Friday, July 1, 2011

Westboro Baptist Disinvited From FBI Domestic Terrorism Training For Being Too Extreme

Have you ever wondered how FBI agents learn how to deal with extremist groups and domestic terrorists in a potentially dangerous confrontation? I always assumed it involved a lot of research and some role-playing among the trainees. It turns out the truth is even more fascinating.

The FBI invites members of extremist groups to take part in the training sessions so agents can learn what makes them tick. For the last few years, one such group has been the Westboro Baptist Church. You remember them, the "God Hates Fags" folks who picket the funerals of dead soldiers, victims of hate crimes and mine explosions?

According to a report by NPR's Morning Edition, members of Westboro Baptist were invited to assist in a training session designed to help agents learn about domestic terrorism in 2008 and again this year. The group was disinvited this year, however, when, after just three sessions, FBI employees objected to their participation on the grounds that they found them to be too extreme.

Tim Phelps, the youngest demon spawn of the Fred Phelps, says the group was mislead by law enforcement about their participation in the program. He says he was told the classes were about "how to stay measured when they are speaking with a witness or a suspect with whom they have a strong, visceral disagreement."

NPR reports:
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.
The FBI claims the church group knew this. But Phelps said he had no idea he was part of a domestic terrorism curriculum.
Phelps said if the FBI lied to them about why they were there, he would not be surprised. "Law enforcement across this nation uses false information frequently with us," he said. But there were people at the FBI who were surprised — and angry — when they found out about the Westboro sessions.
Groups that have participated in past training sessions include former Ku Klux Klan members and other white supremacy groups, but it was the wackos from Westboro that FBI agents found too extreme to deal with.

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