Wednesday, May 26, 2004

It's the land of the brave and the home of the free -- unless you're a Muslim, apparently. This story out of our state of Oregon is just dumbfounding to me, and another harrowing sign that Big Brother is running the shop in D.C. these days:

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The FBI admitted its mistake in linking the fingerprint of a suburban attorney to a series of deadly train bombings in Spain Monday, and issued a rare written apology for arresting Brandon Mayfield under a material witness warrant.
In a written statement the agency said: “The FBI apologizes to Mr. Mayfield and his family for the hardship that this matter has caused.”
Robert Jordan, the FBI agent in charge in Oregon, spoke just hours after a judge dismissed the case against Mayfield, the 37-year-old lawyer from the Portland suburb of Aloha who had been held as a “material witness” since May 6 in the Madrid bombing cases, which killed 191 people and injured about 2,000 others.
Mayfield, a former Army lieutenant, was released from custody last week. But he was not altogether cleared of suspicion; the government said he remained a material witness and put restrictions on his movements.
Those restrictions were lifted Monday.
Mayfield’s attorney, Public Defender Steven Wax, said the FBI had told him the error was the first ever by the agency’s fingerprint analysis group.
Jordan said that the FBI’s initial determination that Brandon Mayfield’s fingerprint was on a bag of detonators found near the Madrid train station was “based on an image of substandard quality.”
Court documents released Monday suggested the mistake first sprang from an error by the FBI’s supercomputer for matching fingerprints, the Automated Fingerprint Identification System.

Full story can be found here. It's scary, is what it is, and I don't care if you're "right wing" or "left wing" you have to be worried about tactics like this that can have a man locked up for two weeks, have his home searched without being told, his career and reputation smeared, and all this on the basis of one fingerprint and, quite possibly, because he's a Muslim. Watch your back.

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