BY THOMAS BEAUMONT and EILEEN SULLIVAN
DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) - Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann said Friday the Obama administration is striking all references to Islam from Justice Department training manuals, exaggerating a directive from federal officials to evaluate procedures for religious and cultural sensitivity.
Bachmann, a Minnesota congresswoman and a member of the House Intelligence Committee, equated the effort to strike offensive references to Islam from material to removing suspicion of Islamic terrorism from department policy.
A conservative popular with tea party activists and evangelical conservatives, she later linked President Barack Obama with "4,400 American lives" lost in Iraq. However, the death toll in the 8-year-old war that began under President George W. Bush had already reached 4,229 when Obama was inaugurated in 2009. It now stands at no fewer than 4,481.
As she campaigned in Iowa, now the focus of her effort to win the Republican nomination, Bachmann accused the administration of making changes in training manuals under pressure from pro-Islam groups with terrorist links.
"And now Obama is allowing terror suspect groups to write the FBI's terror training manual," she told about 75 Republican activists in an eastern Iowa hotel conference room.
The FBI has not removed Islam from training material, said an FBI official who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter and requested anonymity.
The FBI has been conducting a comprehensive review of its training materials after it was revealed that what officials termed an inaccurate description of Islam, one that linked the religion to terrorism, was being used in some of the bureau's training programs. Last month, FBI officials said the agency was undertaking the review in light of an analyst's criticism of Islam during a lecture last spring.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole said last week he had asked that all aspects of the department be broadly re-evaluated for "sensitivity for all peoples of faith" in its training efforts.
"Examples include the efforts of our law enforcement components to ensure that their interactions with the community - whether in responding to an attack on a mosque or arresting a suspect in a counter-terrorism investigation - convey a sense of basic respect to the rule of law and the rights of all who have made this nation their home," Cole said.
In her remarks Friday, Bachmann broadly painted the effort as trying to remove the link between Islam and anti-American terrorism sponsored by radical Islamic extremists.
"And so now the White House has scrubbed all Islamic terms from the national counterterrorism strategy. The White House has removed all Islamic terms from the Pentagon's report on the Fort Hood shooting. And now, Obama is allowing terror suspect groups to write the FBI's terror training manual," she said.
The White House declined to respond to Bachmann's criticism.
In an interview with CNN on Friday, Bachmann said Obama's foreign policies were worse than his economic ones and linked Obama to the war's overall death toll as well as its cost.
"Under Barack Obama's watch, we've expended $805 billion to liberate the people of Iraq and, more importantly, 4,400 American lives," she said.
Bachmann is on the first leg of a three-day campaign trip to the leadoff caucus state.
--- Sullivan reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Pete Yost in Washington contributed to this report. (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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