Posted by on August 04, 2011 in Blog

Last week, while most of the public was focusing its attention on the looming debt ceiling debate, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence was quietly holding hearings on “Preventing Violent Radicalization.” While the hearing garnered few of the news headlines or public outcry  drawn by Rep. Peter King (R-NY) earlier in the year, it is nevertheless worthy of our attention.

House Intelligence Subcommittee Chair Sue Myrick has proposed looking at the British Prevent Model as a starting point, and summoned industry experts up to Capitol Hill to testify last week. In particular, she invited visiting scholar Peter Neumann (Bipartisan Policy Center), and John Gannon (Former CIA Deputy Director for Intelligence) to offer up their opinions.

In a refreshing move, both experts discussed at length the need for trust between Arab and Muslim communities and local law enforcement. In the experts’ view, such trust is essential to any effective counter-radicalization strategy, and so far they’ve given the Administration and Congress relatively low marks. Dr. Neumann told the congressional committee: “Let me begin by saying what counter-radicalization is not. Counter-radicalization properly understood is not primarily about policing. It is not about spying on communities, it is not about criminalizing ideas or beliefs. It most definitely is not about stigmatizing communities or treating anti-ethnical faith groups as potential suspects. In many ways, it is the opposite of these things.” A few minutes later Dr. Gannon added, “The trust between people and local government in the United States including law enforcement is the global gold standard. New policy or activity that erodes the traditional confidence within local communities weakens our counter-radicalization efforts. Our Constitution is our strongest instrument against radicalization.”

So, it would seem that the experts are in agreement! Any counter-radicalization effort here in the United States must begin with respect for others and their culture. If we push local Arab and Muslim communities to the point where they no longer trust the government, surely it will be near impossible to count on these communities for their help and assistance. Everyone has a stake in peace. Rather than working with local communities to help identify possible threats, Congress seems more concerned with criminalizing a culture and a belief system to score political points and rake in re-election dollars.

It’s unclear if Congresswoman Myrick knew what she would be getting when she asked the witnesses to testify, but it’s out there now!

Last week, while most of the public was focusing its attention on the looming debt ceiling
debate, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence was quietly holding hearings
on “Preventing Violent Radicalization.” While the hearing garnered few of the news headlines or public
outcry drawn by Rep. Peter King (R-NY) earlier in the year, it is nevertheless worthy of our attention.
House Intelligence Subcommittee Chair Sue Myrick has proposed looking at the British Prevent
Model as a starting point, and summoned industry experts up to Capitol Hill to testify last week. In
particular, she invited visiting scholar Peter Neumann (Bipartisan Policy Center), and John Gannon
(Former CIA Deputy Director for Intelligence) to offer up their opinions.
In a refreshing move, both experts discussed at length the need for trust between Arab and
Muslim communities and local law enforcement. In the experts’ view, such trust is essential to any
effective counter-radicalization strategy, and so far they’ve given the Administration and Congress
relatively low marks. Dr. Neumann told the congressional committee: “Let me begin by saying what
counter-radicalization is not. Counter-radicalization properly understood is not primarily about policing.
It is not about spying on communities, it is not about criminalizing ideas or beliefs. It most definitely is
not about stigmatizing communities or treating anti-ethnical faith groups as potential suspects. In many
ways, it is the opposite of these things.” A few minutes later Dr. Gannon added, “The trust between
people and local government in the United States including law enforcement is the global gold standard.
New policy or activity that erodes the traditional confidence within local communities weakens our
counter-radicalization efforts. Our Constitution is our strongest instrument against radicalization.”
So, it would seem that the experts are in agreement! Any counter-radicalization effort here in
the United States must begin with respect for others and their culture. If we push local Arab and Muslim
communities to the point where they no longer trust the government, surely it will be near impossible
to count on these communities for their help and assistance. Everyone has a stake in peace. Rather than
working with local communities to help identify possible threats, Congress seems more concerned with
criminalizing a culture and a belief system to score political points and rake in re-election dollars.
It’s unclear if Congresswoman Myrick knew what she would be getting when she asked the
witnesses to testify, but it’s out there now!
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