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DoD Pulls Protest ‘Terrorism’ Question

[Scroll down for the update.]

From, of all places, the America-hating American Civil Liberties Union:

(Click to enlarge)

ACLU Challenges Defense Department Personnel Policy To Regard Lawful Protests As “Low-Level Terrorism”



Anti-terrorism training materials currently being used by the Department of Defense (DoD) teach its personnel that free expression in the form of public protests should be regarded as “low level terrorism.” ACLU attorneys are calling the approach “an egregious insult to constitutional values” and have sent a letter to the Department of Defense demanding that the offending materials be changed and that the DoD send corrective information to all DoD employees who received the erroneous training.

“DoD employees cannot fully protect our nation and its values unless they understand that a core American value is the constitutional right to criticize our government through protest activities,” said ACLU of Northern California attorney Ann Brick. “It is fundamentally wrong to equate activism with terrorism.”

Among the multiple-choice questions included in its Level 1 Antiterrorism Awareness training course, the DoD asks the following: “Which of the following is an example of low-level terrorist activity?”  To answer correctly, the examinee must select “protests.” 

The ACLU sent a letter today to Gail McGinn, Acting Under-Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, asking that the materials be corrected immediately. The ACLU points out that the misinterpretation of First Amendment freedoms is particularly disturbing when viewed in the context of a larger, long-term pattern of domestic security initiatives by the government that have attempted to treat lawful dissent as terrorism. Examples of this shameful pattern can be seen in the Pentagon’s monitoring of at least 186 anti-military protests, the FBI’s surveillance of potential protesters at the Republican National Convention, the Fresno County Sheriff Anti-Terrorism Unit’s infiltration and surveillance of Peace Fresno, a community peace and social justice organization and the covert surveillance by the Maryland State Police of local peace and anti-death penalty groups.

“Teaching employees that dissent on issues of public concern is something to be feared, rather than respected, is a dangerously counterproductive use of scarce security resources, making us less safe and less democratic,” said Michael German, ACLU National Security Policy Counsel and former FBI Special Agent, who co-signed the letter with Brick.

The Level 1 Antiterrorism Awareness training course is an annual training requirement for all DoD personnel that is fulfilled through web-based instruction.

To read the ACLU’s letter to the DoD, go to: http://www.aclu.org/safefree/general/39820leg20090610.html

Given that this is the ACLU, we are tempted to regard this question in the exam as an innocent error more than a statement of policy.

Of course by the ACLU’s light, attacking the Pentagon is also just a form of protest. Cf. William Ayers.

And this is a bit of a laugh:

“Teaching employees that dissent on issues of public concern is something to be feared, rather than respected…”

Coming from the totalitarian left.

(Thanks to Canary for the heads up.)


From Fox News:

Pentagon Pulls Question That Called Protests a Form of Terrorism

Thursday , June 18, 2009
By James Osborne

The Pentagon has removed a controversial question from its anti-terrorism training exam that labeled “protests” a form of “low-level terrorism,” calling the question “poorly worded.”

A Pentagon spokesman said the question failed to make clear the difference between illegal violent demonstrations and constitutionally protected peaceful protests…

“They should have made it clearer there’s a clear difference between illegal violent demonstrations and peaceful, constitutionally protected protests,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Les Melnyk said on Thursday.

Asked when a protest becomes an “illegal, violent demonstration,” Melnyk said, “I’m not a lawyer. I couldn’t get into the specifics of when you cross the line.”

“If you’re doing physical damage to people or property, that could fall into that,” he said…

Of the Defense Department’s 3 million employees, 1,546 took the exam, Melnyk said. All will be sent e-mails “explaining the error and the distinction between lawful protests and unlawful violent protests,” he wrote in an e-mail.

He added that many Defense employees work in countries where violent demonstrations are regular occurrences.

“In those situations, that anti-Americanism might be taken out on an American in the crowd,” Melnyk said…

Well, that was quick.

He added that many Defense employees work in countries where violent demonstrations are regular occurrences. “In those situations, that anti-Americanism might be taken out on an American in the crowd,” Melnyk said.

Alas, this is true in the US, too.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, June 19th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

7 Responses to “DoD Pulls Protest ‘Terrorism’ Question”

  1. Reality Bytes says:

    “Free Speech Regulators” Coming Soon

  2. jobeth says:

    They aren’t terrorists…even in other parts of the world. They are only “freedom fighters”, activists, liberationists….

    Ahhh a rose by any other name!

    So let me get this straight….bombing the pentagon is only “protesting”, however, to Obalmy, the tea party participents are to be watched…umm. We ARE bad aren’t we….LOL

  3. caligirl9 says:

    I work with an expert on terrorism on occasion. His name is Brian Michael Jenkins. Google him. He’s a former Green Beret, two tours of duty in Vietnam and in Central America.

    I have a feeling he will disagree with “protests” being “low-level terrorism.” He’s a brilliant man, chock full of data on terrorism and how to predict, prevent and deal with the aftermath. I’ll have to ask him about this next time I see him.

  4. proreason says:

    Obamy Dictionary:

    terrorist: someone who disagrees with The Moron

  5. Steve says:

    Just a note that the article has been updated. The DoD has pulled the question.

  6. pdsand says:

    Of course the crime the left most abhors has been perpetrated by the left again in this case. This question has been taken out of context. This is a knowledge check, immediately following a block of training I’m sure which explains the context of the question. What the heck is “low-level terrorism” anyway? What is medium-level? If they published the rest of the chapter this would all make perfect sense I’m sure. I’m sure it even specifically states that they consider protests to be low-level terrorism if they happen in front of the U.S. Embassy in Yemen or outside a base in Iraq or something, as opposed to a town square in small-town USA. But that didn’t happen.

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