portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reposts portland metro

actions & protests | government | police / legal

Debunking Today's 'Oregonian' JTTF Coverage

This is a response to the Oregonian's biased reporting.

Debunking Today's 'Oregonian' JTTF Coverage

Unto The Breach Once More, Before The Vote

How many licks does it take to provide the context The Oregonian manages somehow to miss on the Joint Terrorism Task Force debate? Let's find out.

First, there's their front page story, in which the City's alleged terrorism expert rears his head once again.

"What this basically says is that Portland is a very politically correct and very naive city that is also very paranoid," said Gary Pearlstein, a criminology professor emeritus at Portland State University who opposes leaving the task force. "I'm not sure that's going to surprise anyone, but it might surprise the City Council to know that J. Edgar Hoover is dead."

Pearlstein, whose grandfather, a labor organizer, was investigated by the FBI under suspicion of being a communist, says federal law enforcement practices have changed since the days when Hoover and his agents kept detailed files on the personal lives of political enemies.

Readers may remember Pearlstein (or Perlstein, depending on what source you believe), because we took a look inside his mind one month ago today. That look found stories on how Perlstein isn't much respected in his field, and has expressed support for investigating someone "because he was a Muslim, used a computer, transferred large sums of money".

He's also not very infomed on the subject upon which the local media asks him to pontificate, as evidenced by his contention that "law enforcement practices have changed since the days when Hoover and his agents kept detailed files on the personal lives of political enemies". As we've repeatedly pointed out -- and as has been repeatedly ignored by the traditional press in this town -- more recent history has sown the JTTF out in Denver in fact was caught spying on people for their political and/or religious activities.

We understand that this fact -- which demonstrates the dangers of JTTFs without proper oversight -- is fairly inconvenient for proponents of participating in our own JTTF without proper civilian oversight of Portland police officers, but it's really not the job of the newspaper of record to continually ignore facts that are inconvenient to their editorial position.

Ah, their editorial position. That brings us back around to the paper's abuse of its op-ed pages, which we most recently recapped in an item about the paper's publisher expressing support for the World War II internment of Japanese-Americans.

Since the debate over JTTF oversight began in earnest, in addition to the editorial board's own published comments, they have used the op-ed pages almost enirely to support their own position, rather than to reflect both sides of the debate and community conversation, which is the traditional purview of the op-ed page, a facet of American newspapers never meant to simplybe a rubber-stamp of the paper's own editorial positions.

In today's editorial, the paper mainly praises Commissioner Dan Saltzman for being a "voice of reason" on the issue. Why? Because (lo and behold) the paper today also published an op-ed piece by him.

Here are the important problems with Saltzman's piece. First, he compresses and reduces the entire debate over proper JTTF oversight to the premise that it's possible to "be concerned about the far reach of the USA Patriot Act and still support the Joint Terrorism Task Force". We don't dispute that premise, since it's a perfectly legitimate position to take.

But the problem with it is that the debate has never merely been about the USA PATRIOT Act. It's been about the very real potential for abuse of people's civil liberties, as evidenced by the previously-mentioned -- and always ignored -- case involving the JTTF in Denver.

Ignoring the evdience that such abuses are very, very possible under the JTTF system allows Saltzman to dodge the responsibility of offering up some solutions of his own to the problem of proper civilian oversight of Portland officers assigned to the JTTF. It's extraordinarily convenient for him, especially given this bit: "We must continue to work to ensure that the Patriot Act and the rest of our homeland security laws adequately safeguard the civil liberties that are at the core of our American values."

How, precisely, does he suggest we continue to work to ensure those things? If not by demanding proper oversight of our own police officers, then how? Saltzman, sadly but unsurprisingly, is entirely silent on that. As we said: How convenient for him.

Then there's the moment at which Saltzman comes dangerously close to pulling a Jack Peek and claiming rhetorical ownership of the spectre of 9/11. "It's difficult to imagine looking a New Yorker in the eye and explaining our rationale for withdrawing from the terror task force," he says. "It would feel disrespectful to even attempt to do so."

We lived in New York State, and for some of that time in New York City. We continue to know many people who live in New York City, who were there on that particular fateful day. Many of those New Yorkers we know fully support the premise that the war on terrorism cannot be used as an excuse to turn a blind eye to maintaining proper oversight of our nation's -- or our cities' -- law enforcement officials.

We repeat what we've said here before, also one month ago today: "You don't own that day. It isn't yours alone. It belongs to all of us." Stop using it as a convenient political weapon to advance your own beliefs.

Finally, for those on either side of this debate who wish to witness the vote, City Council resolves the matter of participation in the Joint Terrorism Task Force this evening at City Hall, in a session to begin at 6:30 PM.
my take on the Oregonian's obsession with PJTTF 28.Apr.2005 21:15

bored with the Boregonian

is that their editorial policy is driven by the mindset of David Reinhart...what he
thinks is how it's going to be written up in their editorials and their so-called
"news" reports are going to "respect" the in-house slant he's put on what they'll
accept for publication. This is why I no longer read their editorial page, except
to scan the Letters to the Editor to see who the "special interest"-crowd of their
so-called citizen-writer's are into bashing...it's the same crowd of L-T-E whiners
that pop up everytime a "controversial" topic is being pushed. I only take the
newspaper because it's great size for my bird cage bottom...don't have to fold it
or anything...just put it in as it is! I occasionally read or rather scan other
sections, but I don't let 'em get inside my mind and plant their propaganda. I bet
their circulation is taking a dive from what it was years ago when it was a beacon
of liberal thought...but they not anymore...must be as to who bought 'em out and is
dictating policy. Enough rambling...the point being, anyone that let's their pro-
pagandists twist their thinking insofar as this PJTTF issue is concerned, really
hasn't much of a brain to be twisted in first place.

9:21 pm 28.Apr.2005 21:23


does anyone have a report from the meeting?

Potter was supported 28.Apr.2005 21:52


The vote was 4-1 in support of Mayor Potter! I got this from the KGW web page.

Way to Go, Bix, 28.Apr.2005 22:18


Very interesting analysis of the corporate media's consistent manipulations of the facts to suit their masters' agenda.

Oh, and as for tonite's hearing, see  http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2005/04/316450.shtml for a report back. Quickly, 4 to 1 voted in favor of the proposed pullout, with only Saltzman voting with the police state. I found it interesting that, of the very tiny handful of people testifying in opposition to the pullout, each and every one of them referenced scary things they had read, of all placed, in the Oregonian when trying to explain why they were afraid to drop the JTTF. How about that.

I read Saltzman's Op-Ed piece in THE OREGONIAN 29.Apr.2005 05:07

one who is amused

and frankly was not impressed with his writing skills, nor ability to make argument.

It like someone else wrote it and put it before him to sign and he did without reading.

If this is the quality of THINKING of this guy--as displayed in his writing skills--then
I see why he's referred to by so many of the "lesser member" of the council. Frankly, I
would have expected a better showing from a City Councilman that what appeared under his

He better enroll in a elementary logic course at PSU or PCC before putting his abilities
to utilize LOGIC on public display again, err it is he'll be the laughingstock of the City Council!

I am no longer swayed by THE OREGONIAN's editorial policy 29.Apr.2005 05:20

no longer reads THE OREGONIAN

as once you figure out that it's essentially the narrowminded viewpoint of a minor religious sect that's forever grasping for POWER that seeks to dominate all people
that fall for it, then you don't bother reading their views, as you realize it's
nothing but propaganda. There are many other sources of news beside them, and one
who relies solely on them for worldview will become as narrowminded as the _______
and then as obsessed with controlling others. No thanks...I have a real life and
don't need this silliness!