Michael German speaking at the JTTF discussion Tuesday night.
Michael German speaking at the JTTF discussion Tuesday night. Doug Brown

Former FBI Investigator Michael German spoke at city council this morning against Portland's continuing participation in the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), a collaboration between Portland Police and the FBI that he says infringes on civil liberties. The city rejoined the task force—a partnership between various levels of law enforcement meant to take action against terrorism—in 2015 after leaving the agreement in 2004.

Portland's participation in the JTTF includes the assignment of two full-time officers to the task force who share local information with the FBI.

German's comments at the council meeting followed a panel discussion put on by the Oregon division of the American Civil Liberties Union last night, where he joined other panelists who had been affected by FBI monitoring of their communities, including Brandon Mayfield, a Muslim attorney who was wrongfully arrested by the FBI in connection with an attack in Madrid in 2004. Mayfield arrest likely played a role in the end of Portland's involvement with the JTTF back in 2005.

Panelist Zakir Khan from the Council on American-Islamic Relations said the FBI's monitoring of Muslim communities is traumatizing for community members, yet investigators seem less interested in investigating hate crimes, despite their rising frequency.

German also made reference to the Christmas Tree Bombing in 2010, a plot which the FBI manufactured by leading the suspect into performing an attack with a fake bomb.

German argued that Portland should withdraw from the JTTF because the it breaks local statute. Portland police are required to follow the reasonable suspicion standard, meaning investigations are based on specific facts instead of just a hunch. The FBI doesn't follow that standard and instead gathers intelligence on entire swaths of the population based on racial demographics and political affiliations, according to German. When the FBI shares that data with local police it breaks local statute requiring local police to abide by a higher standard, he said.

Mayor Ted Wheeler has previously expressed satisfaction with Portland's involvement with the JTTF.

Michael German's full testimony before city council can be viewed below.

portland city council from ACLU of Oregon on Vimeo.