The U.S. government agreed yesterday to pay $2 million to settle a lawsuit filed by an Oregon lawyer who was arrested and jailed for two weeks in 2004 after the FBI bungled a fingerprint match and mistakenly linked him to a terrorist attack in Spain.
Under the terms of the settlement filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Portland, the government also issued an unusual apology to Brandon Mayfield for the "suffering" caused by his wrongful arrest and imprisonment. It acknowledged that the ordeal was "deeply upsetting" to Mayfield and his family.
Mayfield will be able to continue pursuing his legal challenge to the constitutionality of the USA Patriot Act anti-terrorism law, which was used to obtain his personal records while he was under investigation.
The payment is a clear embarrassment for the FBI, which arrested Mayfield as a material witness in May 2004. FBI examiners had erroneously linked him to a partial fingerprint on a bag of detonators found after terrorists bombed commuter trains in Madrid in March, killing 191 people. The bureau compounded its error by stridently resisting the conclusions of the Spanish National Police, which notified the FBI three weeks before Mayfield was arrested that the fingerprint did not belong to him.
Now wait a minute. All people arrested as terrorists are guilty, right? They have to be. That's why we can torture them to get them to confess to being terrorists. I mean, if not every person detained for terrorism is really a terrorist, then we might accidentally torture an innocent person...and worse, an innocent person might confess to get them to stop hurting him.
So Mayfield must have been guilty, because he was arrested.
But if the FBI paid him this settlement, then the FBI made a mistake. But the anti-terrorist agents of the FBI can't make a mistake because if they make mistakes...then..innocent people......might...