect Breivik in his manifesto.
In a statement to Ackerman, the FBI said that the presentation “was a rudimentary version used for a limited time that has since been replaced” and said that Robert Spencer’s book was no longer on the recommended reading list.
It’s been well established that anti-Muslim self-proclaimed counterterrorism experts — often times funded by federal grants — have been giving advice to state and local law enforcement officers for years. But the fact that the nation’s top law enforcement agency was pointing new federal agents to bigoted material as recently as 2009 came as a surprise to those who have seen this stuff before.
Mike German of the ACLU, a former FBI agent, told TPM that educating agents with that type of material can only lead to abuse down the road.
“Certainly I was concerned with the approach the FBI was taking post-9/11, which is why I’m no longer with the FBI,” the ACLU’s Mike German told TPM. “I am shocked to see that this type of training material was produced in 2009.”
“The FBI is made up of human beings, and human beings make mistakes, but one would have thought by 2009 they would have understood this issue a little more clearly and realized how offensive that material would be read,” German said.
“Clearly there needs to be some greater oversight, because it is dangerous to put disinformation in the hands of law enforcement officers who are later going to be responsible for implementing FBI programs and policies,” German said. “It could seriously have a detrimental effect if agents are trained in a biased manner.”