Is he innocent?

According to today’s New York Times, Brandon Mayfield, the American convert to Islam [I’m painfully aware that nationality has nothing to do with religion, but that’s the way it’s being reported], who was detained yesterday for involvement in the Madrid train bombings of March 11, may not in fact be involved.

The relevant graf is:

The law enforcement officials said they were afraid that Mr. Mayfield, who is originally from Kansas, might become a fugitive if he knew he was under suspicion. So monitoring that was just getting started was abruptly halted. Mr. Mayfield was arrested before investigators had fully examined his phone records, before they knew if he had ever met with any of the bombing suspects, before they knew if he had ever traveled to Spain or elsewhere overseas. His relatives said he had not been out of the United States for 10 years.

Just so you know, Mayfield is a former Army lieutenant. This case is starting to sound familiar. That story had a somewhat ambiguous ending.

Please note, I’ve stopped asking if people are guilty. As SAM I AM has noted, this country is in upside-down mode. Guilty until proven innocent.

3 thoughts on “Is he innocent?

  1. Your suggestion that Mayfield’s case is similar to Capt Yee is premature. Mayfield was arrested based on evidence provided by the Spanish. Mayfield’s fingerprints matched a set of prints lifted by the Spanish from a bag containing detonators of the type used in the Madrid bombing. This is called “probable cause” where I I come from, and many people are arrested every day on slimmer evidence than fingerprints. In fact, many people are convicted everyday because of fingerprints, pretty good evidence in itself. In this case, are fingerprints enough to convict Mayfield? Probably not. Is it enough to arrest him pending further investigation? You bet your ass it is.
    Now consider the alternative. Spanish investigators pull some prints. They don’t find a match among their suspects or in any database that they have. They ask the US for help. US federal authorities, seeing an opportunity to screw another Muslim, then do an exhaustive search until they find a Muslim whose prints are a close match. Bingo! they find one. On to the next frameup.
    Not likely in my opinion.

  2. A fair enough point. However, means, motive and opportunity have not been established. If you recall as well, Yee was arrested after having been found in possession of classified material, which is pretty damning evidence. I agree that arrests and convictions have been made on slimmer evidence. However, the bar is getting progressively lower for detentions and we seem to be holding people longer on material witness warrants. Jose Padilla and James Yee are two high-profile cases where the evidence has not borne out the initial allegations. I’m not arguing conspiracy, I’m arguing abuse of process.
    In this highly-charged political atmosphere, and the 2000 Supreme Court election ruling notwithstanding, the judiciary is perceived as the last bulwark in defending the idea of America. I don’t want us to lose faith in the legal system; we are a nation of laws.

  3. I should point out that my information is from public sources. You’re correct that there appears to be no evidence of means or opportunity presented so far (motive is less of a concern — it’s obvious what the motive is of any participant in that mass murder in Madrid). From what I’ve read, the FBI had just begun surveillance on Mayfield when the decision was made to arrest. It’s not uncommon that an arrest will be made, when leaks to the press are imminent, without all our ducks in line (sometimes the press holds stories on law enforcement request, sometimes they don’t). To be sure, any good prosecutor’s preference is to get the good stuff before an arrest — better to turn a defendant if needed, push for a plea, etc.
    I agree, however, that the onus is on the government to bring a person held on a material witness warrant to bring that witness before a grand jury promptly. The press reports that Mayfield is scheduled to be brought before the grand jury next week. What will be interesting is whether he will testify (not to mention what he actually says) or assert his rights against self-incrimination. Although we should never find out what he says given grand jury secrecy laws, leaks are leaks and we’ll probably know soon enough the gist of his testimony. Then the government has to make a choice, whether to continue holding him and justifying that detention, charging Mayfield, or letting him go.
    Which brings me to Jose Padilla and James Yee. First, I’ll not pretend that I’m not contemptuous of Padilla. Like Richard Reid, Padilla is a third-rate loser if there ever were one. But getting to the issue of due process for Padilla, he’s been classified as an enemy combatant and there’s a dearth of information concerning the evidence against him. As an enemy combatant, Padilla is out of the criminal justice system, and as such, he’s not a good example when discussing due process for Mayfield. The question of holding a US citizen not captured on the battlefield as enemy combatant (in contrast to that de jure, but still faux-American, Yassir Hamdi) is a different question altogether from what I’m debating here.
    Now to Capt Yee. First, I agree that Yee’s case was bulloxed up from the beginning although I don’t believe it was due to anti-Muslim bias. Heightened suspicion of Muslims probably, but not animus as I define it. After all, to paraphrase Bill Mahr, it’s not little Cindy Loo and her grandmother from Iowa that want to inflict a painful chastisement on the “kuffar,” it’s some Muslims that want to do that. I myself have heighted suspicions when I attend juma’ (much less frequently now that the Salafist approach is firmly, and probably permanently, established as the preeminent practice of Islam in masjids in the US). What disturbe me as much as the treatment afforded Yee was the exploitative way Muslim organizations handled it for their interests which aren’t always yours or mine. But back to Yee.
    Yee is/was a military officer and I’m sure that to some degree different rules apply than the standard criminal process. Yee was charged with mishandling classified documents, not with merely possessing them. In Yee’s case, there was a lot of grey area with respect to whether the documents were actually classified, and whether he actually mishandled them. Much more interpretation of the law, and of Yee’s conduct. Furthermore, the Army made it worse by bringing additional charges of sexual misconduct (which wouldn’t even be criminal outside of the military) when their espionage case collapsed (or more likely, never built in the first place).
    Although Yee’s case is a closer match to Mayfield, Yee’s case is not sufficient for me to conclude that the actions, to date, against Mayfield are not appropriate.
    So if not Padilla or Yee, is Mayfield’s case sua sponte? Maybe not if we also look at the charges and subsequent guilty plea by Mike Hawash, or Jeffrey Battle and his friends, or the paintballers in Virginia, or the Lackawanna crowd of dimwits, at best, or would-be jihadis, at worst. You’re right to keep the government on its toes — defense lawyers keep the system honest. You’re also right to assume that Mayfield is innocent, but let’s not tie the government’s hands in its investigation. All are presumed innocent, but many are later proven guilty.
    Finally, I apologize for the language in my first post. It’s not good adab, especially on a site that has so much with which I agree. Not an easy thing considering that other non-radical Muslim websites think that our only choices are an intolerant religiosity or the warmed-over 1970s radicalism of a Shahid Alam or a Farid Esaak.

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