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January 15, 2020

In anticipation of the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) publishing an Annual Report ("Report") on its case-by-case collaboration with the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), several community organizations present the following report based on media accounts and information from the Bureau itself.

In short, expert and local testimony against the City of Portland's participation in the JTTF given in February 2019 before Portland City Council has been confirmed by numerous local and national publications. Portland was misled about the cooperation between its officers and the JTTF, and seems to be involved in questionable activity contrary to state law. To protect the basic civil rights of local residents, the City of Portland should stay out of the Task Force.

Both the requirement for the Report and the requirement that the PPB stop assigning officers to the JTTF on a part-time basis were established and affirmed by Resolution 37424 passed on May 8, 2019.

For background on Portland's history organizing against participation in the Task Force since 2000, pulling out in 2005, rejoining in 2011, and pulling out again in 2019, see .

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Getting information on FBI conduct is extremely difficult. The reports below are just a glimpse into institutionally biased FBI-related surveillance as it plays out in our region.

--Recap of 2018 JTTF Activities as Precursor to 2019

On February 12, 2019, the day before City Council voted to pull the part-time officers out of the JTTF, the Bureau released its 2018 Annual Report. City Commissioner Amanda Fritz requested the report to inform an important City Council decision. The Report falls short in several areas, but also exposes issues around the JTTF's activities and incomplete or even contradictory information. This includes Portland officers working on low-level investigations, reporting on fewer investigations than are indicated, and dubious community outreach.

FBI "assessments" are investigations that can essentially be opened up on mere speculation, that is, information that doesn't conform to the state law requiring reasonable suspicion of criminal activity in order to conduct surveillance. It would seem working on such assessments would merely by definition be contrary to the guidelines established in ORS 181A.250. Yet the Bureau's 2018 Report says Portland's Task Force Officers (TFOs) "co-managed" 29 such assessments. The participated in 35 "interview reports." They also assisted in four full time investigations, only one of which is outlined in the Report:

In May 2018 members of the Portland JTTF worked closely with
local law enforcement and family services to mitigate the threat posed
by an individual who was espousing increasingly violent ideology and
committing physically abusive acts against family members. The
individual was arrested by members of the JTTF on state charges and
successfully placed into mental health counseling and a treatment plan.

The Bureau-wide Annual Report for 2018 states there was only one investigation done under the auspices of the JTTF, but it is of a different case:

In 2018, CIU conducted 64 assessments and investigations on threats
of violence, including one investigation with the Joint Terrorism Task
Force, resulting in a federal indictment for Transmitting Threatening
Communications with Intent to Extort. at page 9

This appears to be the case of Kermit Paulson, a paraplegic man who made a clearly unachievable threat to toss explosives at Mayor Ted Wheeler's home.

So before we even get to the JTTF's activities of 2019, it must be noted that the public has not been given consistent reporting on their 2018 activities.

The JTTF Report also revealed that, in regards to "Outreach, Education, and Transparency," the TFOs and their supervisor, Sgt. Pete Simpson of the Criminal Intelligence Unit:

maintain relationship [sic] with community groups and
organizations with an interested [sic] in the JTTF. Specifically,
presentations have been made to the Jewish Federation of Portland,
the Muslim Advisory Council, the Columbia River Chapter of the
American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS), and the Portland
Citizen's [sic] Crime Commission.

The Citizens Crime Commission and Jewish Federation were the only two groups which publicly stated support for the JTTF in the face of organized opposition to the PPB's cooperation. ASIS, it turns out, is not a grassroots group but rather an organization that provides training to law enforcement and security professionals, and the treasurer of its local chapter is none other than Sgt. Simpson.

The 2019 JTTF Report also points out that the Criminal Intelligence Unit (CIU):

has a webpage to highlight partnerships with the JTTF, the
Oregon TITAN Fusion Center, and the Portland Police Bureau's
Behavioral Health Unit.

The Guardian (October 2) reveals the Fusion Center seems to also be collecting information about people's social, political and religious affiliations without reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, and needs as much attention from City Council as the JTTF does.

Perhaps most troubling is that the Report acknowledges "racially-motivated violent extremists" but seems more interested in looking at "Homegrown Violent Extremism," seen by many as a euphemism for the FBI encouraging suspicion of Muslims and Arabs as terrorists. No international terror organizations have committed atrocities in Oregon, even while white supremacist organizations and individuals such as Jeremy Christian have attacked and killed people in the area. It should be noted that white supremacy is an international ideology which has driven murders locally and nationally.

--2019 Activities

1) Journalists have exposed the Portland Police coordinating with the FBI, state law enforcement, and private industry to criminalize and disrupt people engaged in lawful activity opposing the Jordan Cove pipeline.

PPB Criminal Intelligence Unit Officer Andrew Hearst told the South West Oregon Joint Task Force (SWOJTF) he would let them know when Portland folks head south to protest against the Keystone XL Pipeline (The Guardian, August 8). Protesting is not a criminal activity, so it is highly problematic that Hearst is openly promising to violate ORS 181A.250.

The SWOJTF is based out of the Coos County Sheriff's office including local police, the FBI, the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service (OPB, August 8). It is not clear why Portland Police needed to be looped in to this Task Force.

2) The PPB, perhaps through the CIU, apparently assisted the JTTF, including FBI and Clackamas County officers, in seizing guns from Shane Kohfield. Kohfield threatened to kill Antifa members in a communication with a Congressperson in Texas and, in an action in front of Mayor Wheeler's house, Kohfield made more violent threats (Oregonlive, August 30). Perhaps this indicates a pattern that the focus on anti-terrorism in Portland revolves around the Police Commissioner. The writers of this analysis point out that even if it was appropriate to take away Mr. Kohfield's guns, this does not mean that the FBI's resources were required to investigate these threats.

3) In early December, the Bureau finalized its Directive (policy) outlining how the PPB will interface with the Terrorism Task Force, based nearly word-for-word on the May Resolution passed at City Council. The Resolution and the Directive both allow for the PPB to work with the FBI's Task Force dozens or maybe hundreds of times per year, as the cooperation is to be on "any individual suspected cases of terrorism and/or threats to life, including hate crimes, in or having a direct nexus to the City of Portland."

Directive 750.00, Procedure Section 1.1

Organizations who supported Portland's withdrawal from the JTTF believe this language is too permissive.

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1) The City of San Francisco, which pulled out of its JTTF in early 2017, uncovered a "white paper" showing the FBI lied to the City about officers being involved in low-level "assessments" which violates their local laws on spying in the same way they violate ORS 181A.575 (the Intercept, November 1). Activists working on the campaign that led to San Francisco pulling out of their JTTF point to this report as evidence supporting the City's decision to get out.

2) The Marshall Project reports that Saint Paul, MN and Atlanta, GA police have stopped cooperating with federal Marshals' task forces because they would not let local officers use body cameras and/or be held accountable. The Atlanta decision happened after one officer shot an unarmed man while working with the Marshals. The October 31 piece references Portland's decision to pull out of the JTTF as another example of cities ending cooperation with the feds.

3) Former FBI agent Michael German published a book about the FBI, which includes information about Portland's withdrawal from the JTTF in the context of examples showing the FBI's over- reach and improper conduct. The book provides documentation and context for numerous concerns voiced by Portland community members and groups during the 2019 City Council hearings, including testimony from Muslim Americans subjected to FBI profiling and detention. It shows that the FBI's leadership is not interested in protecting US residents' civil rights.

4) An Inspector General's report looking into FBI surveillance of aides to then-candidate Donald Trump revealed that to obtain warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act:

FBI agents withheld information from Justice Department attorneys
that was beneficial to [Carter] Page, and undermined the veracity and
reliability of a key source of information (Los Angeles Times,
December 9).

This is just further evidence that the FBI as an institution is not trustworthy.

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In addition to the long history of the FBI targeting immigrants, leftists and civil rights leaders, these new revelations show that Portland's decision to get out of the JTTF were well warranted. If the PPB's report on its 2019 activities continues to obfuscate and mislead the public, it should be cause to revoke even the limited basis on which our officers are currently restricted to working with the Task Force.

This report compiled and/or supported by
Peace and Justice Works / Portland Copwatch
League of Women Voters of Portland
Unite Oregon
Portland's Resistance
Portland Democratic Socialists of America\
Brandon Mayfield
Veterans For Peace Chapter 72
Individuals for Justice

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On this page


Activities of the JTTF
  in Portland and Related Actions in Oregon

National News: Getting Out and
  Staying Out of Federal Task Forces




Peace and Justice Works
PO Box 42456
Portland, OR 97242
(503) 236-3065

Page posted April 15, 2020


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