Thursday, November 30, 2006

FBI pays out $2 m in false terror arrest

Earlier today I was on a web site run by some young Christianist. He was attacking individuals who support limited government and Constitutional freedoms as friends of terrorists. Like a good authoritarian he wanted the President to have powers not granted by the Constitution to simply declare an individual a “terrorists” and then be able to strip them of Constitutional freedoms. Evidence is not needed just the all-power wisdom of Dubya the Seer.

Two years ago the Feds were convinced that attorney Brandon Mayfield was a terrorist. They claimed to have had evidence linking him to the 2004 Madrid terror attack that killed 191 people. So the feds broke into his home and did secret searches as approved by a secret federal court. They listened in on his phone conversations -- a serious violation of not only Mayfield’s right but those of his clients.

The government claimed they had his fingerprints linking him to the crime. They didn’t. He was picked up by the government and held with limited access to his family and legal representative. First he was held under a false name and then he was later transferred and his location kept secret.

Spanish authorities told the FBI they were pursuing other suspects. Mayfield remained in jail. When Spain identified the fingerprints as belonging to an Algerian and not to Mayfield he was quickly released. He sued the federal government and now the Justice (sic) Department has agreed to pay him $2 million in damages and has formally apologized for their “error”.

So they pay out $2 million. Good for Mayfield but it won’t change a thing. The pay out comes out of the pockets of the taxpayers not out of the pockets of the bureaucrats who committed this injustice or out of the pocket of the politicians that gave them this power. King George won’t lose any sleep over this harassment and arrest of yet another innocent man nor will it cost him a dime.

Since I recommended one law reform in the horrible murder of Kathryn Johnston by the lying police officers in Atlanta here is another suggestion. When the government violates the rights of an individual and is required to pay out damages to that individual all bureaucrats in charge of the case and their direct superiors should pay out a minimum of 50% of their annual salary toward those damages. And this penalty ought to be assessed against each of them as far up as necessary so the entire damages come from the guilty parties and not from the taxpayers.

Unless this happens we are in the perverse situation of having the feds attack the rights of taxpayers and then robbing taxpayers of additional money in order to pay for the damage they caused. As long as the taxpayers, and not the bureaucrats themselves, are liable for the harm the bureaucrats have no incentive to change their behaviour and actually obey the Constitution.