On April 18, 2018, the Brennan Center’s Michael German, Fellow in the Liberty and National Security Program, testified before the Portland City Council in support of ending Portland’s participation in the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). Portland returned to the JTTF—a group of counterterrorism-focused intelligence-sharing centers—in 2015 after leaving them in 2004.
After the 9/11 attacks, the Justice Department and Congress changed Federal Bureau of Investigations authorities, giving the Bureau the power to conduct electronic intelligence, gather intelligence, and investigate people and organizations it does not suspect of engaging in criminal activity. As a result, Portland officers assigned to the JTTF would find it extremely difficult, if not impossible to comply with Oregon’s criminal intelligence statute requiring that investigated persons are engaging in or likely to engage in a violation of the law. while conducting routine operations under the Bureau’s current counterterrorism authorities and practices. Moreover, the FBI exercises these expanded powers in nearly complete secrecy, giving overseers, the public, and victims of abuse few opportunities to challenge them for legality or effectiveness.
In contrast, the Oregon criminal intelligence statute was created with one purpose: to protect the privacy and civil liberties of innocent persons and ensure law enforcement activities are based on evidence of wrongdoing rather than bias. By withdrawing from the JTTF, the City of Portland would rejoin the frontlines of a movement to uphold the constitutional rights of its constituents and hold federal agencies accountable to the law. Ensuing public safety includes protecting against unwarranted government interference with the free exercise of our civil rights and liberties.
Read the full testimony here
Testimony Before the Portland City Council on the Joint Terrorism Task Force by The Brennan Center for Justice on Scribd