Internal US law enforcement documents describe a highly controversial community initiative aimed at identifying potential terrorists before they “radicalize” as being intimately related to intelligence gathering.Despite years of official denials, American Muslim civil rights groups have claimed that Barack Obama’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) initiative was a euphemistic approach that targeted Muslims for surveillance.
FBI and NSA to review policy after leaked documents suggest training materials referred to targets using offensive language
The White House has instructed US security agencies to review their training and policy materials for racial or religious bias after documents leaked by Edward Snowden showed training material for the intelligence agencies referring to “Mohammed Raghead”.
After an extensive investigation by the Intercept on Wednesday reported that the NSA and the FBI spied on the emails of five prominent US activists and attorneys with Muslim backgrounds, White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said that the administration took accusations of the slurs “extremely seriously.”
“Upon learning of this matter, the White House immediately requested that the director of national intelligence undertake an assessment of intelligence community policies, training standards or directives that promote diversity and tolerance, and as necessary, make any recommendations changes or additional reforms,” Hayden said.
It is at least the second time the White House has ordered a review of agency training materials said to include offensive language.
The Intercept cited the “Mohammed Raghead” epithet as a placeholder for a target in a surveillance training document from 2005.
Vanee Vines, a spokeswoman for the NSA, said that she would not comment on “the authenticity of any leaked material,” but said the NSA “has not, and would not, approve official training documents that include insulting or inflammatory language. Any use of racial or ethnic stereotypes, slurs, or other similar language by employees is both unacceptable and inconsistent with NSA policy and core values.”
Hayden declined to provide additional detail on the scope or duration of the investigation. But it is reminiscent of an earlier incident in which the White House ordered the government’s vast counter-terrorism apparatus to find and purge inflammatory training material, particularly that which singled out Muslims for particular scrutiny.
In 2011, this reporter published FBI training material instructing newer counter-terrorism agents that Islam itself was a threat to US national security and compared the prophet Muhammad to a cult leader. Initial FBI pushback gave way to an inquiry, at the instruction of the White House, that removed significant quantities of offensive or imprecise training material.