A National Public Radio (NPR) report Wednesday aimed at showing problems with some unqualified and biased counter-terrorism trainers unintentionally revealed a bias of its own.
The NPR report cited a study released by Political Research Associates (PRA), a self-described "progressive" organization that targets "right-wing" conservative groups. While it focused only on three training providers during its nine-month research period, the study claims widespread findings of abuse in the private counter-terrorism training industry.
The PRA study, however, is compromised by its reliance on people and organizations funded by the Saudi Arabian government and aligned with Muslim groups openly critical of law enforcement counter-terrorism efforts. The study's authors thank Georgetown University professor John Esposito, director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, and Alejandro Beutel, the governmental affairs director for the Muslim Political Affairs Council.
In December, the Investigative Project on Terrorism reported that an MPAC report by Beutel skewed statistics to show that Muslim Americans played a disproportionate role in tipping off law enforcement to terror plots.
While NPR focused on private trainers, the reality is that counter-terror training is multifaceted and private trainers are a small part of a significantly larger process. The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) is the U.S. government's primary general provider of law enforcement training to most federal agencies, as well as state and local law enforcement. Its counter-terrorism division describes eight separate programs. Beyond FLETC, the FBI, the military and Intelligence agencies all have their own in-house counter-terrorism training programs using active-duty government training personnel. A 2006 Congressional Research Service report on federal counter-terrorism training programs found no issues of Muslim stereotyping or unqualified private instructors.
Even so, most viable private counter-terrorism training organizations have staff instructors who are former/retired law enforcement or Intelligence officers with counter-terrorism experience and/or academics with advanced degrees in the pertinent field. The PRA report cited by NPR, in fact, found this to be the case in the three organizations it researched.