San Francisco Police Department Cut Ties with FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force*
By Tim Cushing
On Wednesday, San Francisco officers took a bold stance against Trump’s new immigration laws. In response to Trump’s Muslim ban, they are cutting ties between the police department and an FBI task force.
The San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) has worked with the FBI on a Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) since 2007, with the purpose of investigating terrorism threats, collecting intel, and making arrests.
Generally speaking, federal partnerships are forever… especially in Forever Wars. Local law enforcement agencies have been working side-by-side with federal agencies since the Drug War began. The same goes for the War on Terror. Wars keep government agencies in good health, awash in perpetual funding and re-purposed military gear. Local governments are seldom interested in ending these lucrative arrangements, whether or not the underlying activity is productive.
But San Francisco already sees its supply of federal funding drying up. President Trump has made it clear he’ll cut off this flow to cities that care more about immigrants than he does. So, there’s some gamemanship in this move — one that sends a message to Trump while expressing some resignation to the eventual fiscal punishment to come. The city of Austin, Texas is doing the same thing, but fighting the battle on two fronts, as its decision to call itself a “sanctuary city” has also earned it the displeasure of the state’s governor.
But the SFPD’s rejection of the FBI’s “assistance” in the War on Terror suggests a couple of things — neither of them complimentary — about the federal agency’s usefulness in this “war.”
The first is explained in the Think Progress article.
[T]he SFPD will no longer work with the JTTF on the grounds that the federal agency will likely increase efforts to surveille Muslims, following Trump’s recent executive order to prevent Muslims from entering the county.
The other part is implied. By telling the feds to beat it, the SFPD is suggesting the FBI isn’t doing much to actually make San Francisco safer. The Joint Terrorism Task Force seems to be more about expanding surveillance and obtaining perpetual funding than preventing terrorist attacks or uncovering their conspiracies.
This much can be ascertained by the FBI’s counter-terrorism efforts to date. For the most part, the FBI’s terrorism busts have relied heavily on FBI informants being the brains, muscle, and wallet behind supposed future acts of terrorism. Undercover agents have pushed some of the weakest humans in the nation towards acts of violence — acts which would likely never have materialized on their own. The FBI has poked and prodded easily-influenced people — some elderly, some with mental problems — into professing their support for [Current Top Terrorist Organization], helped them plan trips to [Top Terrorist-Associated Foreign Country], and purchased everything from duct tape to latex gloves to weapons for would-be terrorists that seemingly would have difficulty opening a savings account, much less coordinating an act of terrorism.
The SFPD feels it will be fine without the FBI’s dubious assistance, which appears to be mostly limited to trampling civil liberties and ever-expanding surveillance with minimal oversight. The city can apparently handle the terrorism threat without federal intervention — suggesting it’s not much of a threat… and the FBI isn’t much of a counter-terrorism agency.
What the city’s rejection says about President Trump’s orders and directives is pretty damning. What it says about the FBI and its counter-terrorism efforts is even worse.