Sneaky As Ever 

Task Force Oversight Conveniently Forgotten

The Joint Terrorism Task Force has been a mysterious force in Portland for years. But what concerns activists is the cooperative agreement allowing FBI agents to work hand in hand with Portland police officers with practically no oversight. No one--not even the mayor--really seems to know what the Task Force does, or who they are profiling.

At a city council meeting in October, commissioners Randy Leonard and Erik Sten both voiced reservations about this lack of oversight. At the time, both the mayor and police chief promised they would pursue the necessary paperwork to receive National Security Act clearance.

Based on those assurances, city council voted to authorize the working agreement between federal and local officers for another year. But three months have passed since city hall made this promise, and still, nothing has happened. Both the mayor's office and the police chief claim to be pursuing their security clearances, yet were elusive on why they can't seem to finish filling out the forms.

"He's in the process," reported a police spokesperson, referring to Chief Derrick Foxworth's application. "But it has not been completed yet."

The mayor's office was more forthright, saying the mayor planned to first deal with budget considerations. At the council hearings in October, the mayor claimed the paperwork had already been stalled on her desk for a few months.

The issue worries activists who suspect that Task Force members may be monitoring and infiltrating peaceful and legal political organizations. It's not such a paranoid concept, considering a peace organization in Fresno recently discovered a Task Force member posing as one of their members.

More than a year ago, Sten raised similar concerns about oversight. At the time, he was assured the Task Force would look into providing access to Senator Ron Wyden. However, that promise turned out to be a red herring, as Sen. Wyden was never provided such access.

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