FBI Islamic training materials gave the OK to infringe on civil rights

Dick Durbin

Training materials used by the FBI for dealing with American Muslims and other Islamic communities have advised agents they can break the law and impinge on some of their targets’ civil rights.

The instructions were contained in confidential materials reviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of an internal FBI probe into what sort of training agents were exposed to when dealing with Islam…

Though that material has not been published – and senate staffers were not allowed to keep copies – committee member Senator Dick Durbin has revealed some of its contents in a letter written to FBI director Robert Mueller.

In the letter – first revealed by the Danger Room blog on wired.com – Durbin describes one slide that read: “Under certain circumstances, the FBI has the ability to bend or suspend the law and impinge on freedoms of others.”

That comment is sure to anger civil liberties groups and Muslim community organisations who have long complained that their community has been subject to undue harassment and racial profiling by law enforcement.

It should also anger any American citizen who believes our Constitution is worth defending.

Peter King — The sort of elected representative who stains our Constitution

The revelation comes after widespread criticism in recent years about the FBI’s so-called “entrapment cases” during which suspected radicals are helped, or induced, to carry out fake attacks by undercover informants.

It also comes after massive criticism following news that the New York police department has carried out mass undercover surveillance on Muslim communities in New York and surrounding cities…

Durbin describes several other slides that apparently deal in broad cultural stereotypes but were also part of FBI training…

In his letter Durbin asked for the materials to be made public, for the individuals who created it to be provided with retraining and for FBI agents exposed to it to also be retrained.

He also expressed concern that there were no plans for the FBI to produce a written report on its review of the material. “I believe that sunlight is the best anti-septic and that making public the results of the FBI’s review would be an important step to restoring the trust of the American people, especially American Muslims and Arab Americans,” Durbin wrote…

Last week the FBI publicised a three-page document, produced by a panel of experts, on the principles to be used in agency training. It is called “FBI’s Guiding Principles: Touchstone Document on Training” and explicitly states all actions carried out by the FBI must be constitutional.

The FBI has always had rules, pamphlets and flunkies who appear in public swearing to defend and uphold the Constitution. While they did just about anything they wanted to do. In the eyes of the top cops in the FBI, they’re above the law.

These are questions that get a consistent response from our courts. The Constitution takes precedence over expedience. It is the overriding guide to civil and criminal law.

It’s hard for me to take protestations of innocence seriously. Back in the day – when I was active in both the civil rights movement and in opposition to the VietNam War – I not only won a judgement as part of a class action suit for illegal wiretapping by the FBI, my mom won a matching settlement because they’d tapped her phone, too. Just in case I used the family phone if I was over for Sunday dinner!

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