Islamic Group Asks Napolitano To Investigate ‘Islamophobic’ Trainers
(CNSNews.com) – An Islamic civil rights group is asking the Secretary of Homeland Security to investigate whether the people in charge of training national security personnel are “Islamophobic.”
In a letter to Janet Napolitano, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, called for an agency-wide probe to determine if the trainers “offer hostile, stereotypical and grossly inaccurate information about Muslims and Islam” as part of their training procedures.
CAIR cited a security drill conducted by the Transportation Security Administration last week at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
“I again write to you to respectfully request that you conduct an agency-wide investigation of the use of outside trainers who offer hostile, stereotypical and grossly inaccurate information about Muslims and Islam to our nation's security personnel,” said the letter, signed by CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.
“The use of these fear-mongers does harm to our national security because it misinforms DHS personnel about Islam and American Muslims,” reads the letter. “It also harms the relationship of trust with the Muslim community.”
According to the TSA, however, two security tests were conducted at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on May 19, one involving a man of South American descent and the other a middle-aged Caucasian man.
Greg Soule, spokesman for TSA, said that “covert testing” is routinely done to help train security personnel but that the agency does not use racial profiling in the tests.
“TSA officers do not profile passengers based on race or ethnicity,” Soule said. “We conduct thousands of training tests each year and the individuals carrying out the testing are various ethnicities, ages and appearances, just like the traveling public.”
“Covert testers are in no way chosen based on stereotypes,” Soule said.
Soule also said the confusion at one of the drills resulted from a “miscommunication” between the TSA and airport police about the test being scheduled. Soule said the airport police acted appropriately when a suspicious item in a carry-on bag was perceived as a real threat and caused a brief shutdown of a security checkpoint.
CAIR, meanwhile, made sweeping claims in its letter to Napolitano, including charges of “Islamophobic” practices not only at DHS, but also with other U.S. law enforcement agencies and the U.S. military
“Islamophobic trainers are undercutting your efforts and those of President Obama, who repeatedly states that our nation is not at war with Islam or Muslims,” the letter states.
The CAIR letter also states that the organization has not received a response to another letter on the same “alarming” issue sent to Napolitano in December 2010.
Copies of the letter were sent to President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, numerous members of Congress and a dozen several other Muslim advocacy organizations.
The CAIR letter, in its entirety, is presented below.
May 23, 2011
Secretary Janet Napolitano
Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528
Via Fax: ______________
Dear Madam Secretary:
I again write to you to respectfully request that you conduct an agency-wide investigation of the use of outside trainers who offer hostile, stereotypical and grossly inaccurate information about Muslims and Islam to our nation's security personnel.
The use of these fear-mongers does harm to our national security because it misinforms DHS personnel about Islam and American Muslims. It also harms the relationship of trust with the Muslim community.
To date, CAIR has received no response to its December 2010 letter to you outlining the same widespread and alarming issue. When can we expect your department to respond to these repeated requests?
I make this request after revelations that ethnic stereotypes were used as part of a controversial security drill at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. During the drill, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel used a person "who appeared to be Middle Eastern in descent or Indian/Pakistani" to test screening procedures. (Star Tribune, 5/23/11)
Over the weekend, it was also revealed that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) paid a notorious Islamophobe $5,000 for a recent appearance at a conference sponsored by the South Dakota Department of Public Safety (DPS).
The speaker, Walid Shoebat, claims "Islam is the devil" and that President Obama is a Muslim. Shoebat once told a Missouri newspaper that he sees "many parallels between the Antichrist and Islam" and "Islam is not the religion of God -- Islam is the devil." ( Springfield News-Leader, 9/24/07) CAIR asked DPS to drop its endorsement of the conference.
CAIR has in the past called on the Obama administration, DHS, the Department of Defense, and Congress to provide oversight for apparently widespread anti-Muslim bias in the training of law enforcement and security and military personnel nationwide.
Trainers for American military personnel have included Islamophobes such as Robert Spencer, co-founder of Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA). SIOA has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
CAIR's renewed request for oversight comes following the release of an 80-page report, titled "Manufacturing the Muslim Menace: Private Firms, Public Servants, & the Threat to Rights and Security," released by Political Research Associates (PRA) that details a systemic failure to regulate content in counterterrorism training.
Washington Monthly magazine also published a major investigative article showing similar anti-Islam attitudes by private trainers of law enforcement agencies.
CAIR's New York chapter (CAIR-NY) called on the New York Police Department (NYPD) to investigate how a notorious anti-Muslim propaganda film came to be used in mandatory counterterrorism training.
CAIR made a similar request of counterterrorism and military leaders not to employ Muslim-bashers as trainers following a Washington Post investigative report on post-9/11 government surveillance, which stated: "Seeking to learn more about Islam and terrorism, some law enforcement agencies have hired as trainers self-described experts whose extremist views on Islam and terrorism are considered inaccurate and counterproductive by the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies."
Last year, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) acknowledged that an anti-Islam film should not have been used in training offered to security personnel by that military law enforcement agency.
CAIR contacted NCIS after receiving a report that a three-day NCIS surveillance detection course at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., included the viewing of a propagandistic anti-Islam film.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
We urge you to prevent a "garbage in, garbage out" scenario in which thousands of our nation's security personnel are taught to be suspicious of those perceived to be Muslim or Middle Eastern.
The use and funding of Islamophobic private trainers harms our nation's safety and security and contradicts both DHS policy and your public statements on improving relations with the American Muslim community. Promoting anti-Muslim hostility only serves to tear down hard-won trust and spread unjustified fear and suspicion.
The fact that repeated calls for government investigations of this disturbing trend have gone unanswered sends a very negative message to American Muslims and to the larger society.
Islamophobic trainers are undercutting your efforts and those of President Obama, who repeatedly states that our nation is not at war with Islam or Muslims.
Again, I respectfully request that DHS conduct an agency-wide investigation of the use of Islamophobic trainers and offer a plan to prevent these agenda-driven individuals and groups from continuing to harm our nation's security.
National Executive Director
* President Barack Obama
* Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
* Attorney General Eric Holder
* FBI Director Robert Mueller
* Dr. Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense
* Sen. John McCain, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
* Sen. John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
* Quintan Wiktorowicz, Senior Director for Global Engagement, White House National Security Council
* House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor
* House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi
* Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid
* Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell
* Mr. Eric Treene, Special Counsel for Religious Discrimination,
* U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division
* National Council of Churches
* Muslim Public Affairs Council
* Muslim American Society
* Interfaith Alliance
* Islamic Society of North America
* Islamic Circle of North America
* Muslim Alliance of North America
* American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections
* Muslim Advocates
* Arab American Institute
* American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee