Posted by on November 28, 2011 in Blog

Congresswoman Sue Wilkins Myrick (R-NC) (pictured left) doesn’t shy away from anti-Muslim/anti-Arab controversy. In 2003, she fatuously identified Arab Americans as a threat to U.S. national security, saying "Look at who runs all the convenience stores across the country." In 2009, then newly appointed to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Myrick (with Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), amongst others) was part of group that claimed Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was planting Muslim Intern “spies” in certain key congressional offices. The claim earned them a strong rebuke from the Congressional Tri-Caucus.

Today, Myrick was at it again, asking for signatures on a letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Attorney General Eric Holder regarding their ongoing review of FBI, Army, and law enforcement training programs. The training programs are under review following reports from Wired magazine that manuals and materials used by these and counter-terrorism agencies equate “mainstream” Muslims with terrorists.

Note the following excerpt from Congresswoman Myrick’s letter:

We are concerned that the political nature of these reviews might inadvertently weaken our law enforcement and military counter-terrorism training programs by censoring certain language that is used to objectively identify the asymmetrical threats that are present in today's world. As you well know, accurately defining the threat is an important step in creating and enforcing successful counter-terrorism doctrines.

Myrick’s letter asks your Member of Congress to repudiate the merits of investigating anti-Muslim bigotry in law enforcement and counter-terrorism. Essentially, she’s arguing that eliminating hate speech in federal training manuals undermines the nation’s ability to counter terrorism. Her argument manages to be both banal and shocking, given the fact that the training referenced in Wired’s report was clearly based more on fear than fact. Attorney General Holder himself called the training fiasco “flat-out wrong” and “a mistake.” (Click here to read AAI’s October 19th letter to John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism, expressing concern about the federal government's use of offensive training materials about Muslims and Islam.)

The text of the letter is below, we urge you to call or write your representative and tell them that the spirit of the letter is wrong, and you are counting on them to do the right thing and not sign.  


Dear Secretary Panetta and Attorney General Holder:

Recent reports indicate that your departments have initiated reviews of all federal law enforcement and military counter-terrorism training and educational programs - specifically regarding the cultural-awareness of such programs. We understand this is in response to media attention on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Countering Violent Extremism training.

We are concerned that the political nature of these reviews might inadvertently weaken our law enforcement and military counter-terrorism training programs by censoring certain language that is used to objectively identify the asymmetrical threats that are present in today's world. As you well know, accurately defining the threat is an important step in creating and enforcing successful counter-terrorism doctrines.

In a February 2011 report issued by the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, the committee articulated a number of improvements that the government can make to strengthen its counter-terrorism doctrine. Amongst the suggested improvements, the committee recommended that the Department of Defense, "update its policies on extremism and religious accommodation to ensure that violent Islamist extremism is not tolerated. DOD should also train servicemembers on violent Islamist extremism and how it differs from Islamic religious belief and practices." We caution that the results of your department's reviews do not directly counter this recommendation.

As members of Congress, we respectfully request that you provide us additional information about your counter-terrorism training review processes. We would like to know the following:

·   What entities are conducting the review processes?

·   What are the objectives of the training reviews?

·   What changes are you planning to implement?

·   How will the changes improve the current model of counter-terrorism training?

We thank you for your prompt response to our questions.

 

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