The FBI is a federal agency, but it has spread its tentacles into every state and over 100 communities nationwide under the guise of fighting terrorism. FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces include personnel from local police and sheriff’s departments, and although their mission is supposed to be countering terrorism, too often they slide the slippery slope from investigating terrorism to investigating political dissent. A USAToday column recently reminded us of Nixon aide Tom Charles Huston’s testimony to the Church Committee about the FBI’s tendency “to move from the kid with a bomb to the kid with a picket sign, and from the kid with the picket sign to the kid with the bumper sticker of the opposing candidate. And you just keep going down the line.” It still rings true today.
JTTF Fact Sheet
- FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) are based in 104 cities nationwide, including at least one in each of the FBI’s 56 field offices.
- Over 500 local and state agencies participate in the JTTFs [including county and state police agencies, campus police, and Sheriffs Offices]
- 55 federal agencies participate in the JTTF including the CIA, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. military, and the Drug Enforcement Agency.
- In 2004, the FBI reported that state and local agencies make up 29% of JTTF personnel.
- State and local agencies participate in JTTFs under secret agreements (in rare cases these agreements, called Memorandums of Understanding have been made public under the Freedom of Information Act. A template MOU is available here) and they operate under the direction, and usually under the rules and guidelines, of the FBI. But, local taxpayers foot the bill.
- JTTFs are supposed to “investigate and prevent acts of terrorism,” but too often JTTFs confuse terrorism with the First Amendment-protected exercise of free speech, association, or religion.
- FBI agents [JTTF participants] do not need a factual basis or any evidence at all of terrorism or wrongdoing to launch an investigation using undercover agents or paid informants, conduct covert or overt interviews, search through government or commercial databases, infiltrate lawful groups, or dig through your trash.
- Without rules to restrict them, JTTFs are routinely unfairly targeting Muslims, people of color, immigrants and political dissidents for surveillance, infiltration, investigation and harassment or “disruption strategies,” just like they did in the 1960’s and 70’s during COINTRLPRO.
And it will only get worse under Trump and Sessions.
- For example, JTTFs undermine Sanctuary Cities:
- Many Communities that reject the Trump agenda have declared themselves sanctuary cities, cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement activities.
- Yet, many JTTFs also include ICE as members, potentially undermining the democratic will of the community.
- In fact, according to the ICE website, “ICE is the largest federal contributor to the JTTF, through active participation in each of the 104 local JTTFs nationwide. The agency also plays a critical leadership role on the national JTTF.” [screenshot captured 9.1.17]
- By placing limits on local police cooperation with JTTFs cities cannot only strengthen their status as a sanctuary city, they can expand to be a sanctuary for a number of populations threatened by Trump’s agenda.
- It is possible to limit your city’s cooperation with JTTFs by passing a local ordinance based on our model. Contact us for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org