CREST: Not Just For Fighting Cavities Anymore

FBI’s Newest Anti-Terror Tactic: Community Outreach, Make Friends with Potential Enemies — written with our deepest apologies to CREST Toothpaste…

Unlike previous FBI programs, the community leaders and participants are not required to undergo background checks as, according to Miller, “it’s probably the wrong first step in making friends.”

By Douglas J. Hagmann, Director
director@homelandsecurityus.com

16 June 2006: The FBI launched a pilot program called the Community Relations Executive Seminar Training, or “CREST” in short. Through this program, the FBI reaches out to community leaders from the Muslim community to assist them in their fight against terrorism. According to the program’s FBI brainchild, it has three specific goals: bridge the trust gap, develop a bond, and build a level of confidence where the FBI and the Muslim leaders within the community believe in each other to have an honest and lasting friendship. According to John Miller, the FBI’s assistant director of public affairs, CREST has been launched “because if the [terror] threat is now home-grown to a large extent, we have to be looking for it at home.”
The CREST program was initially started in New York City, Albany, Buffalo and Los Angeles, where there are significant Muslim communities (and significant terrorist cells). It is being expanded nationally to other areas with large Muslim populations to advance the “cultural diversity outreach.”

John Miller, who is also the head of the Los Angeles Police Department counter- terrorism office, said that “since a lot of these communities look on the FBI and the federal government at large with a great deal of suspicion, the FBI wanted to have some kind of insurance” that Islamic community members would report suspicious activities within their communities. Added Miller: “So rather than wait for them to come to us, well, for instance, with complaints, as they did in some of these other cities, we’re going to extend the hand of friendship and say, ‘Let’s begin to talk, even though we don’t have any particular problem,’ to again try and achieve that three-step process to get to some place where there is a level of trust and confidence.”

Unlike previous FBI programs, the community leaders and participants are not required to undergo background checks as, according to Miller, “it’s probably the wrong first step in making friends.” Miller added: “So we go out to them. It can be a mosque, it can be a meeting hall, it can be a neutral site, it can be a restaurant. It doesn’t really matter where; the importance is if you’re going to be doing what you call outreach, you should go out, otherwise it’s in-reach.”

In Miller’s view, the best tool to counter the terrorism threat is community relations, besides increased cooperation between international agencies and local law enforcement partners. “Community relations cannot be looked on as a feel-good piece anymore,” he said, “because it’s not just about community policing or making friends for the sake of making friends.”

In my view, the best tool to counter the terrorism threat is better intelligence on the enemies who are inside of our borders, and not try to make inroads with those who want to subjugate the U.S. to Islam. The FBI is not a social service agency - or is it?

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