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Thursday, May 20, 2004

The shifting story

Now that Brandon Mayfield's apparently been cleared of involvement in the Madrid bombings, the next story will be why the CIA and the FBI were checking his fingerprints, anyway.

Sure, they were on file, his having been in the military and being a member of the Oregon State Bar. But why did they check them? Did they check every fingerprint on file with every government agency around the world?

Or is he on some kind of list, because he once represented a member of the Portland Seven in a child custody case?

Who else's prints are they checking? Every devout Muslim they know of?

This story is going to turn out quite different from the Maher Hawash case, that's for sure.

Comments (14)

He hasn't been cleared yet Jack. My understanding is the Grand Jury proceedings have not finished and they are still under protective order not to talk about the case. So he has been released, not cleared.

But you are lawyer, you tell me if they release a guy who is still possibly in trouble?

If they arrested this guy for nothing there is serious egg on Ashcroft's face.

What do we take from this - an attorney represents someone questionable and suddenly (based on inconclusive evidence) he is a suspect in a foreign terrorism plot?

If this wasn't intimidation it was incompetence.

If they had anything at all on this guy -- anything -- you just know he'd still be in the slammer. For him to be walking tells me he's clean as a whistle. Of course, I could be wrong, but I doubt it.

I should note that he was held as a material witness. There might be many reasons why he was released. The one that makes the most sense would be that the court found that he either already testified or there was no danger of him leaving without giving testimony to the grand jury. However, at the moment we don't know the exact circumstances, so to say whether he is "cleared" or "not cleared" or under suspicion is a bit premature.

Seems like his fingerprints would have come up automatically - maybe I'm wrong, but I think the FBI, etc can access essentially every fingerprint in any database in the country, if it's been digitized. I would hope that they would check every fingerprint they had access to. So they didn't necessarily target Mayfield in particular. But it does make you wonder about the technology, if it came up with a false positive.

Yeah, I think he's clean too. It's another example of how scary this country (and city) has become. Even though Hawash started looking bad after awhile, there was no reason to hold him as a material witness the way they did.

Ashcroft's thinking is probably, "Muslim=Bad."

The only way this is going to stop is if Brandon Mayfield sues, and sues hard. Mayfield vs Ashcroft needs to happen. Ashcroft is already in the law books as losing in the Santa Cruz case. We need to rack up some winning lawsuits to illustrate just how bad and unlawful the Patriot Act is; this is the only way it will be overturned.

I agree with the overall sentiment, but also consider that he was recently in Egypt and he did have contact with terrorist folks in PDX. Those things don't make him guilty, but they do generate reasonable suspicion.

Mayfield's religious incantations after his release give him something in common with Ashcroft, in my eyes.

Of course, I can barely abide the requisite and ubiquitous "God Bless Americas."

I recal reading in the local media, I think the Oregonian, that Mayfield hadn't left the country in ten years. Also his wife is from Egypt, which would seem to give hime some pretext to travel there.

Being a lawyer for a defendent is not the same type of contact as the type that should put a person under suspician. Does a lawyer who defends a pedophile "have contact" with said pedophile? Yes. Does that mean that one can have a "reasonable suspician" that the lawyer is a pedophile? I think not.

We don't have enough information on Mayfield yet, however given Ashcroft's incompetent bumbling in the past, and the top down management approach of the Bush administration generally, I am not willing to give the government the benefit of the doubt. We should all wait until we have more concrete info before reaching a conclusion on this matter.

pdxkona: This wasn't a Patriot Act case, he was detained under the 1984 material witness statute.

Jack, his prints were automatically kicked out by the AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System). It's been in use for years.

I find it interesting that a partial fingerprint from a terrorist bombing in Spain would match up (even partially) with a Muslim convert lawyer in Portland. What are the chances of that? Maybe this guy should play the Lotto.

Do you think the FBI just goes around picking on random Muslims for the hell of it? Do you think there was some kind of meeting at the Justice Dept where they picked this guy's name out of a hat to be persecuted? That just doesn't make sense.

As I read the story, the FBI still stands by their match. Do you think the fingerprint experts of the Spanish police are more skilled than the FBI lab? I sure don't.

And let's not forget. We have only seen what his family and friends say. Not the most reliable source. Nobody has any hard information on this.

AFIS is a computer-generated fingerprint identification system, operated normally by lay technicians. Even though it's pile on Ashcroft day in the liberal world, know that AFIS tracks down thousands of murderers, rapists and other anti-social criminals on a daily basis. Here in NJ, AFIS is operated by technicians who are soccer-moms and members of the PTA.
This has nothing to do with the Patriot Act or vilifying the Justice Department. The computer spits out a hit, and the investigators then do their jobs to see what it means. If the computer spit my name out, I would understand why I was being investigated. We live in dangerous times, and I'm glad that we are taking a hard line against terrorism. Not like Slick Willie and SpaceCadet Janet Reno.
If you owned a Blimpy's, you wouldn't let her work the slicer. How did someone put her in charge of national security ?

As I predicted, the rest of the "case" has been dropped.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The shifting story:

» Oregon lawyer not quite free from It's a Crock!
By now you probably have heard the story of Brandon Mayfield, the Oregon lawyer, a Muslim, who was mistakenly linked to the Madrid train bombings by fingerprints that turned out [Read More]

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