Spies in blue - Page 2

A secret memo indicates that SF cops may be working as FBI spies — with no local oversight

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As the ACLU and Asian Law Caucus noted in a December 2010 letter to Cdr. Daniel Mahoney: "That scandal was not just about the fact that peaceful organizations and individuals were being unlawfully spied upon and their private information sold to foreign governments, but that the guidelines adopted in 1990 had never been fully implemented by SFPD. No officers had been trained on the new guidelines and no meaningful audit had ever been implemented."

Over the years, the commission has tried to keep tabs on police intelligence and prevent more spy scandals. The general order mandates that local police officials have to request general authority from a commanding officer and the chief to investigate any activity that comes under First Amendment protections — and must specify in the request what the facts are that give rise to this suspicion of criminal activity. The order also states that the chief can't approve any request that doesn't include evidence of possible criminal activity.

Those requests are reviewed monthly by the Police Commission and there are annual audits of the SFPD files to monitor compliance — so the notion that the local cops are joining the FBI spy squad without commission oversight is more than a little disturbing.

Officials with the FBI and SFPD are doing their best to reassure the local community that there's nothing to worry about. But so far their replies seem to duck questions about whether FBI guidelines trump local policies. For example, the MOU states that "when there is a conflict, [task force members] are held to the standard that provides the greatest organizational benefit."

We asked Mahoney to clarify: does that mean the local cops could be held to the FBI's standards?

"The San Francisco Police Officer(s) who are assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force always have and continue to be required to follow all SFPD's policies and procedures," Mahoney replied in a statement.

That's confusing; do they follow SFPD policies, or obey the MOU?

We asked FBI special agent-in-charge Stephanie Douglas whether SFPD officers are involved in surveillance and "assessments" (that FBI code word for creating spy files on individuals and groups) and whether they are identifying as SFPD or FBI officers.

"The FBI only initiates investigations on allegations of criminal wrongdoing or threats to our national security," Douglas replied April 21. "Our investigations are conducted in compliance with the Constitution, the laws of the United States, the Attorney General Guidelines, the Domestic Investigation and Operations Guide, and all other FBI policies."

Okay, that's typical FBI-speak. Here's more: "The JTTF is a task force comprised of FBI special agents, agents from other federal agencies, and local police officers who have been officially deputized as federal task force officers (TFOs) who have the power and authority of a federal agent. Because all JTTF TFOs are actually de facto federal agents, they are required to operate under federal laws and policies when involved in a JTTF case."

So the cops are actually feds. But wait: "Our standard JTTF MOU recognizes, however, that the JTTF TFOs do wear two hats, as it were, and directs JTTF TFOs to follow his or her own agency's policy when it is stricter than the FBI policy under certain circumstances," Douglas concluded.

Again: not exactly clear, and not exactly reassuring.

"At some point they need to say whether SFPD officers are engaged in assessments," Crew said.

These questions have spurred the Police Commission and Human Rights Commission to schedule a joint hearing in May to discuss what the document means, why SFPD never alerted the civilian oversight authorities, and whether a clarifying addendum can be tacked onto the agreement.

 

SPY FOR US OR LEAVE

The concerns are likely to be intensified by recent developments in Portland, Ore.

Comments

Sarah,

Nice piece of work. The answer is to make the office of Police Chief into an elected position. Sheriff Mike Hennessey suggested it a couple of years ago. That would give the people the opportunity to choose amongst a variety of candidates with clearly delineated policy preferences. You might want guaranteed foot beats and no collaboration with the FBI.

Elect the Police Chief!!

CW Nevius agrees with me.

Go Giants!

h.

Posted by Guest h. brown on Apr. 27, 2011 @ 2:16 am

Agreed. The Police Chief should be elected. Although it may not go the direction you want. (+1 for foot beats)

Posted by RS on Apr. 27, 2011 @ 1:02 pm

Thanks so much for writing this important article!

Posted by Guest LH on Apr. 27, 2011 @ 8:47 am

How many times must you be instructed of that? I understand you're British but this continuing emphasis on some local San Francisco ordinance or policy being violated by the Feds, like your constant bleating about ICE, betrays a severe lack of understanding of how the US government works.

Until San Francisco is an independent city-state it's going to have to deal with the reality of the fact that when the Feds move in it's going to have to cooperate - it has no choice.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Apr. 27, 2011 @ 11:05 am
B.S

No one in the United States of America! (under penalty of law or perjury "Has to work with any form of federal law Informant / Enforcement "). The truth is that most idiot's in America don't know the law's!!! they let the people with hand-cuff's, and conference room's forget who really runs this country. it is for the people by the people!!! no position of power shall not be subject to a vote by the people. Politicians' don't have a right to appoint other politician's under any circumstances period! PERIOD!

Posted by Guest Brettzilla on Apr. 27, 2011 @ 1:30 pm

I was wondering what this was all about.

sfgovtv board of supervisors meeting 04/05/11

item 9 resolution endorsing community concerns of surveillance, racial and religious profiling

starting at 1 hour into the meeting.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 27, 2011 @ 12:06 pm

It's WILLAMETTE, not Williamette! Sorry, this Portland-dwelling SF Ex-pat couldn't resist. Great article about this issue, which is still very much in debate up here.

Posted by Wazz on Apr. 27, 2011 @ 12:49 pm
HA

And Will-AM-ette, not Will-a-METTE. Thanks Wazz, as an SF-dwelling Portland expat, I have corrected above.

Posted by caitlin on Apr. 27, 2011 @ 1:02 pm

I thought conservatives were all over the right of a state or municipality to opt out of paying for unfunded mandates?

-marc

Posted by marcos on Apr. 27, 2011 @ 1:09 pm
B.S

No one in the United States of America! (under penalty of law or perjury "Has to work with any form of federal law Informant / Enforcement "). The truth is that most idiot's in America don't know the law's!!! they let the people with hand-cuff's, and conference room's forget who really runs this country. it is for the people by the people!!! no position of power shall not be subject to a vote by the people. Politicians' don't have a right to appoint other politician's under any circumstances period! PERIOD!

Posted by Guest Brettzilla on Apr. 27, 2011 @ 1:33 pm

No one in the United States of America! (under penalty of law or perjury "Has to work with any form of federal law Informant / Enforcement "). The truth is that most idiot's in America don't know the law's!!! they let the people with hand-cuff's, and conference room's forget who really runs this country. it is for the people by the people!!! no position of power shall not be subject to a vote by the people. Politicians' don't have a right to appoint other politician's under any circumstances period! PERIOD!

Posted by Brettzilla on Apr. 27, 2011 @ 1:34 pm

"With no local oversight"?!..Local oversight by who?...The MS13 'probationary' affiliates and other assorted 'Sanctuary City' apologists who still remain (yea!!for S.F. voters!) on our S.F. City Board of Supervisors?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 27, 2011 @ 3:41 pm

This is criminal.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 28, 2011 @ 1:22 pm

Are you trying to say that even with FBI superpowers our heroes in blue still can't catch the bad guys that make our fair city one of the best for murder and mayhem? Sounds like Gotham city needs a Bat signal.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 30, 2011 @ 5:13 pm

Great story. Love to see a follow-up on how SFPD has had time and money to do FBI work.
Also wondering, with the intolerance of the Mayoral regimes of late, how local political targets may have been provided to the Feds.

Posted by Grouchy Guest on May. 01, 2011 @ 2:06 pm

Since there are specific rules prohibiting SFPD personnel from initiating investigations and spying without articulable suspcion, police officers who do the FBI's bagwork would be in violation of SFPD regulations and could be fired.

That's terminated, let go, and kicked to the curb, with no pension, no bennies, no easy let-down.

Take that to Gary Delagnes and let him get a good whiff.

Posted by DocAmazing on May. 01, 2011 @ 7:36 pm

Since there are specific rules prohibiting SFPD personnel from initiating investigations and spying without articulable suspcion, police officers who do the FBI's bagwork would be in violation of SFPD regulations and could be fired.

That's terminated, let go, and kicked to the curb, with no pension, no bennies, no easy let-down.

Take that to Gary Delagnes and let him get a good whiff.

Posted by DocAmazing on May. 01, 2011 @ 7:40 pm

"As the Guardian previously reported, the 2008 decimation of San Francisco's sanctuary city legislation and the 2010 activation of the federal government's controversial Secure Communities program, which both happened during former Mayor Gavin Newsom's tenure, means that the city of St. Francis now ranks among the top 38 counties nationwide that are deporting "noncriminal aliens.""

Maybe because SF has so many of them? Get a grip, people. Illegal or non-documented, they are committing a crime by being here and therefore should be subject to immediate deportation whenever they attract the attention of law enforcement at any level. Not politically correct perhaps but where sanity prevails that is what should happen.

The loss of civil liberties is an unintended consequence of that liberal darling, diversity . Like the war on drugs, diversity mainly benefits the law enforcement - judicial complex,. Our runaway spending on prison guards is just one example.

Speaking of growth industries, haven't the ESL advocates have been unusually quiet recently? Of course it costs a lot more to bring non-native English speakers into the mainstream, money education institutions don't have but are required to spend anyhow because mom and dad still speak their native language at home. Meanwhile bright English speaking children, our future leaders and thinkers, who should be getting every bit as much help developing their talents are ignored in favor of non-English speaking minorities.

We are finding out the hard way, the expensive way, that the mixture of welfare state and open borders won't work. I wonder who benefits from tearing our country down this way? The liberal crazies are only implementing the policies, someone else is pushing the buttons.

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2011 @ 9:24 pm

Land of the Free? BWAHAHAH. Land of the pathetically dumb sheep and government puppets sealing the doom of their own descendants to live in perpetual slavery and ignorance.

I am ashamed to be a human being when all you filth can do is either LIE or believe lies. MAY YOU ROT IN HELL AND ENJOY THE SLAVERY YOU HELPED BUILD IN THE MEANTIME, SCUM AND WHORES OF MASONS AND FAKE ROYAL FAMILIES

Posted by USA IS A JOKE,especially the government and police and media on May. 06, 2011 @ 6:41 am