Terror Exercise Goes Off With A Hitch
(and other "Terrorism" news)

TOPOFF Exercise
Other "Terrorism" news
Mayfield case update

TOPOFF: Terror Exercise Goes Off With A Hitch
Dogs Find Suspicious Cars in Cops' Hotel Parking Lot

In the middle of Portland's week-long terrorism drill, TOPOFF (see PPR #42), part of the City was shut down when authorities panicked--Portland Police bomb-sniffing dogs identified explosive materials in cars in the parking lot of the hotel housing guest law enforcement agents. The exercise included a "dirty bomb" simulated by a pyrotechnic show involving a dummied-up Tri- Met bus playing a MAX train on the "Steel Bridge" (a mockup at Portland International Raceway). Play time got interrupted by a real live terror alert. But it turned out that the rules of the game were not to bring live ammunition on site, so some of the involved personnel locked their guns in their cars. Portland Police had to bring in a second set of dogs that can tell bombs from gunpowder, and eventually they decided that one of the vehicles had some mild residue on it from an earlier training. The alert was over, and traffic at the Lloyd Center mall started again (KXL blog, October 25).

In the bigger picture, even though part of the exercise involved how to deal with "SUVs" (simulated untrained volunteers), no form of martial law was declared as some activists had feared.

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In Other "Terrorism" and Civil Liberties news:

--The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent-in-charge, Ken Magee, was missing from his Portland office from at least July to September, with no explanation coming from the US Attorney, Portland Police, or the DEA as to why. Willamette Week called Magee but he refused to say where he was (September 26).

--The ACLU reports that in early December, the Police Bureau modified Directive #315.00 to prohibit officers from assisting the DEA in prosecuting people for either Oregon's Death with Dignity or Medical Marijuana laws.

--In Quebec, protestors at the North American leaders summit discovered undercover officers in their midst. Three cops dressed as "Black Bloc anarchists," shoved one of the delegates and picked up rocks. The three were thrown to the ground and arrested by police. What tipped the protestors off? The bottom of the men's boots had the same yellow triangles on them as the officers kneeling next to them. Quebec police admitted infiltrating the demonstration (Canadian Press, August 21 and Ottowa Citizen, August 23).

--In the city of Tigard, Oregon, police have been given greater power to conduct searches in schools.

The Tigard-Tualatin School Board in October revised its regulations governing student rights to allow the police and search and rescue dogs to come onto school campuses to conduct searches, including random drug searches. However, under the new policy, dogs cannot be used unless there is a risk of injury or harm that might be prevented and the school "administrator reasonably believes it is immediately necessary to recover contraband to protect human life." Despite the confusing standard of the new policy, Joe Wehrli, director of policy services for the Oregon School Boards Association, told the Oregonian that a majority of the state's districts allow such searches under policies which been instituted over the past 10 years (October 17).

Also in Tigard, for a brief time after opening in October, the Jim Griffith Memorial Skate Park had a rule stating: "By entering and remaining in the Skate Park, you voluntarily give consent to have any backpack, bag or other container searched by Tigard Police." Sterling Robbins, a sophomore at Catlin Gabel School, reported to Willamette Week that his bag was searched for no apparent reason a few days after the park opened, but no drugs were found (October 31). Shortly after the article appeared, the rule was withdrawn.

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Judge in Mayfield Case Finds Portion of PATRIOT Act Unconstitutional

Supporters of constitutional rights hailed the September 26 decision by U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken in which she struck down a key portion of the USA PATRIOT Act, ruling that it violated the Constitution's ban on unreasonable search and seizure (Oregonian, September 27). The case was brought by Brandon Mayfield, the Oregon lawyer and Muslim who suffered the unreasonable search and seizure of his home and office documents after FBI agents wrongfully linked him to the 2004 train bombings in Madrid, Spain (PPR #34).

In 2006, Mayfield settled his case for $2 million (PPR #40) but he and his lawyer, Elden Rosenthal, filed this challenge to the PATRIOT Act. The law was passed quickly in the aftermath of 9/11. Rosenthal praised Judge Aiken for her decision in which she stated, "The government here is asking this court to, in essence, amend the Bill of Rights, by giving it an interpretation that would deprive it of any real meaning. This court declines to do so. For over 200 years, this nation has adhered to the rule of law--with unparalleled success. A shift to a nation based on extra- constitutional authority is prohibited, as well as ill-advised." Judge Aiken also expressed concern that the PATRIOT Act gives too much power to the executive branch rather than relying on the checks and balances of the three branches of government as provided for in the Constitution.

It has been difficult to challenge the PATRIOT Act because those subject to its provisions are rarely aware of it due to the inherent secrecy of the Act. It is expected that the case will be appealed by the government to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and, depending upon their decision, to the U.S. Supreme Court.


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