Portland, OR., Withdraws From Terror Task ForceThe Portland City Council approved a recommendation to withdraw police officers from an FBI-led anti-terror task force after federal authorities refused to raise the mayor's security clearance to let him keep closer watch over its activities.
The City Council on Thursday approved a recommendation to withdraw police officers from an FBI-led anti-terror task force after federal authorities refused to raise the mayor’s security clearance to let him keep closer watch over its activities.
The city is the first in the nation to pull out of the Joint Terrorism Task Force – a network the federal agency has put together across the country.
Mayor Tom Potter joined the council in a 4-1 vote to withdraw two city officers from the anti-terror team.
The mayor had felt political pressure to ensure oversight after the FBI wrongly arrested Portland attorney Brandon Mayfield as a suspect in the Madrid train bombings last year – a mistake that prompted an FBI apology.
“The FBI cannot and will not grant top secret clearances for those outside or inside the law enforcement community who do not have a direct need to know some of the country’s most sensitive intelligence information,” Robert Jordan, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Portland division, said in a statement last month.
The FBI has created task forces with police departments in 100 cities across the country to investigate potential terrorists and prevent possible attacks.
“There is no doubt in my mind we are doing the right thing,” Potter said during the council meeting.
The mayor outlined guidelines which he said would ensure close cooperation with the FBI in anti-terror investigations, even if the officers aren’t officially on the task force. The measures resulted from his negotiations over the past few weeks with Jordan.
The two city police officers will be reassigned to a city-led criminal investigation unit and will work with the FBI on a case-by-case basis. The officers will keep the “top secret” security clearance granted them by the FBI, but those clearances would only be used in emergencies.
The FBI would brief the mayor and police chief if a threat arose, and the police chief will remain on a committee that is briefed on the task force’s work.
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press
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