Washington Monthly Authors Respond to Attack

As I blogged a few days ago, the Washington Monthly recently published a long article highlighting alleged problems with the quality of anti-terror training being given to American law-enforcement agencies. The article’s authors, Meg Stalcup and Joshua Craze, noted that there are question-marks over the qualifications of some of the private individuals and organisations who are paid to provide training, and that in some cases the training is inappropriately ideological and simply anti-Muslim. I also noted that the report had drawn hostile fire from a certain Joseph Bail; he is a recently-retired police officer from Chester (PA) and an associate of John Giduck, who is one of the trainers discussed by Stalcup and Craze. Bail’s attack was also promoted by Brad Thor at Big Government.

Bail got off to a bad start, denouncing the journalists as “Islam-loving, terrorist-apologizing” – such absurd rhetoric tends to confirm the point that anti-terror training appears to be in the hands of blustering ideologues rather than serious professionals. However, Bail went on to describe Giduck’s background and to claim that the journalists had been dishonest: they had supposedly concealed their purpose, and they had failed to research their subjects properly.

Stalpcup and Craze have now responded to Bail:

…Bail doubles over himself to illustrate John Giduck’s close personal friendship with a former head of the St. Petersburg KGB, a claim of Giduck’s that our story conveys without comment as it has no bearing on his qualifications as a trainer. We did however take considerable efforts to verify Giduck’s training with multiple Russian special forces units. We had a Russian speaker contact the Russian Interior Ministry (MVD), which investigated John Giduck’s ties to its units with which he claimed to have trained. The MVD responded with the information we relayed in the article. The only evidence of training it was able to find was a commercial course that he attended; no one at Vityaz and Rus had heard of him. We did not claim definitively that Giduck had never trained with these units, rather, we claimed that no one there knew anything about him.

We did denounce Giduck’s unsubstantiated claim that women were raped during the Beslan siege… The sole substantiation of rapes at Beslan given by Giduck, as reproduced by Bail, is “that was what everyone was saying”. No witness statements or institutional corroboration are offered, just rumours and vague allusions to a conspiracy of silence shared by the media, the Russian government, and the terrorists… The person Giduck suggested we contact when we asked about his Beslan sources was his commercial associate Yuri Ferdigalov; almost all of the people mentioned in Bail’s letter also have a financial interest in Giduck’s continuing success.

…Contrary to what the trainers claimed to Bail, we were clear that despite our academic backgrounds we were researching an article for publication in the popular press. On November 14, 2010 Craze wrote an email to Hughbank “We are finally finishing up the piece… My editors want a professional opinion on one of the trainers I interviewed.”… In his response, however, Hughbank is unperturbed that Craze is writing a piece for publication…. The other quotes that Hughbank claims he never said are all contained in the transcript of his interview with Craze.

….In the longer letter posted on the Archangel website, Bail concludes by asking whether “articles of this nature are attempting to point out the shortcomings of current terrorism training or is it the practice of taqiyya (Islamic Principle of Lying for the Sake of Allah).” We could attempt to assure Bail that we are not covert Muslims attempting to wage a war on America, but for Bail, it seems, the absence of evidence is grounds for certainty. Let it suffice to say that we were not lying, period, and that all of our reporting was carefully fact checked…

…The idea that because Giduck is a terrorism expert who wrote a doctoral dissertation on hostage siege tactics, he is somehow qualified to speak about Islam assumes an automatic connection between Islam and terrorism that is erroneous and misleading. We do not attack the trainers for not being police officers. Counterterrorism training is quite obviously an opportunity to bring outside expertise to departments. Expertise, however, needs to be both real and relevant to the police mandate. It should also be subject to a real system of evaluation, accreditation and auditing. This is what is sorely lacking, and what we sought to bring to public attention.

3 Responses

  1. […] the subject which was recently published in the Washington Monthly, and which I blogged on here and here. The subject has also received attention from the Washington Post and in a report from Political […]

  2. […] it. Articles on the same subject recently published by the Washington Monthly (see here and here) and the Washington Post  have prompted an expression of concern from Joe Lieberman and Susan […]

  3. […] an audio-book version of Giduck’s The Green Beret in You. Stalcup and Craze in turn responded to Bail’s piece, assuring readers that “we are not covert Muslims attempting to wage […]

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