Obama administration counter-terrorism officials have traineddomestic Homeland Security law enforcement officers to focus on thebehavior of people entering the United States, rather than theirpolitical, ideological or religious background.
The training directives from top Homeland Security officialsraise questions about the effectiveness of the screening processfor Syrian refugees.
Officials process a refugee’s biographic information suchas name and date of birth, along with biometric data likefingerprints. This information is crosschecked over different U.S.databases and agencies.
U.S. officials overseas then conduct a series of in-personinterviews in the next phase. The interviews are done by Departmentof Homeland Security officers whoÂ are trained to question refugee applicants andexamine the credibility of their responses.
But that training requires that the officials collectintelligence based on “behavioral indicators” whiledownplaying “religious affiliation.”
DHS’s civil rights division released a “CounteringViolent Extremism Training” best practices documentforÂ federal, state, and local government and lawenforcement officialsÂ in October 2011.
The document calls for training programs that are not“overbroad, equating an entire religion, nation, region, orculture with evil or violence, For example, it is incorrect anddamaging to assert that all Muslims have terrorist ties.”
Instead, the training encourages to “ensure that it usesexamples to demonstrate that terrorists span ethnicity, race,gender, and religion.”
Since 2012, the FBI’s guiding principles training manualin the Touchstone Document has stated:
Training must emphasize that no investigative or intelligencecollection activity may be based solely on race, ethnicity,national origin, or religious affiliation.Â Specifically, training must focus on behavioral indicators thathave a potential nexus to terrorist or criminal activity, whilemaking clear that religious expression, protest activity, and theespousing of political or ideological beliefs are constitutionallyprotected activitiesÂ that must not be equated withterrorism or criminality absent other indicia of such offenses.
“On September 28, 2011, I issued a memorandum to all headsof components and UnitedÂ States Attorneys to‘carefully review all training material and presentationsprovided by theirÂ personnel, particularly trainingrelated to combating terrorism, countering violent extremism,andÂ other training that may relate to ongoing outreachefforts in Arab, Muslim, Sikh, South Asian
and other communities,'” Deputy Attorney General James Colewrote in a memorandum to all heads of components andU.S.Â Attorneys in March 2012.
Cole continued, “Carefully review all training materialand presentations provided by their personnel, particularlytraining related toÂ combating terrorism, counteringviolent extremism, and other training that may relate to ongoingoutreach efforts inÂ Arab, Muslim, Sikh, South Asian andother communities.”
The FBI training manual principles extends to other members offederal law enforcement, including those who guard thenation’s borders and ports of entry.
“The FBI 2012 Guiding Principles Touchstone Document wasjust one in series of official policy directives that gradually,but severely, restricted the efforts of federal law enforcementofficers to accurately and effectively assess whether an individualentering the county had any potential nexus to terrorist orcriminal activity,” a government source familiar withnational security told The Daily Caller.
“These gradual but severe restrictions were coupled with asimultaneous reduction in accurate, fact-based training to addressthe nature of the threat we face, leaving us inadequately preparedfor the challenges we face today.”
The same year, the FBI’s counter-terrorism lexicon,following a purge of terminology of past years,deletedÂ all references to “al-Qaida,”“Muslim Brotherhood,” or “jihad.”
The Justice Department continued to alter its training policy in2012. In March of that year, Deputy Attorney General Cole sentanotherÂ memorandum to the heads of components andUnited States Attorneys in regards to “training guidingprinciples.” The memo stated in part:
Training must be consistent with the Constitution and Departmentvalues. Training must promote, and never undermine, our fundamentalprinciples of equal justice and opportunity for all, freedom ofspeech, freedom of religion, and our other core national values.Trainings must not disparage groups or individuals based on theirrace, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability,sexual orientation, gender identity, economic condition, politicalaffiliation or other similar characteristics.
“The 2012 FBI directive to remove religious and politicalmotivations from investigations and screening came at a time whenthe Obama administration was busy purging anything they believedmight reflect poorly on Muslims, regardless of how it effected ournational security,” national security consultant David Reaboitold The Daily Caller.
ReaboiÂ explained, “Since then — and now,presumably, in screening refugees, investigators are trained not toask about all the key identifiers that would allow them to spotIslamic terrorists or other Islamists who want to do harm toAmerica. Because ISIS, al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhoodunderstand themselves in precisely those ways, they’reprevented from asking anything meaningful beyond, ‘are you aterrorist?'”
“‘Are you a member of the Muslim Brotherhood? Whatschool of Islamic law do you follow? Where do you go to mosque? Doyou believe someone who insults Islam deserves to be killed? Wouldyou like to make America an Islamic country?’ All of thesequestions — the most important ones — areoff-limits,”Â Reaboi said.
In fact, the FBI’s policies of tamping down Islamic connections to terrorismcaused the agency to not identify Boston bombers, brothers TamerlanTsarnaev and Dzhokar Tsarnaev, a U.S. official told The Washington Free Beacon’s Bill Gertz in2013.
According to Gertz, U.S. officials say that the FBI’scounter-terrorism training manual as well as its outreach programto Muslim groups and the FBI’s policy toward Islam hamperedcounter-terrorism investigations and training.
Similar to the handling of the Boston bombing, the FBI ignored or missed the signs of radicalizedIslam in convicted Fort Hood massacre shooter, Army Maj. NidalHasan out of “political correctness.”
The training manual changes and lexicon purges were not enough,however.
“Ethnic, religious and racial profiling has led to thewide-spread singling out of Arabs and American MuslimsbyÂ Customs and Border Patrol, the Transportation SafetyAdministration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” aSeptember 2014 briefing report by the U.S.Commission on Civil Rights reads.Â “Overzealousgovernment monitoring programs have eroded the confidence ofAmerican Muslims in law enforcement and to law enforcementefforts.”
Four months later,Â December 2014, the JusticeDepartment issuedÂ a policyÂ stating:
In conducting all activities other than routine or spontaneouslaw enforcement activities, Federal law enforcement officers mayconsider race, ethnicity, gender, national origin, religion, sexualorientation, or gender identity only to the extent that there istrustworthy information, relevant to the locality or time frame,that links persons possessing a particular listed characteristic toan identified criminal incident, scheme, or organization, a threatto national or homeland security, a violation of Federalimmigration law, or an authorized intelligence activity.
The Daily Caller sent an inquiry to the FBI about the Touchstonedocument field-training manual and did not receive a response.