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Agents can ‘bend and suspend the law’ – FBI training docs

Published time: March 29, 2012 03:44
Edited time: March 29, 2012 07:49
FBI agents. (Reuters / Chip East)

FBI agents. (Reuters / Chip East)

The FBI taught its agents that “bending or suspending the law” is sometimes OK, a review of training papers reveals. The documents also say Arabs are prone to “Jekyll and Hyde temper tantrums” and advise agents to “never shake hands with an Asian".

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The FBI has completed a six month-long review of materials and methods used to train counterterrorism agents.

­‘Yes’ to suspending law, ‘no’ to handshakes with Asians

­“Under certain circumstances, the FBI has the ability to bend or suspend the law to impinge on the freedom of others,” one FBI PowerPoint presentation bluntly stated. The circumstances under which the FBI could get the carte blanche to violate one of the pillars of American society were not stated.

The files also contain samples of offensive stereotypes in training documents. One of the documents, titled “Establishing Relations” instructs trainees: “Never attempt to shake hands with an Asian. Never stare at an Asian. Never try to speak to an Arab female prior to approaching the Arab male first.”

Another document, called “Control and Temper” contrasted the supposedly stoic Western mind to that of the “Arab world.” In the Arab world, “outburst and loss of control [is] expected,” the document states. In another bullet point, these outbursts are also called “Jekyll & Hyde temper tantrums.”

Of the 160,000 pages and slides used by the FBI, 876 pages and 392 presentations were deemed inappropriate and offensive. However, the FBI did not publish its results and did it take any disciplinary measures against those responsible for the shoddy material. Nor did it order the agents exposed to the material to be retrained.

­Senator leaks files to the web

­The shocking instructions have been made public with the help of Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee overseeing the FBI. He shared a letter he sent to FBI Director Robert Mueller with the Danger Room blog on Wired.com. The letter gave just a taste of the kind of information FBI agents were exposed to.

Senator Durbin was astonished by the publications.

I cannot imagine that was actually said,” Durbin stated. “It creates a license for activity that could on its face be illegal, and certainly inconsistent with our values.”

He also chided the FBI for failing to take appropriate measures to mitigate the effects of using such obnoxious material.

“If the FBI does not identify agents who received inaccurate information and take steps to retrain them, there is a real risk that agents will be operating on false assumptions about Arab Americans and American Muslims,” he wrote to FBI chief Mueller. “This could harm counterterrorism efforts by leading FBI agents to target individuals based on their religion or ethnicity, rather than suspicion of wrongdoing.”

The recent revelations are not the first in the series of shocking FBI agent-training instructions. Last year a leak to the web featured a chart, supposedly used by the FBI for training, that taught agents that the more “devout” a Muslim was, the more likely he was to be “violent." In another instance, an FBI lecturer was featured in a video repeatedly telling the audience that America should be focusing its effort on fighting Islam and not individual militant groups, which he compared to the teeth of a shark, the shark being the Islamic world. He also compared the religion to the Death Star in Star Wars, saying the effort had to be directed at finding Islam’s weak spot.

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