The FBI dropped a bomb of its own on Wednesday, announcing that members of the notoriously anti-gay fundamentalist group Westboro Baptist Church participated in spring training sessions with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The trainings, which occurred on four separate occasions at Quantico and Manassas, are usually reserved for police officers and FBI agents.
The FBI reportedly wanted to learn more about domestic terrorism from the organization, and rather than infiltrate/surveil the organization, they thought it prudent to actually invite the crazed group to train with the FBI! Shouldn’t our tax dollars be going to protect us, and not normalize the crazies?
The training, according to the FBI, was academic in nature, and was to give local and national law enforcement insight into dealing with domestic terrorists.
Paul Bresson, an FBI spokesman, said that the Westboro invitation “was done in an effort to establish open dialogue in an academic setting to train law enforcement on how to more effectively engage with the activist community.”
Church leader Timothy Phelps, in an interview with NPR, said that the sessions often became contentious, and that they had no idea they were there for a domestic terrorism curriculum.
[The program was about] how to stay measured when they are speaking with a witness or a suspect with whom they have a strong, visceral disagreement.
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. Then the class opened up and they were entitled to ask any questions they wanted.
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.’ 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.
Top FBI brass was displeased with the decision to invite a group that regularly protests military funerals to a military installation. Thomas Browne, Assitant Director of the FBI, circulated a one-sentence memo putting an end to this “training:” The FBI is not to invite Westboro to any of its training sessions again.
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