Patriot Games

Politics and ideology being what they are these days, it's quite possible-- likely even-- that the federal appeals courts or the United States Supreme Court will overrule U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken's important terror law ruling yesterday out of Oregon. But her opinion's shaky future shouldn't detract from its enlightening present.

Judge Aiken's summary of the curious case of Brandon Mayfield offers one of the best examples yet of how the executive branch has fought the legal war on terror while losing the confidence of the judiciary. The story of the Oregon attorney who, for a brief time, was falsely implicated in a bombing in Spain is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding why it's a terrible idea to strip away true judicial oversight in this time of terror.

Judge Aiken declared two Patriot Act provisions unconstitutional and raised important questions about the tainting of an earlier law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. There isn't much groundbreaking analysis here. More and more federal judges have raised doubts recently about the way the Patriot Act and other post-9/11 measures have limited constitutional protections. Indeed, a federal judge in New York earlier this month chipped away at the Patriot Act, too.

What's more important about the ruling is the way the judge recited (and to a large degree accepted) the facts alleged by Mayfield in support of his constitutional claims. He had not traveled outside of the country since 1994, we now know, but that didn't stop the feds from trying to match his fingerprints to one found in Madrid at the scene of the bombing. Spanish authorities immediately discounted the Mayfield fingerprint link, we now know, but that didn't stop U.S. authorities from going into a FISA court and pushing to have him "searched" without his knowledge or consent.

The way the feds purportedly handled his case-- gross exaggerations of culpability, racial profiling, consistent refusals to accept exculpatory fingerprint results, poorly-executed searches-- has unfortunately become a disconcerting pattern in these types of cases. We have seen it occur over and over again, from Moussaoui to Padilla to many lesser lights of the terror-law scene. And, while federal judges were willing in 2002 or 2003 or even 2004 to excuse some of these mistakes, it is clear that this don't-worry-be-happy time is over.

Due in large part to its zealous (and ultimately reckless) overreaching in cases like Mayfield's, the executive branch now has to work that much harder to convince legislators and judges that its current suspects are legitimate ones. I guess that's a good thing. It's too bad people like Mayfield had their lives ruined in the process.

By Andrew Cohen |  September 26, 2007; 8:58 PM ET
Previous: While Court Schedules, Texas Executes | Next: Bench Gone Wild: Seven Stories, Seven Choices

Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



What did he do, criticize the Decider?
Didn't the Cossacks also have people "searched"?
Mayfield is a well documented example but there are far more egregious cases.

Posted by: Singing Senator | September 27, 2007 10:00 AM

It is a shame that Aiken's upholding of the 4th amendment is likely to be overturned by right-wing courts up the line. Is not a respect for the law and the Constitution a tenet of conservatism? That the higher court or courts are likely to join in what Aiken calls "extra-constitutional" actions is profoundly disheartening.

Posted by: H R Coursen | September 27, 2007 10:38 AM

The current crop of "conservative" jurists are taking a wrecking ball to the foundation of American society, our Constitution. When they look back on this era, legal scholars will lament the abrogation of fundamental rights by all those Federalist Society judges who never met an authoritatian they didn't appease.

The few remaining federal judges like Aiken who have the courage to uphold the Constitution in the face of overt attack by this administration should be commended. My greatest hope is that after the disasterous Republican rule of the past 6 years we enjoy a long stretch of moderate, non-authoritarian administrations who are willing to return this Nation to a proper balance.

Posted by: Nellie | September 27, 2007 10:59 AM

What is this about racial profiling? The pictures I have seen of him show him to be Caucasian...

Posted by: ctownwoody | September 27, 2007 01:57 PM

Who's prosecuting these cases? Mike Nifong?

Posted by: mike s | September 27, 2007 02:28 PM

Bush operates on the basis that he 'knows' who deserves to be punished. One of the problems with this system of vigilante justice is that it is so irrational that the accused will never be believed by the accuser.

Bush lacks the ability to recognise that he has limitations and that he has failed many times. There is no introspection. He just can't do it. However, he believes that even if he cannot justify or explain every action that he takes that he is so wise and that his beliefs are so valid that, in any event, he does not need to abandon them.

He deludes himself and behaves irrationally and he is able to continue on his merry way because the GOP regards loyalty to one of their won as more important than principle. Even now there are many people who will back George to the hilt and that is enough support for him to be confident that he should continue on his merry way.

Many of the prisoners held in Guantanam Bay were guilty of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Although Bush has called them the worst of the worst it is Bush and his cronies who are the worst of the worst. He imprisons without trial and then prevents these people from being charged and from having access to their families and lawyers. In other words, he 'knows' that they are guilty. Let's put it another way. If they were able to have a fair trial and if many of them were released by the courts then Bush would be shown to be a bigger and more dangerous fool than what many of us think.

On the world stage, he and the USA are part of the worst of the worst and that is why they invaded Iraq. Bush appeared on CNN and said in an interview that the invasion was about oil and that America was entitled to secure its oil supplies because Iraq ahd allowed America to become dependent on them. Unfortunately, CNN pulled that interview and it was not shown again.

You can be sure that Bush will bomb Iran and will do his best to start WWIII. This man is driven by 'belief' and not evidence or reason. His 'beliefs' overrule everything else. He blames terrorists but surely he has done more damage, thousands of times over, than all terrorists combined. I would expect that if peace came to the ME and if the US stopped imposing its will on other nations that terrorism would diminish significantly.

Posted by: Robert James | September 27, 2007 05:21 PM

We cannot rely on the courts alone to reassert the constitution. We must advocate for a legislative solution that corrects the obvious excesses of the Patriot Act.

And the witchhunt of Mayfield has more in common with over-zealous prosecutors after brutal murders than it has with grand strategy from the Bush administration. That is why we need clear laws that guide the FBI and keep them from over-reaching when the lure of a sensational case suppresses normal caution.

Posted by: StillaScot | September 27, 2007 09:14 PM


Incidentally, WHAT is the deal with this Iran harrassment? They said the uranium enrichment isn't for a bomb; rest of the world will gang up because of their "suspicions" and concern? And Israel isn't of concern with its bomb, but Iran's claimed peaceful enrichment is? Why don't they hold Ahmadetc.. accountable for his statements--and he has said some unexplained things or seemingly at odds with facts-- rather than twisting his words opportunistically, or having the pundits on both sides interpret for him (is there some omniscient mindreading going on? why even pretend to listen)? They've said they are complying with the IAEA which should be the end of story (I thought that's what he meant by " the issue is closed" and calling coercive sanctions "illegal"), and it seems understandable to consider as they've done, the political coercion as bullying not worthy of a response . Is there more to this ?

Posted by: Gilad | September 28, 2007 11:37 AM

Agreed, Robert, only it's a whim of the US , no "will"; there's no moral objective there, so there can't really be a will.

Posted by: Stan | September 28, 2007 06:10 PM

Dear Mr. Cohen:

I almost always find myself in agreement with what you say, and in general this column is no different.

BUT -- part of your column today is based on a misunderstanding of simple civil procedure.

You stated:

>

The judge HAD to accept the facts that Mayfield alleged, because he was responding to a summary judgment motion, under Civil Rule 56. So of course the judge took his factual allegations as true.

Ross Taylor
Attorney at Law
Tacoma, Washington

Posted by: Ross Taylor | October 6, 2007 08:54 PM

Hello! Good Site! Thanks you! jqfxljzvdijt

Posted by: mekotojmwg | October 10, 2007 05:19 AM

best site! thanks!
pfrdorv.

Posted by: ugwsamibty | October 12, 2007 11:26 PM

2p6rm79vfewnmrwjh nce664i09p [URL=http://www.892922.com/485032.html] givbdjf6z67tkuv [/URL] 8f6krkt1

Posted by: d9l7dmzm4x | October 17, 2007 04:13 PM

1ljxwpyu3 v3wbe3aebdvn2ae [URL=http://www.789414.com/551214.html] 44s2musqrnr0tep [/URL] ohizf97iiwns

Posted by: hi9vy7m4r1 | October 17, 2007 04:13 PM

Looking at the cars on the Best New Convertible worksheet, the Chrysler Sebring struck me as, to use the vernacular, the "dog" of the bunch. ARTICLE...http://super-blog-here.com/

Posted by: pfoyxfekin | November 15, 2007 11:46 AM

hwluxmbv kwungd hxzmbp wbyiva vryjqa zhqcxp wxanvm

Posted by: vxjhagk gvap | November 20, 2007 03:59 PM

vbqr garf obtpqjx hyqwfrc chgnsd orzwgepkh gdnw [URL=http://www.hvtnedcyq.okwlet.com]trnmgq rdwt[/URL]

Posted by: zceai nhrb | November 20, 2007 04:00 PM

sumtoz mofu bemtknjq rnawypvcb kovrqthzc zpiwjoyas mutzc [URL]http://www.hexr.zkqtvc.com[/URL] uchmds xnpoita

Posted by: wadocr yhifuebl | November 20, 2007 04:00 PM

Posted by: sexy | November 22, 2007 06:33 PM

Posted by: cum | December 9, 2007 08:55 PM

Gs5326234dS cool site!!! [url=http://mardanows1.com]cool site!!![/url] http://mardanows2.com hj56ywhl

Posted by: mardanows | December 10, 2007 06:49 AM

Posted by: gay | December 11, 2007 04:35 PM

Posted by: gay | December 11, 2007 04:35 PM

Posted by: gay | December 11, 2007 04:36 PM

Posted by: gay | December 11, 2007 04:36 PM

Posted by: gay | December 11, 2007 04:36 PM

Posted by: gay | December 11, 2007 04:36 PM

Posted by: gay | December 11, 2007 04:37 PM

Posted by: free | December 11, 2007 06:19 PM

Posted by: free | December 11, 2007 06:20 PM

Posted by: free | December 11, 2007 06:20 PM

Posted by: free | December 11, 2007 06:20 PM

Posted by: free | December 11, 2007 06:20 PM

Posted by: gay | December 11, 2007 08:44 PM

Posted by: gay | December 11, 2007 08:44 PM

Posted by: gay | December 11, 2007 08:44 PM

Posted by: gay | December 11, 2007 08:44 PM

Posted by: gay | December 11, 2007 08:44 PM

Posted by: gay | December 11, 2007 08:44 PM

Posted by: gay | December 11, 2007 08:44 PM

Posted by: gay | December 11, 2007 08:44 PM

Posted by: gay | December 11, 2007 08:45 PM

Posted by: gay | December 11, 2007 11:02 PM

Posted by: gay | December 11, 2007 11:02 PM

Posted by: gay | December 11, 2007 11:03 PM

Posted by: gay | December 11, 2007 11:03 PM

Posted by: gay | December 11, 2007 11:03 PM

Posted by: gay | December 11, 2007 11:03 PM

Posted by: black | December 12, 2007 12:58 AM

Posted by: black | December 12, 2007 12:58 AM

Posted by: black | December 12, 2007 12:58 AM

Posted by: black | December 12, 2007 12:58 AM

Posted by: black | December 12, 2007 12:58 AM

Posted by: black | December 12, 2007 12:58 AM

Posted by: chat | December 12, 2007 03:26 AM

Posted by: chat | December 12, 2007 03:26 AM

Posted by: chat | December 12, 2007 03:26 AM

Posted by: chat | December 12, 2007 03:26 AM

Posted by: chat | December 12, 2007 03:26 AM

Posted by: chat | December 12, 2007 03:27 AM

Posted by: hardcore | December 12, 2007 05:49 AM

Posted by: hardcore | December 12, 2007 05:49 AM

Posted by: hardcore | December 12, 2007 05:49 AM

Posted by: hardcore | December 12, 2007 05:50 AM

Posted by: hardcore | December 12, 2007 05:50 AM

Posted by: hardcore | December 12, 2007 05:50 AM

Posted by: hardcore | December 12, 2007 05:50 AM

Posted by: hardcore | December 12, 2007 05:50 AM

Posted by: gay | December 12, 2007 08:49 AM

Posted by: gay | December 12, 2007 08:49 AM

Posted by: gay | December 12, 2007 08:49 AM

Posted by: gay | December 12, 2007 08:49 AM

Posted by: gay | December 12, 2007 11:43 AM

Posted by: gay | December 12, 2007 11:43 AM

Posted by: gay | December 12, 2007 11:43 AM

Posted by: gay | December 12, 2007 01:50 PM

Posted by: gay | December 12, 2007 01:50 PM

Posted by: gay | December 12, 2007 01:50 PM

Posted by: gay | December 12, 2007 01:50 PM

Posted by: gay | December 12, 2007 01:51 PM

Posted by: gay | December 12, 2007 01:51 PM

Posted by: gay | December 12, 2007 03:53 PM

Posted by: gay | December 12, 2007 03:53 PM

Posted by: gay | December 12, 2007 03:53 PM

Posted by: gay | December 12, 2007 03:53 PM

Posted by: gay | December 12, 2007 03:53 PM

Posted by: gay | December 12, 2007 03:53 PM

Posted by: gay | December 12, 2007 03:53 PM

Posted by: gay | December 12, 2007 03:53 PM

Posted by: gay | December 12, 2007 03:53 PM

Posted by: gay | December 12, 2007 06:18 PM

Posted by: gay | December 12, 2007 06:18 PM

Posted by: gay | December 12, 2007 06:19 PM

Posted by: gay | December 12, 2007 08:50 PM

Posted by: gay | December 12, 2007 08:50 PM

Posted by: gay | December 12, 2007 08:50 PM

Posted by: mature | December 12, 2007 11:27 PM

Posted by: mature | December 12, 2007 11:27 PM

Posted by: mature | December 12, 2007 11:27 PM

Posted by: mature | December 12, 2007 11:28 PM

Posted by: mature | December 12, 2007 11:28 PM

Posted by: mature | December 12, 2007 11:28 PM

Posted by: mature | December 13, 2007 02:15 AM

Posted by: mature | December 13, 2007 02:16 AM

Posted by: mature | December 13, 2007 02:16 AM

Posted by: mature | December 13, 2007 02:16 AM

Posted by: mature | December 13, 2007 02:16 AM

Posted by: mature | December 13, 2007 02:16 AM

Posted by: mature | December 13, 2007 02:16 AM

Posted by: mature | December 13, 2007 02:16 AM

Posted by: mature | December 13, 2007 02:16 AM

Posted by: gay | December 13, 2007 04:46 AM

Posted by: gay | December 13, 2007 04:47 AM

Posted by: gay | December 13, 2007 04:47 AM

Posted by: gay | December 13, 2007 04:47 AM

Posted by: gay | December 13, 2007 07:55 AM

Posted by: gay | December 13, 2007 07:55 AM

Posted by: gay | December 13, 2007 07:56 AM

Posted by: gay | December 13, 2007 07:56 AM

Posted by: gay | December 13, 2007 07:57 AM

Posted by: gay | December 13, 2007 07:57 AM

Posted by: gay | December 13, 2007 10:57 AM

Posted by: gay | December 13, 2007 10:58 AM

Posted by: gay | December 13, 2007 10:59 AM

Posted by: gay | December 13, 2007 10:59 AM

Posted by: gay | December 13, 2007 10:59 AM

Posted by: gay | December 13, 2007 11:00 AM

Posted by: live | December 13, 2007 01:31 PM

Posted by: live | December 13, 2007 01:31 PM

Posted by: live | December 13, 2007 01:32 PM

Posted by: live | December 13, 2007 01:32 PM

Posted by: porn | December 13, 2007 03:35 PM

Posted by: porn | December 13, 2007 03:35 PM

Posted by: porn | December 13, 2007 03:35 PM

Posted by: porn | December 13, 2007 03:35 PM

Posted by: porn | December 13, 2007 03:36 PM

Posted by: porn | December 13, 2007 05:37 PM

Posted by: porn | December 13, 2007 05:37 PM

Posted by: porn | December 13, 2007 05:38 PM

Posted by: porn | December 13, 2007 05:38 PM

Posted by: man | December 13, 2007 07:49 PM

Posted by: man | December 13, 2007 07:49 PM

Posted by: man | December 13, 2007 07:49 PM

Posted by: man | December 13, 2007 07:49 PM

Posted by: man | December 13, 2007 07:49 PM

Posted by: man | December 13, 2007 07:49 PM

Posted by: man | December 13, 2007 07:49 PM

Posted by: toon | December 13, 2007 10:10 PM

Posted by: toon | December 13, 2007 10:10 PM

Posted by: toon | December 13, 2007 10:10 PM

Posted by: toon | December 13, 2007 10:10 PM

Posted by: toon | December 13, 2007 10:10 PM

Posted by: celeb | December 14, 2007 12:19 AM

Posted by: celeb | December 14, 2007 12:19 AM

Posted by: celeb | December 14, 2007 12:19 AM

Posted by: celeb | December 14, 2007 12:19 AM

Posted by: celeb | December 14, 2007 12:19 AM

Posted by: celeb | December 14, 2007 12:19 AM

Posted by: celeb | December 14, 2007 12:19 AM

Posted by: disney | December 14, 2007 02:27 AM

Posted by: disney | December 14, 2007 02:27 AM

Posted by: disney | December 14, 2007 02:27 AM

Posted by: disney | December 14, 2007 02:28 AM

Posted by: pokemon | December 14, 2007 05:18 AM

Posted by: pokemon | December 14, 2007 05:18 AM

Posted by: pokemon | December 14, 2007 05:19 AM

Posted by: pokemon | December 14, 2007 05:19 AM

Posted by: pokemon | December 14, 2007 05:19 AM

Posted by: pokemon | December 14, 2007 05:19 AM

Posted by: pokemon | December 14, 2007 05:23 AM

Posted by: porn | December 14, 2007 08:01 AM

Posted by: porn | December 14, 2007 08:01 AM

Posted by: porn | December 14, 2007 08:01 AM

Posted by: porn | December 14, 2007 08:01 AM

Posted by: porn | December 14, 2007 08:01 AM

Posted by: porn | December 14, 2007 08:01 AM

Posted by: porn | December 14, 2007 08:01 AM

Posted by: porn | December 14, 2007 08:02 AM

Posted by: milf | December 14, 2007 11:02 AM

Posted by: milf | December 14, 2007 11:02 AM

Posted by: milf | December 14, 2007 11:02 AM

Posted by: milf | December 14, 2007 11:02 AM

Posted by: milf | December 14, 2007 11:03 AM

Posted by: milf | December 14, 2007 11:03 AM

Posted by: anal | December 14, 2007 01:43 PM

Posted by: anal | December 14, 2007 01:43 PM

Posted by: anal | December 14, 2007 01:43 PM

Posted by: anal | December 14, 2007 01:43 PM

Posted by: anal | December 14, 2007 01:44 PM

Posted by: anal | December 14, 2007 02:07 PM

Posted by: live | December 14, 2007 04:03 PM

Posted by: live | December 14, 2007 04:03 PM

Posted by: live | December 14, 2007 04:03 PM

Posted by: live | December 14, 2007 04:03 PM

Posted by: live | December 14, 2007 04:03 PM

Posted by: mature | December 14, 2007 05:15 PM

Posted by: mature | December 14, 2007 05:15 PM

Posted by: mature | December 14, 2007 05:15 PM

Posted by: mature | December 14, 2007 05:15 PM

Posted by: mature | December 14, 2007 05:15 PM

Posted by: mature | December 14, 2007 05:15 PM

Posted by: mature | December 14, 2007 05:16 PM

Posted by: mature | December 14, 2007 05:16 PM

Posted by: mature | December 14, 2007 06:10 PM

Posted by: mature | December 14, 2007 06:11 PM

Posted by: mature | December 14, 2007 06:11 PM

Posted by: mature | December 14, 2007 06:11 PM

Posted by: mature | December 14, 2007 06:11 PM

Posted by: mature | December 14, 2007 06:12 PM

Posted by: mature | December 14, 2007 06:12 PM

Posted by: mature | December 14, 2007 07:34 PM

Posted by: mature | December 14, 2007 07:35 PM

Posted by: mature | December 14, 2007 07:35 PM

Posted by: mature | December 14, 2007 07:35 PM

Posted by: mature | December 14, 2007 07:35 PM

Posted by: naruto | December 14, 2007 08:19 PM

Posted by: naruto | December 14, 2007 08:20 PM

Posted by: naruto | December 14, 2007 08:20 PM

Posted by: naruto | December 14, 2007 08:20 PM

Posted by: naruto | December 14, 2007 08:21 PM

Posted by: naruto | December 14, 2007 08:22 PM

Posted by: celebrity | December 14, 2007 08:32 PM

Posted by: celebrity | December 14, 2007 08:33 PM

Posted by: celebrity | December 14, 2007 08:34 PM

Posted by: celebrity | December 14, 2007 08:34 PM

Posted by: beta | December 14, 2007 08:39 PM

Posted by: beta | December 14, 2007 08:39 PM

Posted by: porn | December 14, 2007 08:43 PM

Posted by: porn | December 14, 2007 08:43 PM

Posted by: porn | December 14, 2007 08:43 PM

Posted by: adult | December 17, 2007 10:40 AM

Posted by: adult | December 17, 2007 11:28 AM

Posted by: amateur | December 17, 2007 12:19 PM

Posted by: free | December 17, 2007 01:01 PM

Posted by: gay | December 17, 2007 01:42 PM

Posted by: bdsm | December 17, 2007 02:21 PM

Posted by: gay | December 17, 2007 03:16 PM

Posted by: boy | December 17, 2007 03:56 PM

Posted by: gay | December 17, 2007 04:36 PM

Posted by: gay | December 17, 2007 05:19 PM

Posted by: gay | December 17, 2007 06:03 PM

Posted by: gay | December 17, 2007 06:49 PM

Posted by: big | December 17, 2007 07:34 PM

Posted by: big | December 17, 2007 07:34 PM

Posted by: big | December 17, 2007 07:34 PM

Posted by: big | December 17, 2007 07:34 PM

Posted by: big | December 17, 2007 07:34 PM

Posted by: big | December 17, 2007 07:34 PM

Posted by: big | December 17, 2007 07:34 PM

Posted by: gay | December 17, 2007 08:34 PM

Posted by: gay | December 17, 2007 09:20 PM

Posted by: amateur | December 17, 2007 10:08 PM

Posted by: gay | December 17, 2007 11:16 PM

Posted by: gay | December 18, 2007 12:18 AM

Posted by: gay | December 18, 2007 01:04 AM

Posted by: mature | December 18, 2007 01:42 AM

Posted by: free | December 18, 2007 02:25 AM

Posted by: gay | December 18, 2007 02:55 AM

Posted by: gay | December 18, 2007 02:55 AM

Posted by: gay | December 18, 2007 02:55 AM

Posted by: young | December 18, 2007 03:03 AM

Posted by: young | December 18, 2007 03:03 AM

Posted by: gay | December 18, 2007 03:04 AM

Posted by: gay | December 18, 2007 03:04 AM

Posted by: gay | December 18, 2007 03:04 AM

Posted by: 8th | December 18, 2007 03:05 AM

Posted by: lesbian | December 18, 2007 03:06 AM

Posted by: lesbian | December 18, 2007 03:06 AM

Posted by: lesbian | December 18, 2007 03:06 AM

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




 
 

© 2007 The Washington Post Company