While some people are cheering the latest news out of Cleveland, the fact remains that the FBI has failed to concoct terorrist plots in more than 75 metropolitan areas.
The comment from the Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit spurred my memory on the Justice Department’s anti-terror PR coup in Oregon. Here’s my riff on that case from the December 2009 issue of Freedom Daily:
One of the best-known material-witness cases involved Brandon Mayfield, an Oregon lawyer, whom the FBI arrested in 2004 for his alleged involvement in the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 and left 2,000 wounded. A U.S. counterterrorism official told Newsweek that Mayfield’s fingerprint was an “absolutely incontrovertible match” to a copy of the fingerprint found on a bag of bomb detonators near the scene of the Madrid attack. News of Mayfield’s arrest provided alarming evidence that Americans were involved in international conspiracies to slaughter civilians around the globe, and he was informed that he could face the death penalty for his crimes.
Employing USA PATRIOT Act powers, the feds, prior to the arrest, conducted secret searches of Mayfield’s home and tapped his phone and email. After the arrest, they froze his bank accounts. The FBI’s arrest affidavit revealed that its agents had “observed Mayfield drive to the Bilal Mosque located at 415 160th Ave., Beaverton, Oregon, on several different occasions.” Another incriminating detail in the arrest warrant: he had advertised his legal service in the Muslim Yellow Pages. (Mayfield, a former Army lieutenant, converted to Islam and has an Egyptian wife.) In early April, the Spanish police described Mayfield “as a U.S. military veteran who was already under investigation by U.S. authorities for alleged ties to Islamic terrorism,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
Yet the key to the case — the fingerprint — was as bogus as a politician’s campaign promise. The FBI quickly claimed to have achieved a match on the partial print, but, on April 13, Spanish government officials warned the FBI that their experts were “conclusively negative” that Mayfield’s print matched the print on the bomb detonator bag.
Mayfield was arrested as a “material witness,” thereby permitting the feds to hold him as long as they pleased without charging him with a specific crime. After he was arrested, FBI agents raided his home and office and carted off boxes of his papers and his family’s belongings. Among the items seized were “miscellaneous Spanish documents,” according to an FBI statement to the federal court. These supposedly incriminating papers turned out to be the Spanish homework of Mayfield’s son. Perhaps elite FBI investigators suspected that “Hola, Paco. Como estas?” was a secret code.
Though the FBI never possessed anything on Mayfield aside from a misidentified fingerprint, it did not hesitate to paint him in sinister colors. The FBI informed a federal judge, “It is believed that Mayfield may have traveled under a false or fictitious name.” But Mayfield, whose passport expired the previous year, insisted he had not left the country. The FBI apparently never bothered to check whether he had been absent from the United States before making one of the most high-profile terrorism arrests of the year.
The FBI’s evidence was a heap of unsubstantiated hokum and ludicrous inferences. But the Justice Department refused to release Mayfield until after the Spanish government announced that they had found a clean match to the fingerprints on the bomb-detonator bag.