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Thursday, February 17, 2011

My confession

Forgive me, but I couldn't give a dang whether the Portland police bureau is or isn't in the Joint Terrorism Task Force. The chances of Portland's membership in that group ever making a difference in apprehending a terrorist seem nil. And the argument that membership in the task force somehow compromises the local police's devotion to civilians' personal liberties is equally ridiculous. In Portland, they'll kill you for looking at them funny -- but somehow they're going to stop short of illegally tapping your phone unless the evil feds make them do it?

While we're on the subject, the chances of Portland's unique mayor ever getting a security clearance from a serious organization also seem nil.

Comments (12)

Yeah, the whole controversy seems so 2004. But we do have multiple instances in just this state of the Homeland Security snoops swooping down on the wrong people, so maybe it makes sense to keep a symbolic distance from the JTTF.

I agree that the city's participation or lack thereof will have zero impact on actual law enforcement operations.

It seems to me that if you have a state law that prohibits investigations based solely on religion or belief, and a federal agency that explicitly condones such investigations, asking your local law enforcement to jointly investigate alongside the feds is just asking for trouble. Particularly if the civilians tasked with overseeing the police aren't allowed to actually oversee these functions.

There is also a state law against beating a skinny homeless guy to death just because he ran away from you. Portland police didn't follow that one -- what makes you think they're going to follow the one about religious persecution?

The only thing that stops the Portland police from looking up your... er, records... is inertia.

Particularly if the civilians tasked with overseeing the police aren't allowed to actually oversee these functions.

We don't have civilian oversight now, so why is this part of it an issue? We can't lose what we never had in the first place.

I think the JTTF concept is a good one, but not with the present mayor providing oversight. He has already proven that he can't run the city government, let alone monitor the police bureau that he demanded from Saltzman.

It can only get worse . . . imagine if Randy Leonard was the go-to guy from the city!

Given the PPB's past history, I don't think it needs to be involved in the JTTF.



"Until the mid-1980s, four years after passage of a state law barring police spying on nonviolent political activities, Portland police kept tabs on a wide variety of groups, including the Northwest Oregon Voter Registration Project, a food co-op, a bicycle repair collective, a group setting up a rape hotline and a battered women's shelter."

Notice the 4 years after the law before the PPB decided to comply. And as for spying on battered women's shelter, well the commisioner of police (er mayor) was abusing his wife in those days. The rest of the list must be because of damned hippies.

The interim US Attorney has certainly devoted considerable effort and resources toward convincing three of five people to rejoin the JTTF. Meanwhile, following the personal inclinations of his boss, the DOJ's Eric Holder, the largest bank robbery in history continues to go uninvestigated by the SEC and DOJ and remains mired, in its 29th month, in a bankruptcy court in DE. Indeed, the DOJ does not seem temperamentally equipped to pursue the financial terrorists who are even now intent upon inducing the next financial crisis, anticipated by JPM's Jamie Dimon every "five to seven years."

Matt Taibbi's latest contribution to comprehending the mess we're in starts here:
"Nobody goes to jail. This is the mantra of the financial-crisis era, one that saw virtually every major bank and financial company on Wall Street embroiled in obscene criminal scandals that impoverished millions and collectively destroyed hundreds of billions, in fact, trillions of dollars of the world's wealth — and nobody went to jail. Nobody, that is, except Bernie Madoff, a flamboyant and pathological celebrity con artist, whose victims happened to be other rich and famous people."

Can I get an amen for Gardiner's comment?

Thing is that financial terrorists have friends in high places and they help keep them there. Rabble rousers generally have no friends in high places.

Give the US, 30 or so years and we may be looking like Egypt does and have our own uprising.

Well, confession is good for the soul. I must confess that I, too, have little interest in this issue.

I don't have any interest in the "religious wars" waged by the right and left over PPB participation in the JTTF.

I do, though, have some interest in the economics.

The proponents are selling this as "two officers" attached to the JTTF.

Knowing a bit about PPB srttaffing, shifts, etc, I wonder if that is 2 officers riding desks for a 40 hour week? Or is it two officers per shift, 3 shifts a day, for 7 days a week.

If its the 2 officers, 40 hour week, and figuring 3 weeks vacation time per year, that is a relatively small impact, though impact none thev less, upon PPB staffing for day to day operations.

If its two officers per shift, 3 shifts a day, 7 days a week, that is a much larger impact upon PPB staffing for day to day operations.

Given the retirements that are going to hit PPB before 1 July 2011, an already understaffed PPB and the citizenry will face a loss of other cops on the street.

I think that before PPB is directed to rejoin the JTTF, it is incumbent upon the Mayor as police Commissioner, and the council, to answer the staffing issues in detail.

Regardless of which answer it is as to PPB total staffing on the JTTF, CoP ought to be telling the FBI / US DOJ / US Homeland Security folks that we need to have the feds pony up the dollars to pay the salary and benefits, including a chunk for the PPB's non PERS based retirement "system" or however many PPB folks are assigned to JTTF, and that money should go to additional PPB hires. No fed dollars, no PPB in the JTTF.

And just so I make sure I'm being consistent, I have the same economic concerns about the proposed 12 new hires for CoP to
implement its nascent, about to be voted upon, new tree bureau / office / program.

CoP finances are so bad that we can't afford ANY new positions to "protect" trees, and we can't be lending out scarce PPB employees to the feds without getting fyully reimbursed for those loaned personnel.

So there's this guy with costume beard and dark sunglasses and a bad-hair toupee on the bus mall downtown, snapping his fingers incessantly, annoying me to a distraction while I'm waiting for the bus.

So I asked him, "Who are you, and why do you keep snapping your fingers?" And he says he's an assigned JTTF agent and snapping his fingers keeps the terrifying persons away.

I said, "there ain't a terrifying person within two thousand miles of here."

And he says, "see, it's working."

Speaking of financial terrorists not being prosecuted, the NYT's Gretchen Morgenson reports today:
"Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles have dropped their criminal investigation into Angelo R. Mozilo, the former chief executive of Countrywide Financial, once the nation’s largest mortgage lender, according to a person with direct knowledge of the investigation."

Further, agreeing with Matt Taibbi and "Inside Job" director Charles Ferguson:
"The conclusion by prosecutors that Mr. Mozilo, 72, did not engage in criminal conduct while directing Countrywide will likely fuel broad concerns that few high-level executives of financial companies are being held accountable for the actions that led to the financial crisis of 2008."

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