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RESPONSE TO TERROR

Oregon City's Police Won't Aid FBI

November 22, 2001|Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland police are refusing to help the FBI question Middle Eastern immigrants hauled in as part of the terrorism investigation, saying the practice violates Oregon law.

The Justice Department asked local law enforcement agencies around the country for help in tracking down 5,000 men for questioning about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But Acting Police Chief Andrew Kirkland refused.

Mayor Vera Katz said Wednesday that the city objected to certain questions that would be asked of those on the list. She did not offer details but said police may reconsider if the questions are changed.

"The law does not allow us to go out and arbitrarily interview people whose only offense is immigration or citizenship," Kirkland said Tuesday.

U.S. Atty. Michael Mosman, the chief federal prosecutor in Oregon, said the questioning is legal, but he added: "I'm supportive of their right to decide not to do this particular task."

The FBI refused to comment.

Civil rights activists applauded.

Mosman said the list of 5,000 was drawn up to gather information and denied it was akin to profiling. "It's just because we know less than we need to know about terrorism, and this is a way to learn more."

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