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Richard A. Erfert
Posted on Monday, June 14, 2004 - 11:26 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Has anyone seen the Algerian National's fingerprints or verified the Spanish identification? I would like to see the identification published if that is possible.
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Posted on Friday, June 04, 2004 - 02:05 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The Madrid Bombing fingerprint error images are here.
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Posted on Monday, May 24, 2004 - 10:41 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Per US District Court, Oregon on 24 May 04:
Due to the misidentification by the FBI of a fingerprint:

The court orders the material witness proceeding dismissed.

The court orders all property seized to be returned to the material witness and copies of any property retained by the Government destroyed.

The court's protective order is completely rescinded. All relevant pleadings previously filed are unsealed.

The court orders all previously sealed minute orders be unsealed.

The court orders the supervision of the material witness by Pretrial Services cancelled.

Copies of the unsealed minute orders are available at the Clerk's office on the 7th floor in the Hatfield Courthouse.

The court will issue no further comment.

- entered 5/24/2004 11:45am

25 May 04 update by Webservant (excerpted from AP news):

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Offering a rare public apology, the FBI admitted mistakenly linking an American lawyer's fingerprint to one found near the scene of a terrorist bombing in Spain, a blunder that led to his imprisonment for two weeks.

The apology Monday came hours after a judge dismissed the case against Brandon Mayfield, who had been held as a material witness in the Madrid bombings case, which killed 191 people and injured about 2,000 others.

...``The FBI apologizes to Mr. Mayfield and his family for the hardships that this matter has caused,'' the bureau said in a statement. The agency also said it would review its practices on fingerprint analyses.

...The case began when FBI fingerprint examiners in Quantico, Va., searched for possible matches to a digital image of a fingerprint found on a bag of detonators the day of the Spanish bombings on March 11.

The system returned 15 possible matches, including prints belonging to Mayfield, on file from a 1984 burglary arrest in Wichita, Kan., when Mayfield was a teenager.

Three separate FBI examiners narrowed the identification to Mayfield, according to Robert Jordan, the FBI agent in charge of Oregon. A court-appointed fingerprint expert agreed.

The FBI maintained their certainty even as Spanish authorities said by mid-April that the original image of the fingerprint taken directly from the bag did not match Mayfield's, Wax said.

Last week, Spanish authorities said the fingerprints of an Algerian man were on the bag. Jordan said FBI examiners flew to Spain, viewed the original print pattern of the fingerprint on paper, and agreed that it was not Mayfield's.

Excerpted from Seattle Times online 25 May 04:

Portland's FBI Special Agent in Charge, Robert Jordan, said the error, based on a "substandard" copy of the prints, will prompt the agency to review its guidelines for making identifications and ask an international panel of experts to analyze what went wrong.

..."Why was a substandard image used to make a positive identification?" asked fingerprint expert Pat Wertheim, based in Arizona. "I'm sure the FBI will be doing a lot of soul-searching. A lot of us in the fingerprint profession will be waiting for the answer so that we can adopt measures to prevent a repeat of this tragic arrest."

...Even as the FBI homed in on Mayfield, Spanish authorities were disputing the FBI's fingerprint analysis on the Madrid bag. The blue plastic bag containing detonators was found in a van parked near a train station.

An independent fingerprint expert cited by the FBI in court records appeared to bolster the agency's analysis.

But Mayfield's lawyer said the expert's report had cautions that were not included in the FBI's affidavit to get the Mayfield search warrants. The expert's report included such caveats as the quality of the print copy was poor and that the image possibly included an overlay of another print. The expert, Kenneth Moses, said it was important to see the original image to make a definitive identification, Wax said.

Webservant note: The FBI Laboratory sponsors the national working group (SWGFAST) that sets scientific guidelines for fingerprint expert examinations. The Friction Ridge Digital Imaging Guidelines include the following criteria (8 bits is 256 shades of gray):

1.3 Friction Ridge Impression Digital Image Quality
1.3.1 Friction ridge impressions should be captured (color or grayscale) at 1000 ppi or higher resolution. Grayscale digital imaging should be at a minimum of 8 bits. Color digital imaging should be at a minimum of 24 bits.

1.3.2 Friction ridge impression digital images shall be stored and transmitted without compression or with lossless compression.
The above comments do not purport to represent the position or opinion of the US Army, US Army Criminal Investigation Command, US Army Crime Laboratory, FBI Laboratory, Department of Defense or any other entity or organization with which the webservant is associated.

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