Luckily someone pointed out this article to me today at the PPRC rally.
The Mayor's office had told us that the Portland Joint Terrorism Task
Force (PJTTF) would be up for renewal either next week or the week after
that. It looks like they're going even two _more_ weeks later in order to
try covering their political butts by passing some resolution about the
PATRIOT act at the same time. (Probably not 100 percent of what the
Portland Bill of Rights Defense Committee and the ACLU have been
This means a few things, including that if we learn of ANY Portland Police
participation in the PJTTF between October 1 and October 22, we should
consider legal action. (The contract between the Portland Police and the
FBI creating the PJTTF expires on September 30 each year).
It also means we need to carefully scrutinize the agreement. We've been
told the only change will be some kind of agreement to use a car. I'd look
for changes on the paragraph limiting the police to follow Orgeon law, and
especially look at the new expiration date.
It means we have to remind Council that last year they assured us the
PJTTF would have civilian oversight in the form of Senator Wyden's office
reviewing activities...but then Wyden's office said they couldn't do it.
It also means that Council may not realize that many communities celebrate
October 22nd as a day to oppose police brutality. What better way than to
tell the Council that we don't want our police to be doing secret federal
work that the Mayor and the Chief can't even look at?
OK, there are probably a lot of better ways.
I'll keep looking at the City's website for a formal announcement about
these "upcoming items." I don't ever think they're real until they're
posted on the web.
Here's the article.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Portland may weigh in on Patriot Act
A proposal from Commissioner Dan Saltzman opposing parts of the law is
expected to be approved next month 09/26/03
A resolution putting the Portland City Council on record as opposing parts
of the USA Patriot Act appears headed for approval next month on the same
day the council is expected to renew police participation in the FBI-led
Joint Terrorism Task Force.
If the council approves the resolution sponsored by Commissioner Dan
Saltzman at its Oct. 22 session, Portland would join eight communities in
Oregon and 176 nationwide that have voiced concern about the act.
Critics of the law say it unconstitutionally expanded the Justice
Department's antiterrorism powers after Sept. 11, 2001, and that local
resolutions are having an impact on Congress.
"If we allow our basic freedoms to be sacrificed in an effort to prevent
future acts of terrorism, we'll be losing the freedoms we want to
protect," said David Fidanque, executive director of the American Civil
Liberties Union of Oregon. "We believe there's been a huge shift in
attitudes in Congress as a result of this grass-roots effort. People of
all political stripes are concerned."
The act's supporters say it's necessary to combat terrorism and that
opponents have mischaracterized its reach. Top officials with the local
U.S. attorney's office and the FBI have held individual briefings with
council members to voice their views, giving special concern to any move
they say would shut off cooperation between local and federal authorities.
"We welcome a public debate about the Patriot Act," Assistant U.S.
Attorney Kent Robinson said. "We think many of the criticisms of the act
are just plain wrong, and that's a point of view we tried to make known."
A draft of Saltzman's resolution says parts of the act allow the federal
government to engage in surveillance and detain people without protections
such as due process, right to counsel and right to privacy, posing a
particular threat to people who are Arab, Muslim or of South Asian
descent. The draft urges Oregon's congressional delegation to modify the
act where it "infringes on civil rights and liberties" and to pass a
Senate bill co-sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., that addresses many of
the same concerns.
The draft does not go as far as some had urged.
William Pickard of the Portland Bill of Rights Defense Committee said
other communities have passed tougher resolutions that require reports
each time the act is used or prevent city employees from cooperating.
"Right now, it looks like one of the lighter ones," Pickard said. "It does
advance the ball to at least make a statement."
Although tempered with caveats that they had not yet seen the draft,
Saltzman's four council colleagues were all generally supportive Thursday
of the proposal the commissioner has outlined to them. Commissioners Jim
Francesconi and Randy Leonard, while sharing Saltzman's concerns about the
act's constitutionality, stressed they did not want a proposal limiting
cooperation between local police and the FBI.
If the resolution passes, it would put the council on record on a national
issue eight months after a resolution opposing a pre-emptive strike in
Iraq failed at the council in a 2-2 vote. Mayor Vera Katz and Commissioner
Erik Sten voted in favor, while Francesconi and Leonard opposed that
resolution. Saltzman was out of town but said he would have opposed it.
Saltzman said Thursday that the distinction is that the Patriot Act falls
much more clearly in the council's purview.
"This is an area that really does affect everybody," he said. "It's not so
remote. The give-and-take on the national scene
about the Patriot Act isright now."
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, other Oregon communities
passing resolutions expressing concerns about the Patriot Act include
Astoria, Lane County, Corvallis, Gaston, Talent, Benton County, Ashland
and Eugene. The Oregon State Senate voted 23-2 to urge Congress to make
changes in the act, but the House did not take up that resolution.
Henry Stern: 503-294-5988;