You are hereTalking Points Memo: Federal Funds For Counterterrorism Training Pay For Anti-Muslim Instructors

Talking Points Memo: Federal Funds For Counterterrorism Training Pay For Anti-Muslim Instructors


March 15, 2011- There's been an explosion of both state and federal money flowing into counterterrorism training for law enforcement in the years since Sept. 11. But it is becoming increasingly clear that some of the experts who are providing counterterrorism training for local law enforcement officers are sometimes not well vetted and have provided training which is based on bias against all Muslims and relies on falsehoods and exaggerations.

Meg Stalcup and Joshua Craze reported in Washington Monthly on the "self-styled experts" who have rushed into the void due to the lack of trained counterterrorism instructors and benefited from the tremendous amount of money and lack of universal oversight of such programs. The result is local law enforcement in some cases receiving training that is subpar at best, and dangerously misleading at worst.

A separate recent report from Political Research Associates (PRA) found that $1.67 billion in federal funds went to states in 2010 for the purpose of counter-terrorism training and that there was little oversight of the content of the training sessions. The report found there were "inadequate mechanisms to ensure quality and consistency in terrorism preparedness training provided by private vendors; public servants are regularly presented with misleading, inflammatory, and dangerous information about the nature of the terror threat through highly politicized seminars, industry conferences, trade publications, and electronic media."

"In place of sound skills training and intelligence briefings, a vocal and influential sub-group of the private counterterrorism training industry markets conspiracy theories about secret jihadi campaigns to replace the U.S. Constitution with Sharia law, and effectively impugns all of Islam -- a world religion with 1.3 billion adherents -- as inherently violent and even terroristic," according to the report.

One of the offices that gives out federal funds for some counterterrorism training is the Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). In an interview with TPM at his office in D.C. last week, COPS director Bernard Melekian said that the mechanisms for screening how the federal funds being sent to local police vary from office to office.

"I would imagine -- and I don't know this -- that there's going to be a review of exactly how instructors and curriculum are [vetted]. When I read that article, I was concerned about it. I would imagine there's going to be a review," Melekian said.

COPS is responsible for just a small part of the federal funds that go towards counterterrorism training sessions. Most of the training dollars that COPS dishes out for training purposes is routed through Regional Community Policing Institutes, Melekian said. The COPS office emphasizes the benefits that a community policing approach has for to counterterrorism efforts.

Melekian, who was the police chief for the City of Pasadena, Calif. for over 13 years before he was appointed to the COPS office by President Barack Obama in 2009, said that maintaining a close working relationship with Muslim communities was important in order for the U.S. to combat terrorism.

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