The White House did not invite the director of the FBI to its Summit on Countering Violent Extremism this week, saying it did not want the focus of the conference to be on federal law enforcement, The New York Times
It was noted, however, that James Comey's Russian counterpart, Aleksandr Bortnikov, was invited to the meeting.
The Times said that the decision not to invite Comey adds more uncertainty to who in the government is leading the country's efforts to counter extremists.
"While the FBI works tirelessly to keep the country safe, this conference was not centered on federal law enforcement," an Obama administration official told the Times.
The official added that the administration's efforts to counter violent extremists "are premised on the notion that local officials and communities can be an effective bulwark against violent extremism, and most of the participants — spanning community leaders, local law enforcement, private sector innovators, and others — reflected this bottom-up approach."
The official pointed out, however, the Comey's boss, Attorney General Eric Holder, attended the conference, as did several FBI officials who participated on panels.
Bortnikov was not specifically invited by the White House but was chosen by the Russian government after it was issued a general invitation. However, he rarely visits the United States and is on the European Union sanctions list in response to the crisis in Ukraine, according to the Times.
The Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security are leading the programs intended to prevent Americans from becoming extremists.
The administration said in a press release on Wednesday that the campaign to counter violent extremism "encompasses the preventive aspects of counterterrorism as well as interventions to undermine the attraction of extremist movements and ideologies that seek to promote violence."
President Barack Obama addressed the conference on Wednesday
with a speech. In it, he warned against profiling people or subjecting them to surveillance simply because of their religious beliefs.
The president came under fire from critics for failing to state that the focus is on radical Islamic terrorists, including groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS) and al-Qaida, which are targeting the West in what they describe as a holy war.
Obama admitted that such groups are the reason behind the summit, but he reiterated that his administration will not label the groups "Muslim" or "Islamic" because he said they are misusing passages of the Quran to justify their violence.
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