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stevedeshazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-01-04 06:53 PM
Original message
The Wrong Man
If you think the USA PATRIOT Act can't affect you, think again...

Brandon Mayfield speaks out on a badly botched arrest

By Andrew Murr
Newsweek /

June 7 issue - He's been home for more than a week now, back with his wife and kids and grateful to be putting his life back together. But Brandon Mayfield, the Portland, Ore., lawyer who was wrongly jailed for 14 days as a "material witness" in the deadly Madrid bombings, is still mad as hell. Mad at the FBI, for insisting his fingerprint had been found on a plastic bag used by the terroristseven though Mayfield hadn't traveled abroad in a decade and the Spanish authorities doubted the print match. Madder still at the Justice Department, for using the material-witness law to round him up on flimsy evidence and then bolstering the shaky case against him by painting him as a Muslim extremist. (The affidavit that helped secure his arrest made much of the fact that he had converted to Islam, is married to an Egyptian-born woman and had once briefly represented a member of the "Portland Seven" in a child-custody case.) "Even though I was arrested as a material witness, don't be confused," Mayfield told NEWSWEEK in a phone interview Friday. "They were telling the judge and the world that they've got a fingerprint that's a 100 percent match ... What are the implications of that, legally? It's a death sentence."

Mayfield says the Feds left no doubt that they considered him a suspect, not a witness. When he was arrested at his office on May 6, FBI agents cuffed his hands behind his back. He asked them to remove the cuffs, explaining that he wanted to avoid public humiliation in the parking lot. "The agent said, 'Don't worry about it. The media is right behind us'," Mayfield recalls. "I was pretty blown away. Is this the way they do business? They call in the helicopters, SWAT teams, the whole world, the media?"

Spanish authorities put an end to the ordeal when they announced that the fingerprint actually belonged to Ouhnane Daoud, an Algerian living in Spain. Mayfield was released May 20. The FBI, which once said it was absolutely certain the fingerprint was Mayfield's, now says the print is "of no value for identification purposes." One sign of how badly the case was handled: the FBI publicly apologized to Mayfield, something the bureau almost never does. Mayfield appreciates the mea culpa. "I commend them for stepping up to the plate ... and admitting they made a mistake," he says. "I'm from the Midwest, and an apology goes a long way."

But it still doesn't settle the most vexing question: how could the Feds have gotten it so wrong? The FBI has blamed the mistake on the poor quality of a digital copy of the print Spain provided, which confused even its best analysts. The bureau points out that an independent fingerprint analyst hired by Mayfield's defense team also agreed that the print was a match to Mayfield (a claim Mayfield's lawyers confirm). The Feds have further claimed that Spain also believed the FBI had a good match. But Spanish authorities insist that they always doubted the Mayfield connection. "At no time did we give our approval," a Spanish police official told NEWSWEEK. "We kept working on the identification ... Obviously we wouldn't have kept working on it if we were already 100 percent convinced."

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T Bone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-01-04 08:08 PM
Response to Original message
1. Important
deserves a :kick:
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SammyWinstonJack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-01-04 08:12 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. A vote for Bush* is a vote for dictatorship
Let this be a lesson for all Americans!
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kentuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-01-04 08:24 PM
Response to Original message
3. Now you know why Ashcroft and Mueller were calling the terrorist alert...
the other day. They had illegally held an attorney - an attorney! - for two weeks. They were scared to admit to their grievous error so they call a terrorist alert, hoping to cover the tracks of a story they thought was going to be much bigger than it turned out to be....
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stevedeshazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-01-04 08:49 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Yes, that timing was suspect
Bad news for Bushies = big fear diversion.

This is a bigger story than the media would have us believe.

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Generator Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-01-04 08:59 PM
Response to Original message
5. Spain doubted the match from the get-go
So either the "great" US of A's FBI is less competent than Spain OR they don't care who they get as long as they can show they got someone-anyone in the war on terror.

How about both? It makes you shudder.
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Voltaire99 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-01-04 10:27 PM
Response to Original message
6. Kerry should make hay out of this.
Alas, he appears to think - to the extent that he does about the issue at all - that a little fine tuning of the Patriot Act will be enough. Ha!
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Matilda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-01-04 10:36 PM
Response to Original message
7. It should have been a simple matter to check whether he'd left the country
at that time. With all the screening of airline passengers, it
would have been pretty hard for him to have slipped in and out
unnoticed. Unless they thought he swam there.
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stevedeshazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-01-04 11:02 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. Yup
It sure as hell should not have taken two weeks.
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struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-01-04 10:44 PM
Response to Original message
8. "How could the Feds have gotten it so wrong?"

It's really quite simple. The Bushistas political hacks are in charge, and they have a simple strategy: threaten the lives and livelihood of anybody who doesn't follow their agenda. In every agency, the Bushistas thus find and cultivate gutless folks who do what they're told. In this case, the instructions were to get Mayfield, because of a tenuous connection to somebody else the F.I.B. was looking at.

The Bushistas haven't completely won yet, but they're trying hard to subvert all of our institutions.
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