FBI: Not Serious
In a classroom at the FBI Academy in Quantico, instructor Rodney Loose was trying to introduce the history of Islam to a new group of future agents. He had one hour.
The 50 men and women would be joining the ranks of an agency whose top officials have declared fighting terrorism to be its No. 1 priority. They listened intently as Loose rushed through his topics: Sunnis and Shiites, the Koran, Mecca and Medina, four-part Arabic names, and the five pillars of Islam.
“Can you tell us about sleeper cells?” a recruit asked.
“I’m sorry, I don’t think we’re going to have time to get into this,” a frustrated Loose said. “I wish I had more time to go through this. But it’s just not possible.”
Since the FBI came under withering criticism for its part in the intelligence community’s failure to prevent the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the bureau has added 37 hours of counterterrorism training at Quantico for new agents. But that represents just 5 percent of the curriculum, and only one hour is about Islam, Arabic culture and understanding the terrorist mind-set
With so little time, Loose could just make it through Page 7 of his 14-page handout. No time to discuss suicide bombers, Islamic extremism or terrorist psychology.
An interesting story for the insights about training, but otherwise a rehash of stuff you have read before. Frankly I don’t know why they’re taking this approach. Use the extra time to focus on broader intelligence skills and create a longer and more focused CT program that Special Agents who are designated for such duty can attend after graduation (basically how everyone in the military is trained; core skills first, extras later). It isn’t like you are churning out thousands of agents a year, so if you’re going to take your time you might as well do it right. Having an add-on course also means that veteran agents who are assigned to CT duty don’t have to learn on-the-job and you can take the training on the road using mobile training teams.
So easy to pick on, but knowing people who are involved in building the training program, I know we shouldn’t yell too loudly.