Culpeper County, Va., Sheriff Scott Jenkins says he “is not backing down from sending his deputies” to an “advanced counterterrorism” training next week by John Guandolo, a disgraced former FBI agent with a long history of demonizing Muslims and hatching wild conspiracy theories. Jenkins was responding to calls from the Southern Poverty Law Center and a national Muslim-American organization to pull his sponsorship of the anti-Muslim, conspiracy-laden training.
Guandolo has told trainees in the past that American Muslims have no First Amendment rights. He also claims that the current director of the CIA is a secret Muslim agent working for the Saudis and that the Bush and Obama administrations were infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood. In a blog post last week, he even claimed that the American conservative movement had been penetrated by “jihadis,” in the form of anti-tax activist Grover Norquist.
Nonetheless, Sheriff Jenkins says that 20 of his employees will attend the training. It’s not clear if public funds will be used to cover the reduced registration fees ($25, reduced from $225).
Meanwhile, Guandolo claims that 30 officers from other law enforcement agencies will attend. However, calls to some of the other agencies privately said to be participating cast doubt on that number. He also says that he will do a special seminar for media and local officials. Two years ago in Tennessee, he pushed away a camera when a reporter attempted to tape his presentation. The Culpeper event will likewise be closed to press.
Sheriff Jenkins defended the training as a cheap way of fulfilling training hours for his staff. But Guandolo’s cheap training could prove costly. It will teach law enforcement officers to deny Muslim Americans their constitutional rights while passing along inaccurate – and often outrageous – information about our government, Muslims and the actual risks we face.