Did the FBI Leave It to Beaver in the Mayfield Case?

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In a case that shows quite succinctly that giving up our civil liberties does not make us safer, the FBI has acknowledged that it falsely arrested Oregon lawyer Brandon Mayfield in conjunction with the 2004 Madrid bombings.

Mayfield, a convert to Islam who has represented terror suspects, became a suspect himself (technically, a material witness) when a partial fingerprint lifted from a bag of detonators was wrongly identified as his. Get this: Three weeks before Mayfield was arrested, Spanish authorities had told the FBI the prints weren’t his. But the FBI arrogantly ignored their advice. (Speaking of overconfident disregard of expert advice, see Leigh and Jonathan’s posts below.)

The government then jailed Mayfield (he claims he was mistreated in jail), tapped his phone, secretly searched his home without a warrant, and plundered his personal information.

A March report [PDF] by the Justice Department Inspector General found that Patriot Act provisions allowed the FBI to share the results of its fishing expedition with law enforcement and intelligence agents, “amplify[ying] the consequences” for Mayfield of the FBI’s amateur mistake.

Now that Mayfield has been cleared, the FBI has apologized and agreed to pay a $2 million settlement. It has also agreed to destroy the information it collected about him. Too bad they can’t undo the damage already done.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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