Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) provided a platform Tuesday for a known anti-Muslim conspiracist employed by an outfit that provides biased trainings often tailored to law enforcement.
Cruz’s hearing, “Willful Blindness: Consequences of Agency Efforts To Deemphasize Radical Islam in Combating Terrorism,” served mostly as a semantic game challenging the Obama administration. Cruz was particularly fixated on the administration’s refusal to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism” and omit words like “jihadist” from law enforcement training materials.
Chris Gaubatz was among the witnesses. He is a former insurance salesman and anti-Muslim activist now referred to as a “national security consultant.” Gaubatz—who gained popularity among anti-Muslim circles after masquerading as an intern with the Council of American-Islamic Relations—is employed by Understanding the Threat, a “counter-terrorism” consulting firm headed by disgraced former FBI agent and fellow anti-Muslim conspiracist John Guandolo.
During his time Tuesday, Gaubatz peddled common anti-Muslim conspiracies including accusing the only two Muslim members of Congress of being secret Muslim Brotherhood operatives. He also used the platform to plug Understanding the Threat’s biased training programs.
“UTT is the only organization in America which trains law enforcement, intelligence professionals, military, and leaders on the threat from the Global Islamic Movement, the doctrine of jihadi groups, and how to identify, investigate, and dismantle them,” Gaubatz said in his testimony.
The “Global Islamic Movement” is a concept developed and peddled by members of organized anti-Muslim movement. In 2015, the Center for Security Policy—an anti-Muslim think tank headed by Frank Gaffney—published a strategy to defeat this alleged movement. Guandolo, Gaubatz’s boss, was one of the co-authors of the report along with other known anti-Muslim figures.
During the hearing, Cruz—using the recent massacre at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida as his in—railed about what he called a “purge” of anything Islam-related from the FBI’s lexicon. Farhana Y. Khera, President and Executive Director of Muslim Advocates, was a main subject of Cruz’s fevered interrogations for supposedly spearheading this purge. He also went after his Democratic colleagues, who invited Khera to testify, suggesting they, too, were at fault.
“Apparently, the Orwellian censorship of law enforcement materials and intelligence materials is not a concern to my colleagues,” Cruz said.
However, Muslim Advocates was part of a charge to purge extremely problematic training materials being used by the FBI. A 2011 report from Wired.com revealed that up until 2009, books about Islam authored by notorious anti-Muslim figure Robert Spencer were included in the FBI’s recommended reading list for its agents. Spencer also provided seminars on Islam to the FBI and other government agencies. Following the report, 57 civil rights and advocacy organizations—including Muslim Advocates—wrote to former Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan demanding Spencer be dropped as a trainer and his materials purged.
So the question arose with Tuesday’s hearing: Is Cruz calling to reinstate this problematic material, like the works of Spencer, whose various organizations have been deemed hate groups? Cruz certainly has no problem with appearing at events along Spencer.
How Understanding the Threat fits in
Still, it is pretty certain the FBI will not give Spencer his old job back, something he remains bitter about to this day. Instead, Cruz gave a national platform to Guandolo’s outfit. The Center for New Community – along with our partners and allies – continues to monitor Guandolo’s activities. He is arguably one of the most active figures seeking to inject (even more) anti-Muslim bigotry into law enforcement programs and the minds of officials.
Guandolo regularly travels the country putting on trainings for law enforcement and civilians alike. Earlier this month, Guandolo was in Dallas, Texas for one such training. According his own account, at least one officer was in attendance. It was scheduled to take place at a local Texas college and officers who attended were “eligible for continuing education credit” until the Center for New Community exposed the training—and subsequent pressure by the Council of American-Islamic Relations was applied.
Guandolo’s trainings are notorious for taking an anti-Muslim slant. During a 2011 training, the former FBI agent claimed Muslims in America “don’t have a First Amendment right to do anything.” And Gaubatz—as he proved yesterday—is no better than his employer. In a June 12 tweet following the massacre at Pulse, Gaubatz wrote, “Omar Mateen was not an, ‘Islamic extremist’. He was a muslim waging jihad in the cause of allah, following t/teaching of quran&sunnah [sic.].”
During yesterday’s hearing, Cruz set out to get to the bottom of this Obama-led, systematic “purge” of “radical Islam” from government materials. If Cruz gets his way, we can only imagine the kind of biased materials he wants to put in place instead.