The Problem with the FBI’s ‘Shared Responsibility Committees’

March 31, 2016

The FBI has a noble goal to keep our country safe, and has done a lot to protect our nation. However, throughout history, it has frequently taken the approach that it must do any and everything to carry out its mission- even at the cost of our Constitution. This has led to trampling of civil rights and stigmatization of protected activities.

The latest iteration of this is the FBI’s Shared Responsibilities Committee (SRC). In a nutshell, the FBI is seeking to authorize community leaders to intervene with any individual the FBI deems could be at risk for violent extremism. 

The FBI should be given credit for finally understanding that we cannot arrest our way out of the violent extremism problem. However, their model for intervention is nothing more than the Bureau attempting to fill a void that is best filled by communities. 

Law enforcement should not be involved in non-criminal spaces. If the FBI truly believes in interventions and off-ramping individuals from violent extremism, they can best play the supportive role to communities.

The FBI has its role. And that role is in the criminal space, which includes investigating civil rights violations against Muslims - not perpetrating them. The FBI entering into a space where communities are best to serve only undermines the intervention framework. Individuals who truly need an intervention -- for any reason ranging from mental health to violent extremist counseling -- will be less likely to go through an intervention program if it is being conducted under the auspices of the FBI. This type of overreach would, and should, be objected to.

The way the SRCs work are disingenuous. Sure, if the FBI happened to come upon an individual with ideological extreme ideas who has not committed a crime, it could refer him/her to an SRC and then proceed to forget about the individual, since non-criminal activities are not under its jurisdiction. But in this case, the individual is referred to an SRC, and an FBI investigation could concurrently be occurring. If an SRC recommends the individual is rehabilitated successfully, the FBI could ignore it and continue to keep the case open. In that instance, what is the point of the SRC at all? It ends up being an exercise in futility -- or an examination into a new practice of deputizing individuals to gather evidence on behalf of the FBI.

This lack of transparency is harmful to the very goal the FBI is trying to achieve. Any individual who is being counseled by his/her imam, social worker, or therapist, will wonder if these individuals are working with the FBI - an entity that could very well arrest him/her and does not have any actual concern for his/her well-being.

We are all too aware of what happens with programs like these. One has but to look across the pond to the UK’s Prevent program, which was a spectacular failure. Apart from being ineffective, it antagonized the British Muslim community by focusing on the faith -- and as an extension -- their community as a hotbed for terror. Prevent, much like the SRCs, attempted to include communities only to serve as intelligence gatherers. Essentially, British law enforcement used Prevent to identify communities to work with based on their religious understanding and ideologies. SRCs, like the Prevent program, are a slippery slope for governments getting into the business of interpreting religious ideology. Prevent is the perfect example of the ineffective nature of government-led CVE programs.  

We will continue to engage the FBI to ensure that its efforts are not only effective in protecting our nation, but that it is abiding by our constitutional values. The only credible and effective alternative is community-led intervention initiatives. The FBI has no business telling an individual his interpretation of religious, social or political ideology is problematic.



    No documents found.

View All


    No documents found.

Help us continue our work with a quick
one-time or monthly donation.