Oregon Anti-Terrorism Center Accused of Illegal Surveillance

Photo credit: Medford Mail Tribune

Four protestors represented by the NYU School of Law’s Policing Project are suing the Oregon DOJ for allowing unauthorized and unaccountable domestic intelligence program to carry out surveillance on the activists without any legal basis.

The lawsuit stems from the accusations that its anti-terrorism Oregon TITAN Fusion Center (OTFC) has been illegally surveilling environmental and Native American protesters who opposed a gas pipeline.

NYU School of Law’s Policing Project claims that TITAN is a covert domestic spying program that collects, retains, analyzes, and distributes intelligence on Oregonians, with a special emphasis on protesters who are law-abiding individuals exercising their constitutional rights to speech and assembly.

Lawsuit documents allege that OTFC acted to stifle public dissent and on the benefit of the companies bankrolling the $10 billion Jordan Cove pipeline

According to the plaintiffs, described as a group of environmental, indigenous rights, and social justice advocates, OTFC shared intelligence info on the protesters with public and private-sector partners as well as its extensive network of law enforcement agencies on state, federal, local, and tribal level.

The plaintiffs claim that the center was operating completely in the shadows considering its actions are not falling under the scope of any existing law.

Policing Project executive director Farhang Heydari has called for OTFC to be shut down until appropriate guardrails are implemented by Oregon authorities to ensure that peaceful protesters will not be surveilled.

Funded by the Canadian energy company Pembina, the proposed 229-mile-long Jordan Cove pipeline project – that would have run from Malin, Oregon to Coos Bay- had been stalled by protests for years, prompting Pembina to abort it earlier this month and asking federal energy regulators to withdraw authorizations.

The questionable surveillance practices have brought OTFC under scrutiny more than once, including 2016 accusations of tracking social media users who protested over police brutality against African Americans by tweeting the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag.

OTFC has also been accused of compiling intelligence reports on protests against former president Trump and in support of women’s rights.

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