Attorney General Hardy Myers today released an internal Oregon Department of Justice memorandum directing the Department's investigators to assist federal agents in conducting interviews regarding international terrorism. The document responds to an invitation by U.S. Attorney Mike Mosmann, acting on a directive from U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, to participate in a joint federal, state and local investigation into the attacks of September 11th. The memorandum also authorizes the Oregon State Police to participate in the investigation. The state Attorney General has no jurisdiction over local law enforcement's participation.
"Oregon law allows state investigators to cooperate with federal agents in criminal investigations," Myers said. "It is important to note that this is a voluntary process for Oregon citizens and residents who are identified for interviews and are not criminal suspects."
The memorandum, directed to the Department's Criminal Justice Division, states that, "Oregon law does not prohibit state criminal investigators from conducting voluntary interviews in an effort to identify and apprehend people who have committed crimes." It notes that if individuals are not suspected of any offense the contact is voluntary and interviewees may terminate the contact at will.
The analysis also identifies a number of constraints for state investigators and officials. The first constraint is a statutory prohibition against using state resources to detect or apprehend illegal residents. Investigators are directed to refer such cases to Immigration and Naturalization Services.
Second, investigative activity is limited to the collection of data directly related to the criminal activity. Myers' analysis directs investigators to conform to the standard required by the Oregon statutes. Myers instructed the Department's attorneys to provide appropriate training to investigators who will conduct interviews.
Finally, the law prohibits the collection and retention of data about a person's associations or activities unless the person to whom the data relates is suspected of a crime. The law does not, however, prohibit an investigator from asking a person about the associations or activities of another person suspected of a crime.
Department of Justice investigators will begin working with federal officials within the week.
A complete copy of the Oregon Attorney General Myers' memorandum is available on the Department's website at www.doj.state.or.us/hot_topics.htm or by contacting the number below.
CONTACT: Kristen Grainger or Kevin Neely, (503) 378-6002