Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) are requesting information on the federal funding of counterterrorism training programs following a report on trainers who espouse anti-Muslim views during training sessions for local cops.
Collins and Lieberman wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that they “are concerned with recent reports 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.”
“Media reports cite some of these self-appointed counterterrorism training experts as engaging in vitriolic diatribes and making assertions such as ‘Islam is a highly violent radical religion’ and that if someone has ‘different spellings of a name… That’s probable cause to take them in,'” Collins and Lieberman wrote, citing the story in the Washington Monthly. “These comments, of course, are neither factually accurate nor consistent with our nation’s fundamental values and are not made by adequately trained personnel. It appears, however, that some of these so-called experts have neither the academic nor operational background in the material about which they train.”
DHS said in a statement that they agree with Senators Lieberman and Collins “on the critical importance of proper training and guidance for state and local law enforcement and homeland security officials in counterterrorism, and we will respond directly to their letter.”
“DHS does not tolerate religious discrimination,” Chris Ortman of DHS told TPM in a statement. “All DHS grant recipients providing training to state and local law enforcement partners are expected to reflect the same professionalism and courtesy that is expected of all DHS and DHS component personnel.” A Justice Department spokeswoman said they had received the letter and would be responding.
Collins and Lieberman want information on what current oversight was in place and what additional actions have been taken “to improve oversight of federally supported counterterrorism training for state and local law enforcement.”
Under the current process, grantees are allowed to offer a non-approved training course three times before they are required to submit the curriculum to DHS for approval. DHS is currently working along with local law enforcement, community leaders and experts in curriculum development from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) to develop a Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) curriculum.