Imagine for a moment, that you’re an American citizen, going about your life. Going to work, going to church, taking the kids to school – doing all the stuff that you do on a daily basis. Then a massive shit storm rains down on your head out of nowhere. You folks want to know why I’m against the Patriot Act – well, here it is.
When I first started shouting about “Police State” I was called an alarmist of the worst order. What happens in a police state? Well, the police come for you for some unknown reason and take you away, never to be seen again. Which is exactly what happened to Bradon Mayfield.
Brandon Mayfield came home from work on March 11, 2004 and watched the news. Unfortunately, that was the day that terrorists set of bombs on a commuter train in Madrid, Spain killing 191 people and wounding approximate 2000 more. It was a horrible thing, especially to a former Army officer (with, I should add an honorable discharge). Little did he know that this is the very shit storm that is about to hit him.
Some latent prints were retrieved from the explosive device that blew up the train and were then sent to Interpol. The FBI got hold of them from Interpol and immediately started trying to match them. As an Army officer, Brandon’s prints were on file. This is where the shit storm gets interesting. When no direct match could be made by the FBI, they widened the search criteria looking for prints that were similar.
Let me digress for a moment here, the whole reason that finger prints are allowed is because they are unique. Similar does not mean the same. I might look a bit like someone who robbed a bank, but that doesn’t make me a bank robber. Having finger prints that are similar to a terrorist’s doesn’t make you a terrorist. What they got was 20 “possible” matches. Using the infamous Letters of National Security, they launched extensive background checks against all 20 of these people.
These are 20 people like you and me and suddenly the FBI is prying into their bank records, their medical records, their employment records, any and every aspect of their lives. Things that would normally be private get hauled out for inspection. The FBI is tapping their phones, reading their mail, bugging their houses, following them as they go about their daily lives. What must your boss think of you if the FBI comes around asking questions about you, your habits, etc.?
Brandon Mayfield’s name quickly rose to the top of the list simply because he’s Muslim. Based on this, and apparently this alone, the FBI & DOJ fabricated information in order to justify more searches and more surveillance. Using the Letters of National Security, they wiretapped his phones, bugged his house, and searched his house several times. Searches that were so badly conducted as to terrorize the entire Mayfield family for several months. They assumed that they were the victims of a repeat burglar.
When the FBI finally got around to sending his fingerprints to the Spanish authorities, after insisting that they had a postive match, the Spanish authorities refused to agree that Brandon’s prints were match. The Spanish authorities actually informed the FBI that they had suspects in the bombings and that they were Moroccan immigrants who had no known ties to anyone in the USA.
The FBI complete disregarded all of the information from the Spanish authorities, and proceeded to terrorize Brandon and his family further. Finally on May 19, 2004, the whole thing got even uglier. Based on outright lies concocted by the FBI and DOJ in sworn statements, warrants were issued. Brandon Mayfield’s law office was searched and a great deal of his personal property was seized. He was arrested and taken away. His home was searched and more of his things were taken. The seizure of his property from his OWN HOME was so thorough that they even took his children’s home work. His children’s school was searched, teachers questioned. His whole family had their lives turned upside down.
The FBI refused to tell the family where he was being held or what he was being held for. His family found out by watching the local news station. It seems that while the FBI and DOJ can’t inform the family, they can certainly inform the local media and smear an innocent man’s name, ruining his reputation. On May 19, 2004 the Spanish authorities informed the FBI that they had a positive match for the fingerprint and that it was an Algerian national named Ouhane Daoud who they had in custody. Still refusing to back down and release an innocent man, they continued to hold him until the international press broke the story the next day.
Now that Brandon is a free man again, he wants all the things that they took from his office and home back. He also wants to make sure that they can’t do this to anyone else. He’s suing the US Government over the constitutionality of the Patriot Act. Today, in a stunning win for democracy, Judge Ann Aiken ruled that most the provisions that I’ve found to be disturbing are indeed unconstitutional. Today is a good day for democracy.