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By Helen Silvis of The Skanner News
Published: 27 March 2013

In a 3-2 vote, Portland City Council accepted Police Chief Mike Rees' report on cooperation with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Eighteen people spoke at the council session, all critical of the report. They included: David Fidanque of the American Civil Liberties Union: Kayse Jama of the Center for Intercultural Organizing; Mary McWilliams of the League of Women Voters, Dan Handelman of Copwatch and lawyers Greg and Jason Kafoury.

Several speakers pointed to the FBI's history of targeting minorities, such as Japanese Americans during WWII, the Black Panthers and political dissenters.

"The FBI is America's domestic secret police," said Greg Kafoury.   "The pattern is clear. When real enemies are scarce they turn to potential enemies."

From there it is a small step to inciting young Muslim men to say something stupid, he said.

Jama said that instead of being reassured by the report, he felt it raised more concerns.

"The secrecy in this report makes it very, very difficult to have confidence that the civil rights of the Muslim and Arab citizens of Portland are being protected," he said. "The FBI have used questionable tactics across the country, including in the case of Mohammed Mohamud."

Commissioners Amanda Fritz and Steve Novick were the two dissenting voices, saying the report did not give substantial or useful information.  Fritz said she would be interested in receiving clearance so she could make her mind up after learning more. She said the report did not live up to the expectations she had when she voted to participate in the terrorism task force.  Commissioners Fish and Saltzman both said they believed the decision to participate was the right thing to do and the reprot was adequate to ensure Oregon law is observed.

Mayor Hales accepted the report but said he was "skeptical" of Portland's involvement with the task force and would be reviewing the policy and the reporting mechanism.

What would be the problem in reporting how many and what type of investigations Portland police have worked on, Novick asked the police chief.  

Rees said such information could "potentially compromise sensitive investigations."

It was the only moment throughout the council testimony when Rees looked rattled.
Novick then asked, "Do you think this report has much of a purpose?  Is there a point?"

Rees said the report complied with the council's demand for accountability and allowed for questioning.

Several speakers criticized the 2012 report, delayed by two months, as virtually a carbon copy of the 2011 report.

Handelman and others pointed out the report contains no information about the number of cases, or the cost to the City of Portland.

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