US settles in wrongful arrest

From CNN.com:

An Oregon lawyer wrongly arrested and accused of involvement in the 2004 Madrid train bombings has settled a lawsuit against the U.S. government for $2 million, attorneys told CNN on Wednesday.

Brandon Mayfield was arrested in Portland, Oregon, on a material witness warrant in May 2004, less than two months after the train bombings.

The settlement was confirmed by both sides. It was reached Tuesday during a conference with a federal judge, attorneys said.

The FBI identified Mayfield’s fingerprint on a blue plastic bag containing detonators found in a van used by the bombers. However, the FBI’s fingerprint identification was wrong and Mayfield was released several days later.

Mayfield and his family later sued the U.S. government for damages. The Portland-area attorney contended that he was a victim of profiling because he is a Muslim convert. more

Sadr may be the key in Iraq

From Newsweek:

One way to understand Moqtada al-Sadr is to think of him as a young Mafia don. He aims for respectability, and is willing to kill for it. Yet the extent of his power isn’t obvious to the untrained eye. He has no standing army or police force, and the Mahdi Army gunmen he employs have no tanks or aircraft. You could mistake him—at your peril—for a common thug or gang leader. And if he or his people were to kill you for your ignorance, he wouldn’t claim credit. But the message would be clear to those who understand the brutal language of the Iraqi Street.

More than anyone, Sadr personifies the dilemma Washington faces: If American troops leave Iraq quickly, militia leaders like Sadr will be unleashed as never before, and full-scale civil war could follow. But the longer the American occupation lasts, the less popular America gets—and the more popular Sadr and his ilk become.

To many, Sadr’s brand of Shiite politics—homegrown, populist and ruthless—seems a natural outgrowth of the ruin left in Saddam Hussein’s wake, and a powerful part of what Iraq has become. The United Nations calculates that an unprecedented 3,709 Iraqi civilians were killed in October. Death squads connected to the Mahdi Army, as well as to other Shia and Sunni groups, capture and execute civilians in cold blood, sometimes dragging them out of hospitals or government ministries.  more