On February 19, the Portland, Oregon, city council will vote on whether to jump feet first into membership in the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, or to drop the mic and leave the stage altogether.
Portland is the only major metro area which has chosen to keep the JTTF at arm’s length. In 2005 the council voted to leave the cross-jurisdictional organization because the FBI refused to provide then-mayor Tom Potter with classified briefings.
The problem isn’t about a mayor’s ego, though. It’s about figuring out whether belonging to the task force provides any benefit or protection from terrorists, or just cedes more power to the secretive national security machinery.
The mandate of the national government, in the form of the FBI, grates against the expectations of a local government held to account by a vocal citizenry. The conformist culture of the FBI clashes with that of a city that prides itself on a quirky, odd-man-out independence. …