Arab, Muslim, South Asian, and Sikh-American Organizations Object to FBI Comments
Washington, DC | June 21, 2006 | The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is deeply concerned with comments attributed to John Miller, Assistant Director for Public Affairs at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), regarding the Community Relations Executive Seminar Training (CREST) program. ADC’s concerns are shared by the Arab American Institute (AAI), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow (SAALT), and the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF).
The following comments were attributed to Miller, “Speaking in plain terms, if I go to you and say, ‘Listen, I’ve got a great plan that we can blow up a building at 50th and third,’ and I keep talking to you about it, your job is to pick up the phone and call the police or the FBI – not to say, ‘Yeah, well, what kind of explosives would we use, and where would we get them, and how would we get the money.’
‘You might call that entrapment because it’s my idea. But when you get down to the bottom line, somebody who has no proclivity towards terrorism or violence can’t be sucked into one of these plots without some level of intention.’ ”
Miller’s comments have already been picked up by some media outlets and the following is an example of the headlines already generated- “FBI‘s Newest Anti-Terror Tactic: Community Outreach, Make Friends with Potential Enemies”
In a joint letter faxed to Miller today (full text of letter is included below), these organizations are calling for an immediate public explanation to these remarks, or an apology if the remarks are accurate. Further, the letter requests a 30-minute meeting to discuss this issue prior to a previously scheduled Public Affairs Symposium to be held with the groups tomorrow.
FULL TEXT OF LETTER
Dear Mr. Miller:
We are contacting you to express our deep concern about confusion created by your June 14, 2006 statements to the press discussing the Community Relations Executive Seminar Training (CREST) program (see enclosed articles). Your alleged remarks cast the CREST program and the FBI‘s outreach efforts with the Arab, Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian American communities in a misleading light.
Specifically, our organizations find it problematic for the Assistant Director of Public Affairs at the FBI to make statements that place our organizations‘ legitimacy and reputation in jeopardy and increase the level of suspicion of, and hostility toward, the FBI within our communities, and simultaneously enhance fear of our communities by the broader American public. We believe that it is counterproductive to frame the CREST program as a counterterrorism initiative to members of the press particularly before the scheduled public affairs symposium tomorrow.
It is our understanding that the public affairs symposium taking place tomorrow June 22, 2006, at FBI Headquarters is designed to assist the FBI field offices and our organizations to share observations regarding FBI media operations, as well as how the field offices can contact our organizations when issues involving constituencies arise. It is our understanding that the purpose of tomorrow‘s symposium was for the FBI to seek our knowledge, ideas, and expertise in establishing a protocol for flow of information at the national, regional, and local level. The remarks attributed to you discussing the CREST program (see enclosed stories), which was not discussed during any of the planning sessions we had with the FBI, place this initiative in the counter-terrorism arena and not in the field of community relations. Moreover, your alleged remarks feed the misconception that the average member of our communities is a potential terrorist, homegrown or otherwise. Our organizations find this fact to be entirely counterproductive and a reversal of the FBI‘s position to the dark weeks following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Our aim in contacting you today, and before tomorrow‘s event is held, is to request your kind assistance in appropriately addressing this unfortunate matter by issuing an immediate public explanation to these remarks, or an apology if the remarks are accurate. Further, we request a 30-minute meeting with you tomorrow morning and prior to your opening remarks at the symposium. We hope you consider these requests as a matter of absolute urgency for the sake of all the constructive success we have thus far achieved with your agency.
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
Arab American Institute (AAI)
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow (SAALT)
Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF)