Last week, the Willamette Week reported that the Portland Police were "largely withdrawing from the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force." The news item was included in the paper's "Murmurs" section, and had it been true, would have been huge news.

For the past few years, activists have been concerned about the power and scope of JTTF. An agreement between local police officers and federal authorities, the JTTF is charged with monitoring potential terrorism activity. They operate largely without supervision or oversight.

Activists have long worried that the JTTF is unnecessary and is being used not to spy on terrorists, but rather on otherwise legal political groups, like environmental organizations or anti-war demonstrators. Those suspicions were confirmed last year when it was discovered that a member of the JTTF in Fresno, California had infiltrated an anti-war group. Activists in Portland have routinely pointed out a few officers who pretend to be run of the mill protesters.

The Willamette Week article reported that five out of the seven officers acting in conjunction with JTTF were being withdrawn. But two simple phone calls cleared up the erroneous news report. A spokesperson from the mayor's office explained that the officers were simply being physically relocated to a different building.

"In spite of reports from the Willamette Week," he said, "it should not be viewed as pulling back from JTTF at all."

This past October, the JTTF's operating agreement was approved unanimously by city council, but under protests from Erik Sten and Randy Leonard. Both expressed concern that neither the mayor or police chief had access to JTTF files. They based their approval on the mayor receiving security clearance within three months.

Following up three months later, the Mercury contacted the mayor's office to find out whether she completed her application for clearance. She had not. In response to a Mercury article, the League of Women Voters lobbied the mayor to complete her paperwork. The JTTF will be up for renewal in October.