Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Mayfield settles with feds

Brandon Mayfield, the Portland-area attorney who was wrongfully detained in the Madrid train bombing case, has reached a settlement in his lawsuit against the feds. From The Washington Post:
The U.S. government has agreed to pay $2 million to an Oregon lawyer who was wrongfully arrested as a terrorism suspect because of a bungled fingerprint match and has issued an apology for the "suffering" inflicted on the attorney and his family.

Under the terms of the settlement announced today, Brandon Mayfield of Portland, Ore., will also be able to continue to pursue a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the USA Patriot Act antiterrorism law, which played a role in Mayfield's case.

The monetary payment amounts to an embarrassing admission of wrongdoing by the FBI, which arrested and detained Mayfield as a material witness in May 2004 after FBI examiners wrongly linked him to a portion of a fingerprint found on a bag of detonators during the investigation of the Madrid commuter train bombings.

Subsequent investigations have also found that the FBI compounded its error by failing to adhere to its own rules for handling evidence and by resisting the conclusions of the Spanish National Police, which quickly determined that the fingerprint belonged to someone else.
When the Mayfield story broke in 2004, I recall reading some web site or another where a brain-dead conservative posted that Mayfield was "obviously" guilty because "he has one of those liberal beards." I kid you not.

I also recall some "private investigator" that one of the Portland television stations hired as a "consultant" on the air at the time insisting that the FBI never, ever, ever messes up fingerprint matches. Right.

I'm certain that "Republicans with a libertarian leaning" (notice how many there are now) will be glad that Mayfield, an American born citizen who happened to marry a woman from Egypt many years ago, has received some small compensation for the ordeal his family was put through. They seized his kids' Spanish homework as "evidence," for crying out loud. They held him for two weeks and threatened him with the death penalty. Oops.

It will be interesting to see how Mayfield's action regarding the USA Patriot Act turns out. This is why you don't screw with the Constitution--period. Human beings make mistakes. Our founders knew that.

<< Home