Why FBI, Portland Are At Odds On Antiterror Unit


The city of Portland has come close to pulling out of a federal anti-terrorism team in part because the two cops at the heart of the dispute simply don’t like each other, says The Oregonian. The tension between Mayor Tom Potter, a former Portland police chief, and Robert Jordan, the FBI’s chief agent in Oregon, dates to December, before Potter took office. Jordan came to Potter’s City Hall transition office before Christmas to drop off the mayor-elect’s application for secret security clearance and special briefings about the role two Portland officers play on the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Portland is one of 15 local, state and federal agencies that contribute investigators to the team.

Potter told Jordan he’d heard from voters worried about the task force. He wanted to talk about adding accountability procedures, including perhaps giving the mayor a seat on the board overseeing the task force and the same top-secret clearance as the two city officers. Jordan told him he couldn’t have either. And he warned that the background investigations the FBI conducts for high-level security clearances are rigorous — perhaps too rigorous for the mayor’s taste. “Clearly, something Jordan said made the mayor very angry,” one official said. “They just didn’t click, at all.” Potter wants more information about the task force to ensure that Portland officers obey state laws barring them from investigating people strictly for their political or religious beliefs. Jordan worries about giving civilians –especially civilian politicians in a city not known for its friendliness toward the FBI — access to details about their investigative leads. Jordan, a gruff 25-year FBI veteran who spent much of his career fighting public corruption, has a reputation for lacking political nuance. With anti-terror teams in 99 other cities, federal officials fear opening the floodgates if they allow one elected official, even one with a life spent in law enforcement, access to top secret files.

Link: http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/front_page/1112439754296310.xml

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