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The Christmas Tree Bomber and Portland's Politicization of Terrorism

2:54 PM, Nov 30, 2010 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Over the weekend, Somali-born American Mohamed Osman Mohamud attempted to murder as many people as he could at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon. Thankfully, handy law enforcement work prevented the jihadist from carrying out his plan. But it's all despite the efforts of Portland officials in 2005 to politicize anti-terrorism measures. Byron York in the Washington Examiner explains:

In Portland's deep-blue precincts, there was intense opposition to the Bush administration's conduct of the war on terror; residents worried the task force might violate state anti-discrimination laws by targeting Muslims for their religious and political views. So city leaders forbade police from taking part in it....

FBI undercover agents arrested would-be jihadi Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a 19-year old Somali-born naturalized U.S. citizen, in connection with a plot to set off an enormous car bomb at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square. Mohamud told the agents he wanted to stage a "spectacular show" in which hundreds, perhaps thousands of Portlanders would die. He also said he wasn't worried about getting caught because the authorities in Portland "don't see it as a place where anything will happen."

Mohamud's plot -- uncovered by the very FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force that city leaders rejected -- has rekindled the security debate in Portland. Tom Potter is no longer mayor, but his successor, Sam Adams, says it is time to "re-think" the city's rejection of the FBI task force. Council members who weren't in office in 2005 say the same thing.

Looking back at the '05 debate, it's striking how deeply concerned city officials were with the well-being of possible terrorist suspects, and how relatively less concerned they were with the threat of actual terrorist violence. The debate focused on whether, if Portland allowed its cops to take part in the task force, the FBI would abide by an Oregon law strictly barring police from collecting "information about the political, religious or social views, associations or activities" of anyone unless that information directly related to a criminal investigation and there were reasonable grounds to suspect that person was involved in criminal conduct.

Whole thing here.

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