Joint Terrorism Task Force Expanded? - Letter to vera
From the Oregonian - "Meanwhile, cooperation between the FBI and local police has expanded. The Portland Joint Terrorism Task Force, which before Sept. 11 included nine police officers from Portland and Beaverton working with six FBI agents, now has 40 full-time local police investigators teamed with 12 FBI agents."
June 5, 2002
Dear Mayor Katz, and Councilors Hales and Sten:
I write to Mayor Katz as the person responsible for the Portland Police Bureau, and to Councilors Hales and Sten as the only two members of the Portland City Council who took the time last year to listen to the concerns of civil rights advocates about the Portland Joint Terrorism Task Force (although I remain disappointed over the eventual vote of Councilor Sten.) ╩ ╩
I request the assistance of your staff in answering some questions I have about the attached article from the Oregonian, which mentions, almost casually, that the Portland Joint Terrorism Task Force has been expanded to "40 full-time local police investigators teamed with 12 FBI agents." ╩The article appears to refer to this as an accomplished fact.
My questions are as follows:
1. ╩When exactly did such a drastic expansion of the PJTTF become effective?
2. ╩What, if any, public process took place around this? ╩Was the Memorandum of Understanding between the FBI and the PPB amended? ╩If so, did it go before the Council for approval? ╩Will it go before Council in the future? ╩If so, when?
3. ╩If the MOU was amended without Council approval (a possibility alluded to last fall by Mayoral aide Sam Adams) under what legal authority was this done? ╩
4. ╩Given the City's significant budget shortfalls this year, how are these additional "terrorism" officers being paid for? ╩Are they simply being transferred from other (already understaffed) police units? ╩Or is the PPB budget being increased, and if so, which other City bureaus is the money coming from, and doesn't this require Council approval?
5. ╩Are the additional officers being "federalized" in the same manner as previous JTTF officers--i.e., removed from the direct supervisory authority of Chief Kroeker, so that they now report to an FBI supervisor? ╩If so, is the federal government providing any reimbursement to the City of Portland, or are all these new "federalized" officers still being paid for out of our local tax dollars?
6. ╩Given the recently-publicized spectacular failings of the FBI to deal with intelligence that might have prevented the September 11 attacks, what assurances does the City of Portland have that its City-paid officers will be managed competently? ╩Is there ANYONE at City Hall with ANY qualms about turning over supervision of _40_ of our local officers to an agency that cannot even read its own memos?
7. ╩Has ANY progress been made regarding the accountability and oversight issues which were identified so clearly in last fall's PJTTF hearings? As it was explained to us at the time, PJTTF files cannot be reviewed by the Independent Police Review office or citizen committee, by the City Auditor, by the Mayor or any City Councilor, not even by Chief Kroeker! ╩We were assured that there IS adequate oversight, under the preposterous theory that Lieutenant Kane will surely report any problems to Chief Kroeker, who will then tell the Mayor. ╩As I recall, Councilor Sten was particularly unsatisfied with this lack of oversight, and promised to see if anything could be done. ╩HAS anything been done?
8. ╩The Oregonian article mentions, once again, Portland's supposed reputation as a haven for "eco-terrorism," and specifically mentions Intel as one of the local institutions potentially in need of protection. ╩This sounds like an invocation of the old threat that Portland-based multinational corporations will be targets for politically-motivated property destruction--which is the only kind of "terrorism" that Oregon seems to have. ╩While vandalism and arson are certainly serious crimes, and while reasonable minds may differ about whether to call them "terrorism," they hardly rise to the level of suicide bombings or hijackings. ╩Last fall, Chief Kroeker and the Mayor both admitted that there is no "credible threat" of any of the latter sort of terrorism here in Portland, or in the State of Oregon. ╩Has this threat assessment changed? ╩If not, what does this expanded PJTTF have to do with keeping the PEOPLE of Portland safe from September-11 type terrorism? ╩Or is it, rather, more about keeping the CORPORATIONS of Portland safe from ELF-style vandalism? ╩And if so, do we really need 40 PPB officers working on this full-time?
(I note parenthetically that in Chief Kroeker's City Council presentation last fall, he gave a list of whom the PJTTF existed to protect, including timber companies, animal research and biotech institutions, unspecified multinational corporations, meat processing plants, and women's clinics--but nowhere mentioning the people of Portland! ╩I also recall that, even post-September 11, Chief Kroeker was unable to give an example of the PJTTF actually protecting the citizenry from terrorism. ╩In a long list of PJTTF "accomplishments," he enumerated incidents from other cities, from before the PJTTF was established, and including crimes that clearly weren't terrorism, such as a bank robbery. ╩The best example he was able to give was the alleged plan to blow up the Space Needle--which was thwarted by Customs officials, not police or FBI.)
I would appreciate an answer in writing to my questions as soon as possible.
Quote from Oregonian
"Meanwhile, cooperation between the FBI and local police has expanded. The Portland Joint Terrorism Task Force, which before Sept. 11 included nine police officers from Portland and Beaverton working with six FBI agents, now has 40 full-time local police investigators teamed with 12 FBI agents.
Portland serves as the FBI's headquarters office for eco-terrorism, gathering and analyzing field intelligence from around the country."
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