FBI defends invitation to Robert Spencer

Spencer and Geller3The FBI is defending its invitation to a prominent critic of Islam in America, who is also one of the leaders of the fight to stop a downtown Manhattan mosque and Islamic Center.

The Council on American Islamic Relations complained late last month that Robert Spencer, who runs the Jihad Watch site and is co-founder of Stop the Islamization of America, had spoken to the Tidewater Joint Terrorism Task Force, a combination of state, federal, and local law enforcement centered in Norfolk, Virginia.

“Our nation’s law enforcement personnel should not receive training from the head of a hate group that seeks to demonize Islam and to prevent American Muslims from exercising their rights as citizens,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, who also noted that Spencer and blogger Pamela Geller recently published a book subtitled, “The Obama Administration’s War on America.”

But the chief division for the Norfolk FBI field office, Phil Mann, defended the invitation to Spencer.

“We invite speakers who represent a variety of viewpoints and the special agent in charge of the Norfolk office has invited local Muslim leaders to speak to his staff. That doesn’t mean we endorse our adopt the view of any particular speaker,” Mann said. “Broad knowledge is essential for us to better understand and respond to the threats that we face. Knowledge also helps us defeat ignorance and strengthen relationships with the diverse communites that we serve.”

Spencer wrote on his blog that his meeting with the FBI had been “encouraging.” “I met many conscientious agents determined to understand the jihad threat and resist it in all its forms,” he wrote.

Ben Smith at Politico, 31 August 2010

The FBI’s response has been hailed by Pamela Geller under the headline “FBI Refuses to Cave to Criminal, Hamas-linked, Muslim Brotherhood Proxy, CAIR. Stands By Spencer”.