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Posts published in “Day: November 29, 2010”

The danger of not joining a task force

On Twitter today, from Portland radio talk show host Lars Larsen:

"saw adams walking down the street ... told him to his face 'you've made this city a dangerous place to live', his response was to say hi lars'

Well, right. What else would have made any sense?

Adams was Portland Mayor Sam Adams, who has had his share of problems and issues. Since this encounter came shortly after the infamous attempted bombing in downtown Portland, that clearly was the subject. And how did Adams, presumably, make that attempted bombing more likely?

The answer would presumably (since the investigation and enforcement here was led and mostly undertaken by federal agencies) have something to do with the federal Joint Terrorism Task Force, in which federal terrorism-related enforcement officials coordinate with locals. In April 2005 the then-mayor, Tom Potter, got crosswise with federal officials, and in what became a cause celebre the city decided not to join. The exact reasons why Potter eventually chose to opt out, after apparently seriously considering joining, haven't ever since been totally clear.

As it happens the current mayor, Adams, and members of the council, have this year been exploring joining the task force. Whatever the merits of that, consider the question from this angle: When a terror investigation and incident actually did arise in Portland (a five-minute walk from City Hall), was the quashing of the incident impaired by Portland's non-participation in the task force?

On the federal side of it, where most of the work was done, clearly not at all. Portland police actually were involved in the effort, even though they did not inform the mayor and council of what was going on. Federal officials (according to news reports) got a tip about a prospective incident months ago, and followed it through in a way that endangered no one's safety and brought the case to a close.

How would participation in a task force have improved on that?