In an effort to stomp out anti-Muslim counterterrorism training at the the FBI, the bureau is calling in reinforcements.
Spencer Ackerman reports over at Wired that the FBI is turning to the Army’s Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, a request that “represents a frank admission from the FBI that it requires outside help to reform.”
The bureau, Ackerman reports, reached out to Bill Braniff, a retired Army captain who directs Practitioner Education at West Point. He “spent much of October in meetings at Bureau Headquarters in Washington D.C. designing what a source familiar with the process describes as ‘guidelines for objectionable material’ to exclude from agent training.” He continues:
In its eight-year history, the CTC has built a reputation as a non-ideological haven for rigorous, data-driven counterterrorism research. It compiled perhaps the most thorough profile ever of the foreign fighters that flocked to Iraq, based on captured military documents. Its monthly newsletter, the CTC Sentinel, is widely read in counterterrorism circles. Not only does CTC teach the Army’s cadets at West Point, who will have to distinguish between Muslim civilians and insurgents in warzones, it consults for state and local police — and the FBI.
An FBI official told TPM that the Army’s role in the review is a bit “overstated.” In a statement provided by the bureau, the FBI said a “core review team included FBI and non-FBI personnel with academic training in areas of Islamic studies and Arab history” which “established guidelines to provide concrete enterprise-wide guidance on the training of counterterrorism and countering violent extremism topics.”
Training materials, said the FBI, are expected to conform to these “core guiding principles”:
- Training must conform to constitutional principles and adhere to the FBI’s core values.
- Training must be tailored, focused, and supported with appropriate course materials.
- Training must be properly reviewed and trainers must be knowledgeable of applicable subject material.
- Training must facilitate further learning and professional development.
After initially identifying and collecting current counterterrorism training materials from FBI field offices and the bureau’s Counterterrorism and Training Divisions, a team of inspectors from the FBI’s Inspection Division started “Phase II” of the review on Oct. 24, according to the FBI. The second part of the review “includes a detailed examination of training materials collected during Phase I and all other programmatic counterterrorism training materials developed and used since September 2001.”
The review, the FBI said, “includes more than 150,000 pages of counterterrorism training material, more than 4,500 presentations, and more than 1,000 minutes of video.”
In the final phase of the review, the team will use the guidelines to “closely scrutinize the
material flagged in Phase II and make final expert recommendations.” Items that don’t conform with the guidelines will be removed from the bureau’s training curricula, said the FBI.
An Arab-American leader who met with FBI officials and discussed the anti-Muslim training materials told TPM that he was “optimistic” about how they were responding.