Although our office has received overwhelming support on our position to withdraw from the Joint Terrorism Task Force, we have also received a few concerns. For the sake of clarity I would like to address those concerns and reaffirm our position on withdrawing with this FAQ.
If the Joint Terrorism Task Force withdraws from Portland, will the FBI will no longer investigate terrorist incidents in our city and will that put our community at risk?
No. The FBI continues doing terrorism investigations regardless of whether they are joined with the city, they simply won’t be able to use our police officers freely and without oversight. It is the oversight aspect of this that is crucial. State laws regarding privacy and civil rights are more stringent than federal ones. Without direct oversight, we would not know what work our officers are doing, what kinds of data they’re collecting, and who they’re targeting.
If we are in the Joint Terrorism Task Force, doesn’t the mayor get important briefings and won’t it make us vulnerable to go without those briefings?
If the FBI truly cares about the well-being of the city, they should notify us when it’s necessary, regardless of affiliation. As members, they still only brief us with information that they think is important, which leaves us in the dark about a lot of things but gives us the impression that we have full knowledge. The illusion of transparency is more dangerous.
How do you know that the JTTF targets people of color, immigrants, and Muslims?
Although the JTTF will deny the systematic targeting of people of color, immigrants, and Muslims, the evidence contrary to that is overwhelming. Freedom of Information Act requests filed by ACLU affiliates in 2004, 2005, and 2006 revealed that the JTTF collected information on peaceful political activity. These investigations targeted organizations like the School of the America's Watch, Greenpeace, Catholic Workers Group, the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center in Colorado, and the Thomas Merton Center for Peace and Justice in Pennsylvania, among others. If the FBI is willing to target activist groups that do nothing more than feed our houseless communities, there is no limit to what political activities they will deem worthy of excessive investigation. The JTTF claims to respect Sanctuary City laws, but has an entire section dedicated to ICE JTTF cases and has a long history of targeting immigrants.
The Guardian, Sam Levin
Brennan Center for Justice
The Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima
Portland Mercury, Alex Zielinski
American Civil Liberties Union