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Portland to Pull Officers Off Task Force

April 22, 2005

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ The city plans to pull out of an FBI-led anti-terror task force, Mayor Tom Potter said Friday, because federal authorities won’t grant him a high security clearance to let him keep closer watch on its activities.

The two city police officers in the task force are to be reassigned to a city-led criminal intelligence unit and will assist the FBI on a case-by-case basis, Potter said.

Potter, who was elected mayor last November, has been demanding that he be given higher security clearance by the FBI so there is greater civilian oversight over the task force.

Robert Jordan, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Portland division, said it was unfortunate that he and Potter had failed to overcome the differences over higher security clearance. But he said there is no precedent for granting top secret clearance to an elected municipal official.

``The FBI cannot and will not grant Top Secret clearances for those outside or inside the law enforcement community who do not have a direct need to know some of the country’s most sensitive intelligence information,″ Jordan said in a statement last month.

Jordan said that as far as he knows, Portland would be the first city in the nation to remove its officers from a Joint Terrorism Task Force.

In a statement released by the mayor’s office, Potter stressed the city will continue working with the FBI on terrorism investigations.

``Each of our organizations is dedicated to doing everything possible to keep the citizens of Portland and our region safe and secure,″ Potter said.

The FBI has created task forces with police departments in 100 cities across the country to investigate potential terrorists and prevent possible attacks. But civil liberties groups in Portland have raised questions about civilian oversight.

Portland’s City Council must approve the removal of the officers from the task force. A majority of members have already expressed support for such a move.

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