The Mayfields of Oregon were subjected to FBI harassment thanks to the Patriot Act. (Photo by The Oregonian)

The FBI admitted, almost six years ago now, that they messed up when they came after Brandon Mayfield. They even apologized for insisting he had something to do with the terrorist bombing in Madrid that killed 191 and injured thousands.

Boy, were they barking up the wrong tree. Brandon Mayfield is a patriot, an Army veteran, and a lawyer who makes a point of representing indigent defendants. The only thing Mayfield ever did "wrong" was convert to the Muslim religion. And that, he says, is exactly why the FBI convinced themselves that was HIS fingerprint found at the Madrid bomb site, even when Spanish authorities told them they were wrong.

The FBI used the Patriot Act to throw Mayfield in jail, and "sneak and peek" and electronically eavesdrop on the Mayfield family.

They leaked reports to the media that Mayfield was responsible for the Madrid bombing and locked him up for two weeks as a "material witness." They thoroughly searched Mayfield’s property: "What are these Spanish documents?!" The answer was, "That’s my son’s homework from Spanish class."

A likely story.

Eventually Mayfield and his family settled with the FBI. They accepted $2 million and an apology, but Mayfield insisted on retaining the right to challenge the constitutionality of the Patriot Act. He filed that suit immediately, and a U.S. District Judge ruled in the Mayfields’ favor in 2007. Of course the Bush administration appealed.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled December 10 that Mayfield has no standing to pursue the suit because “his injuries already have been substantially redressed by the settlement agreement, and a declaratory judgment would not likely impact him or his family.”

Illegal search and seizure, schmillegal schmearch and schmeizure, says the court.

Mayfield’s lawyer, Elden Rosenthal, is not pleased. "We strongly disagree with the appeal court’s decision," he told the Oregonian. "The law is not always just, the courts are not always right. What is right here is that American citizens are entitled to protection from an oppressive government. What is wrong here is that the right was not provided."

The Mayfield family still has the option of appealing their case to the Supreme Court, but they haven’t made that decision yet. They’re still reeling from this week’s decision by the Court of Appeals.

Brandon Mayfield committed the egregious sin of being a Muslim. His son compounded this vicious terrorist act by studying Spanish in school. It was Mayfield’s hope that through his lawsuit he could protect other Americans from suffering the persecution his family endured. But in the wake of the circuit court’s decision, the Patriot Act lives on – due to a technicality.

Watch our 2005 video about the Brandon Mayfield case.