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The Brandon Mayfield case

"To underscore the secrecy now surrounding the Mayfield case, U.S. Marshal Dennis Merrill on Wednesday declined to even comment on why he couldn't answer questions about where Mayfield is being held."
That's from Saturday's Oregonian. The government won't answer questions about why it won't answer questions about the Brandon Mayfield case. But the Oregonian article answers some questions about federal grand juries and the material witness statute.

First of all, getting mad at the FBI and the government is like getting mad at a computer. A computer that abducts you and won't tell you why and won't tell anyone where you are.

In this case though, there is a personal element. Brandon Mayfield helped Jeffrey Battle with some legal problems in the past. Battle was the member of the "Portland Seven" who gave the judge and federal prosecutor the most trouble, because he wouldn't cooperate and admit that he's a bad guy. He was convicted of "conspiracy to wage war" against the U.S. in Afghanistan. He never actually made it to Afghanistan, but if he had he might have committed a crime, according to the prosecutor.

The judge, Robert Jones (same judge in the Mayfield case) and the US attorney, Charles Gorder, repeatedly called Battle a traitor, and the judge said that he was an insult to Islam.

If the computer picked up Mayfield because of his involvement with Jeffrey Battle, then it shows that the computer gets mad sometimes.

The Oregonian article explains why there is so much secrecy involving the Mayfield case, which is considered a "terrorism" case.

"The secrecy is meant to cover material witnesses ordered before the grand jury 'so that if the investigation does not lead to a public charge, their name is not unfairly associated with any kind of suspicion.'"

"The secrecy is also meant to protect witnesses. 'If you're investigating an organized crime mobster, you don't want that person to know the names of the witnesses you're putting in the grand jury because it could be a risk to the material witness,' Robinson said."

On the first point the government failed, so thats why MORE secrecy is needed to make sure NOTHING ELSE about the case becomes known to us.

On the second point, the argument is that the government is protecting Brandon Mayfield from al-Qaeda, who he might be compelled to testify against. That's assuming he knows anything about al-Qaeda, which the government thinks he does because of a partial fingerprint that kind of resembles his, found in a country he's never been to. In any case, if al-Qaeda finds out that Mayfield is under investigation for associating with them, they might gun him down in front of his favorite restaurant, just like in the old Mafia movies. That's why super-secrecy is needed, to keep al-Qaeda off Mayfield's back.

Ultimately, it's a test of how "prepared" we all are for the "next one." The "global" "war" against "terror" begins in our backyard. It begins with you and me and our neighbors, or the people we thought were our neighbors. Take a look in the mirror. Is that al-Qaeda looking back at you?

Sometimes the computer is wrong, but in principle it is always right, and Brandon Mayfield will be released only after acknowledging that.