At the very least, this is an interesting way to try to train agents. Although I’m not sure that actors wouldn’t have been far preferable.

Given the ways in which we know the Federales work, you have to wonder what else may be going on here. After all, we scooped up sadistic Nazi scientists after WWII, we had Noriega on the payroll, we supplied the Khmer Rouge…

 

The Westboro Baptist Church is infamous for picketing soldiers’ funerals with signs like “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “God Hates the USA.”

Yet the FBI recently invited leaders of the fundamentalist church to the Quantico Marine base in Virginia to talk to FBI agents as part of the bureau’s counterterrorism training program. But after four sessions this spring, the FBI canceled the arrangement amid criticism from inside the bureau, while church leaders claimed that they had been misled.

The church group, led by Pastor Fred Phelps and based in Topeka, Kan., says its protests are intended to tell the world that God is punishing the U.S. military for America’s tolerance of homosexuality. The pastor claims to be the prophet of God’s wrath.

The FBI first invited the church group to address the FBI’s law enforcement training classes back in 2008. And initially, there were no apparent problems. But the most recent sessions, including three at Quantico and one in Manassass, Va., stirred up controversy.

Timothy Phelps, a church leader and the youngest son of Fred Phelps, said he spoke to local law enforcement professionals at the FBI Academy at Quantico and then again to agents who had been in the bureau three years or less at an FBI facility in Manassass.

He said the program was designed to teach agents “how to stay measured when they are speaking with a witness or a suspect with whom they have a strong, visceral disagreement.”

Phelps conceded that strong, visceral disagreement is one of the emotions Westboro inspires. And that’s what he found in the classrooms he visited. Officials say there were about 50 local law enforcement officials and agents in each session, and they say Westboro wasn’t paid for its participation. Phelps confirmed that no money exchanged hands.

“We did an opening dialogue about the history of the church and what led us to this point in our ministry and specifically led us to the point where we were holding protests or pickets in proximity to the soldiers’ funerals,” Phelps said. “Then the class opened up and they were entitled to ask any questions they wanted.”

Phelps said the sessions were contentious. “Some of the students in the class take the gloves off and basically push the envelope about, ‘what will happen when the day comes that your so-called leader tells you to use violence,’ ” Phelps said. “Our leader won’t tell us to do anything except what is written in scripture. We don’t have a leader like what they want to believe we have. … We have a preacher.”

Law enforcement officials who attended the session said it was focused on domestic terrorism. They were told that the FBI invited Westboro members to the class so police officers and agents could see extremists up close and understand what makes them tick.

 

I dunno. There is something unseemly to all this, if you ask me. I’d much rather have read about the FBI infiltrating these lumps of waste.

 

Tweet this via redir.ec