The Justice Department’s internal watchdog on Friday faulted the FBI for sloppy work in mistakenly linking an Oregon lawyer and Muslim convert to the 2004 Madrid train bombings, but said the government did not misuse the anti-terror Patriot Act against him.
FBI fingerprint experts also probably were more resistant to re-examining their conclusion that Brandon Mayfield’s fingerprint matched one found on a bag containing detonators like those used in the attacks in Spain because of his religion, Inspector General Glenn Fine said in the publicly released executive summary of a 273-page report that otherwise remains classified.
But he rejected assertions by Mayfield and others that Mayfield’s arrest in 2004 was based on abuses of the Patriot Act. “We did not find any evidence that the FBI misused any of the provisions of the Patriot Act in conducting its investigation of Mayfield,” Fine said.
Mayfield’s adherence to Islam also played no role in the initial, erroneous determination that there was a fingerprint match, Fine said, noting that the experts did not know Mayfield’s religion, his marriage to an Egyptian immigrant or his legal representation of other Muslims.
Mayfield was arrested in May 2004 on a material witness warrant. He was released a few weeks later after the FBI admitted it had made a mistake and that the fingerprint did not match Mayfield’s.
The FBI has maintained the error was due to the low resolution of the print. Fine disagreed, saying the examiners were overconfident, despite differences between Mayfield’s prints and the one on the bag.
Mayfield is suing the government, alleging that he was singled out because of his Muslim faith.