Anti-Terrorism Training Draws Scrutiny; Anti-Islam Stereotypes, Political Correctness Are Rival Fears

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 30, 2011 | Go to article overview
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Anti-Terrorism Training Draws Scrutiny; Anti-Islam Stereotypes, Political Correctness Are Rival Fears


Byline: Shaun Waterman, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Two senators have launched an inquiry into federally funded counterterrorism training for state and local police, saying they are concerned some of the instruction includes inflammatory and inaccurate anti-Muslim stereotyping. But the move has ignited fears that political correctness might undermine the training.

"We are concerned .. that state and local law enforcement agencies are being trained by individuals who not only do not understand the

ideology of violent Islamist extremism, but also cast aspersions on a wide swath of ordinary Americans merely because of their religious affiliation," wrote Sens Joseph I. Lieberman, Connecticut independent, and Susan M. Collins, Maine Republican, in a letter Tuesday to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Homeland Security Secretary Janet A. Napolitano.

The two senators, who work closely together as the chairman and ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, asked for details of the two departments' grant funding for counterterrorism training and for information about any standards or guidelines that training had to meet to qualify for federal money - including instructors' qualifications.

The senators said staff inquiries had uncovered evidence that improper training may not be limited to mere isolated occurrences.

Since the terrorist attacks of September 2001, billions of federal dollars have been poured into grant programs for state and local police and other first responders, with much of that spent on counterterrorism training. But there are few standards for such courses, and the senators fret that some trainers may be unqualified and some training counterproductive.

The senators cited recent news reports of self-appointed counterterrorism training experts as engaging in vitriolic diatribes and making assertions such as"Islam is a highly violent, radical religion."

But Islam demonstrably is a violent religion, said Robert Spencer, an author and blogger whose writings on Islam have proved controversial. Not every Muslim is violent, but the religion teaches and encourages violence against non-Muslims.

Mr. Spencer says he has taken part in counterterrorism training for U.

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