Nat'l Security Experts Say Congress Lacking 'Mature Debate' on Violent Extremism

February 8, 2011

On Monday Feb. 7, the Muslim Public Affairs Council hosted a special forum on Capitol Hill featuring CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, former National Security Council member Roger Cressey and MPAC's Government and Policy Analyst Alejandro Beutel to discuss the relationship between "Muslim Americans, Law Enforcement and National Security." 

SEE: "Muslims to Be Congressional Hearings' Main Focus" (New York Times)

SEE ALSO: "Countering Peter King, Muslim Group Hosts Forum on Cooperating with the Feds" (TPMMuckraker)

Before a standing room audience, panelists detailed the continuous work of Muslim American communities around the country and law enforcement to promote healthy relations and keep their communities safe. 

Watch the video now to learn about how Muslim communities are partnering with law enforcement, what challenges these partnerships face, and what policymakers and legislators can do to overcome these hurdles.

WATCH: Full video of the MPAC Forum and the Q&A that followed and full transcript of the video

"This briefing was extremely timely, given the national conversation taking place about Muslim Americans and their partnership with law enforcement," said Haris Tarin, Director of the Washington, DC office. "Trust between law enforcement and Muslim communities is crucial in order to deal with the challenge of violent extremism. We must not bow to fear mongering or political theater as we tackle this issue."

Bergen and Cressey discussed the manner in which sophisticated terrorists stop communicating in order to avoid detection. When that happens, they said, law enforcement must rely almost entirely on tips from the Muslim community to catch them. Cressey added that Congress is lacking a "mature debate on privacy versus security"

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca commented directly on the upcoming hearings to be convened by the House Homeland Security Committee:

"If he has evidence of non-cooperation, he should bring it forward... We have as much cooperation as we are capable of acquiring through public trust relationships. I sit on the Major City chiefs association as one of three chairs. I also sit on the Major County Sheriff's Association and I'm on the national board of directors of the international association for the sheriffs departments. Here's the thing: I don't know what Mr. King is hearing or who he's hearing it from. Muslim Americans in the county of Los Angeles have been overwhelmingly astounded by terrorist attacks -- like everyone else -- and overwhelmingly concerned about a non-repeat performance of that kind, and are willing to get involved and help."

Forum panelists included:

  • Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Analyst and current Director of the National Security Studies Program at the New America Foundation
  • Roger Cressey, Former Director for Transnational Threats at the National Security Council and Professor at Georgetown University
  • Sheriff Lee Baca, Los Angeles County Sheriff and Founder of the Muslim American Homeland Security Congress
  • Alejandro J. Beutel, Government and Policy Analyst, and author of MPAC's policy paper on countering violent extremism, "Building Bridges to Strengthen America"
  • Suhail Khan (moderator), Senior Fellow at the Institute for Global Engagement and Board Member of the American Conservative Union



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