On Wednesday, just before the Portland City Council unanimously voted to delay by a month the city's first-ever annual report on its dealings with the region's FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force, Portland Copwatch's Dan Handelman read aloud a stern letter signed by several civil liberties groups, including the ACLU of Oregon and the Portland National Lawyers Guild.

The letter asked Mayor Sam Adams to publicly release a draft of whatever that report looks like two weeks before the council is scheduled to vote on it, a long enough span to allow residents to pick it apart as needed. It also asked that the report be, what's the word, useful: As in, filled with nonconfidential details like how many officers have been assigned to terror cases and whether and how often they questioned if their work for the feds was violating state civil liberties laws.

In an interview with the Mercury after Wednesday's vote, Adams offered an encouraging response. At least on the first request. "Absolutely. I will try," Adams said of providing two weeks in between the release of the report and a hearing.

But as for what that report will contain? Adams wouldn't say much other than that he "wants to get it right," because the first report will set "a precedent" for what future annual reports look like. He said both he and Police Chief Mike Reese, along with the city attorney's office, have been too busy with other work to get the report done any sooner.

"I'd like as much detail as possible to ensure our legal rights have been protected," Adams said, "but not so much detail that we undermine our ability to protect ourselves from terrorism."

The promise of an annual report was a key piece in the compromise between the feds and the ACLU that paved the way for Portland to rejoin the JTTF (presumably on its own terms) last April. Left undecided in that vote was the stuff of the report.

Adams says he first wants to poll his fellow commissioners about the level of detail they would like to see in the report. Commissioner Dan Saltzman helped the mayor out by announcing his stance during the brief discussion on delaying the report.

"I don't believe any member of council specifically endorsed the ACLU's report" from back in April, Saltzman said. "And I think I would object to all this information being available in a public report."

How objectionable is that list? Read the open letter and decide for yourself.


January 24, 2012

To Mayor/Police Commissioner Sam Adams, Chief Mike Reese and members of Portland City Council:

In late April 2011, the Council adopted a Resolution outlining its understanding of how the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) will, in limited circumstances, cooperate with the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). Part of that resolution declared that the Chief will present an annual report to Council every year in January. We understand that the Mayor has proposed a resolution giving the Chief until the end of February to present the report. We, the undersigned, request that the report be released in draft form at least two weeks prior to any formal presentation to City Council to allow public input. We continue to urge the City to fulfill the promise of that part of the resolution, to ensure transparency and to assure the people of Portland that our officers are in compliance with state and federal laws regarding gathering information for legitimate criminal investigations.

In addition to the five points outlined by the ACLU of Oregon in their testimony to Council (and repeated in a June 24 letter to Council), we request an update on the security clearance status of the Mayor, Chief, and any officers or supervisors in the Bureau who are working with the JTTF.

Here are the points made by the ACLU:


1. Non-confidential details regarding the steps taken to ensure PPB personnel comply with Oregon laws, and any requests PPB personnel made to the City Attorney, including the number of consultations, the types of issues raised, and the action taken as a result of such consultations.

2. The number of investigations, the types of investigations and at what stage PPB officers were asked to work with the FBI JTTF.

3. The annual number of hours and officers participating.

4. The number of briefings made by the FBI to the Chief of Police and the Commissioner-in-Charge.

5. How often terror alert information was shared with City officials.


In addition, the ACLU requested:


In determining how well the resolution worked, the City should interview all PPB personnel working with the FBI JTTF to better understand any issues or problems that arose, especially around compliance with Oregon laws.


It is still of great concern to our organizations that the City's resolution uses vague, legally meaningless status to allow Portland Officers to work with the JTTF (the "criminal nexus" standard). Council heard from dozens of organizations and individuals, including their own Human Rights Commission, about the concerns of the PPB working with the FBI, yet passed a resolution which re-awakened a relationship we understood to be more or less terminated in 2005. In addition, it is not clear that there is any meaningful civilian oversight and accountability for Officers working with the JTTF.

If the Bureau is re-engaging with the Task Force, the least the City needs to do is fulfill its promise of an annual report to the public.


Dan Handelman, Portland Copwatch
David Fidanque, Executive Director, ACLU of Oregon
Martin Gonzalez, Portland School Board member
Mary McWilliams, president, League of Women Voters of Portland
Portland JACL
Portland National Lawyers Guild
AMPAC (Arab Muslim Police Advisory Council)