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FBI training 'critical of Islam'

An FBI review of agent training material critical of Islam uncovered 876 offensive or inaccurate pages that had been used in 392 presentations, including a PowerPoint slide that said the bureau can sometimes bend or suspend the law.

The bureau has not released the material, but Democratic senator Dick Durbin of Illinois described a few pages of it in a letter asking FBI Director Robert Mueller to institute five changes so that inappropriate FBI training on Islam does not happen again.

The FBI has now confirmed the number of inaccurate or offensive pages and presentations. The bureau also said the documents that are either offensive or inaccurate have been taken out of training presentations.

Every trainer was identified and interviewed by an FBI inspection team and the team determined that the problems were performance-related - poor judgment or inadequate training, rather than intentional misconduct, said FBI spokesman Michael Kortan.

As a result, instructors were counselled and in some cases removed from training positions.

Mr Durbin said he is disturbed that the FBI does not plan to produce a written report on the six-month review. He said he wants the agents who received the bad training to be retained.

It began last September after the online publication Wired.com reported that the FBI had discontinued a lecture in which the instructor told agent trainees in Virginia that the more devout a Muslim is, the more likely he is to be violent. The analyst subsequently gave a similar lecture at an FBI-sponsored public-private partnership in New York City.

Mr Kortan declined to address the issue of retraining. Out of 160,000 pages of training material reviewed, just 876 pages - fewer than 1% - were "inconsistent with the FBI's core values," said Mr Kortan. "We strongly disagree that the analysts being trained were led to believe that we actually bend or suspend the law in any way. The one reference used in the slide was poorly described."

The trainer using the PowerPoint slide, the FBI said, was simply short-handing the additional legal authority law enforcement officials have in counterterrorism investigations through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the criminal code. The PowerPoint slide, which was in a section on Muslims, said that "under certain circumstances, the FBI has the ability to bend or suspend the law and impinge on freedoms of others."

Mr Kortan said: "Mistakes were made, and we are correcting those mistakes. Through this review process, we recognised that we lacked a centralised process to ensure all training materials were reviewed and validated. We are addressing that gap so this does not happen again."

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