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Friday, March 11, 2011

We'll Have to Wait a Little While Longer on the JTTF

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Fri, Mar 11, 2011 at 3:38 PM

Jon-Sperry.jpg
Mayor Sam Adams has canceled another scheduled public meeting on the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force and whether (and how) Portland should re-engage with it. For those keeping score, to the slight annoyance of folks in City Hally, the cancellation of next Thursday's hearing marks the third time in the past three weeks that Adams' office put something on the calendar only to cross it off.

Adams remains in negotiations with the FBI and Justice Department, and he's been in talks with his own colleagues on the city council. In today's announcement, Adams' office says the feds need still more time to digest the proposals and protocols Adams might present to the council.

(Earlier this week, Randy Leonard told me Adams had been receiving feedback from as high up as the FBI director's office—he also took some shots at a knee-jerk, clod-footed editorial by the Oregonian).

It's been clear—ever since the FBI-assisted Pioneer Courthouse Square bomb plot last fall—that the feds want to do whatever they can to reverse Portland's 2005 decision on withdrawing its police officers from the JTTF. Portland officials don't seem willing to go that far, not after hearing from civil libertarians and others who worry those officers might be made to violate Oregon's uniquely strong civil rights laws.

Expect, whenever Adams releases it, a proposal that mostly maintains the status quo: case-by-case cooperation, along with—if the feds can stomach it—even stronger oversight of our cops. And if they can't stomach that oversight, let's hope Adams has the moxie to tell 'em "thanks, but no thanks."

When will that time come? This time, Adams hasn't put a new date on the calendar. Full statement's after the jump.

As announced on Tuesday afternoon, March 8, Mayor Sam Adams and City staff received significant new input from federal agencies on the Mayor's proposal regarding Portland's potential work with the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).

Since Tuesday afternoon, the Mayor has worked through that input with his Council colleagues, and with the federal agencies. Today, the federal agencies asked for more time to work through potential procedures that would govern Portland's work with the JTTF, should the council approve them. Throughout these conversations, the Mayor and his Council colleagues are mindful of the three goals we put forth at the beginning of this process: Prevent terrorism, protect individual rights, and keep Portland an open and inclusive community.

"Our goal is to give the public ample time to review the proposal before a council hearing," Mayor Sam Adams said. "Accordingly, we are canceling the March 17 hearing at this time, and will provide more information as it becomes available."

For additional background on the JTTF and this public process, please visit http://mayorsamadams.com/JTTF.

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