Friday, December 01, 2006

Spence / Mayfield Settle Suit for $2 million

It's old news by now, but here are some things you might have missed regarding Portland attorney Brandon Mayfield and his attorney, Gerry Spence, agreeing to a settlement of $2 million in his civil case against the government for wrongfully holding him as a "material witness" for 14 days following the Madrid train bombings.

(1) Do You Fit The Sun's "Terrorist Profile:" , Glenn Greenwald has an excellent post describing the "typical breathless television report at the time" of Mayfield's arrest. The worst example is from the New York Sun in June, 2004. The Sun editorialized that:

"Mr. Mayfield 's political profile fits that of many disaffected, America-hating terrorists: he strongly opposes the Patriot Act, inveighs against American foreign policy related to Muslim countries, and is "particularly angered," according to his brother Kent, by close U.S. relations with Israel. Mr. Mayfield speculates that the Bush administration knew in advance about 9/11 but chose to let the attacks go ahead so as to justify going to war. And on his release from custody, he compared the U.S. federal government to Nazi Germany.

If those are the qualifications for a terrorist profile, we're in big trouble.

(2) FBI: "Not Enough Evidence": , (h/t sysprog in comments at Unclaimed Territory) here is an a probable reason for the $2 million settlement amount. According to an unclassified FBI email (link to original) from May 5, 2004, FBI agent Elizabeth Steele, emailed another agent (whose name was blacked out) that...

"I left you a voice mail this morning, but I figured this was a more secure way to leave the details for you.

There is a man living in the Portland area who has been tied to the Madrid bombings by a fingerprint found at the scene. His name is Brandon Mayfield, Muslim convert and attorney.

Earlier this week, an LA Times reporter in the Paris Bureau called the Legat in Spain, Ed Sanchez, to ask about information the reporter had heard that there was an American tied to the Madrid bombings. At that time, we don't think he had the name or location or the fact that the evidence is a fingerprint.

The problem is there is not enough evidence to arrest him on a criminal charge. There is a plan to arrest him as a material witness if and when he gets outed by the media.

Neither the National Press Office nor the Portland Division has received any media calls as of this morning, and *BLACKED OUT* thought is that, at some point; LA may receive a call from the Times trying to nail this down. If you do receive this call, we would ask that you confirm nothing and try to get out of them how much they have and whether or not publication is imminent. The powers that be are trying to hold off as long as possible on any arrest, but they want to make sure an arrest happens before anything hits the media.

To complicate things, the Legat just notified Portland that he received an inquiry from a Spanish publication about the same thing, and it had the details about the evidence that it said it planned to publish "soon".

Thanks for your help,
Beth Anne Steele / FBI Portland"

The AP article quoted Gerry Spence's take on this email: "The e-mail says that there wasn't enough evidence to arrest him on a criminal charge. I don't know if that makes your hair stand on end or what... Here the government is saying we don't have any grounds to hold him criminally, but if the media outs him then we are going to hold him as a material witness. It becomes a race to see if the government could arrest Mr. Mayfield before some member of the press outed him."

Yes, Mr. Spence, that does make my hair stand on end. My favorite part of the settlement, however, is not the amount but the fact that Mr. Mayfield (Mr. Spence) retained the right to contest the constitutionality of the PATRIOT Act. The patriotic defense lawyer (who beat a prosecutor named Giuliani in defending Imelda Marcos and who sucessfully defended Randy Weaver and who has never lost a criminal case) still gets a chance to strike down the unpatriotic, draconian provisions of the so called "Patriot Act." It's a good day to be a Warrior, in other words, and the case isn't over.

(3) "A Lot More Mayfields Out There?: , the LA Times reports that "a report on the Mayfield case in January, the Office of the Inspector General, the Justice Department's internal watchdog, said FBI experts had overlooked "important differences" between Mayfield's prints and those of the Algerian man, and had essentially ignored information from Spanish police that pointed to the other suspect."

The same article quotes Michael Cherry, president of Cherry Biometrics, an identification-technology company, stating that "misidentification problems could grow worse as the U.S. and other governments add more fingerprints to their databases." Mr. Cherry is quoted as saying,

"I really believe there are a lot more Mayfields out there," Cherry said. "We just don't know about these cases because the Spanish police don't always get to oversee them. We simply don't have an identification standard that fits with today's times."

According to the Bush administration, we don't have a Constitution that fits with today's times. Like the Geneva Conventions, they see it as quaint, and that attitude trickles down to FBI agents who play with people's liberty like toy soldiers in a spoiled child's game.

Just wait, however. The settlement amount will be used as a call for tort reform rather than as an admission of wrongdoing by a government who lied on an affidavit seeking a "sneak and peek" warrant. And the corporately owned and controlled media who reports it this shoddy, incomplete manner will be chastised as being "liberally biased."

Oh well, as one of Gerry's clients once said after hearing the words not guilty, and as Brandon Mayfield may well be saying now: "Fuck 'em. I'm free."


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