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Oregon Editors Say

More than an apology needed

Arresting Brandon Mayfield on flimsy evidence was rash and ill-considered

The (Corvallis) Gazette-Times

The fact that the FBI released Portland lawyer Brandon Mayfield on May 20 is not as surprising as his arrest in the first place. The FBI said it regretted any hardship it caused Mayfield ' not actually an apology, considering the agency's botched handling of the Mayfield case.

The FBI arrested Mayfield on May 6, apparently because his fingerprint turned up on a bag of detonators recovered from the blast area in Madrid. It didn't seem to matter that Mayfield was nowhere near Madrid on March 11, when a bomb exploded, killing 191 people and injuring 2,000 others.

If only the FBI had thought it relevant that Mayfield had not been out of the country for 10 years and had never been to Spain. The FBI now is blaming Spanish authorities for the poor quality of the fingerprint on which they based Mayfield's arrest.

Odd, isn't it, how a Muslim from Portland could have a fingerprint so similar to that of an Algerian man whose fingerprint actually was on that bag of detonators? So we can assume, then, that Mayfield being a Muslim from Portland ' the city where the FBI has arrested eight other Taliban wannabes to date ' had nothing to do with his arrest?

With all due respect for the difficult job that the FBI is charged with, that dog won't hunt. Mayfield's arrest appears rash and ill-considered.

— Robert Jordan, the FBI's agent in charge of the agency's Portland office, said the case has prompted a re-examination of how the FBI conducts fingerprint analysis.

It also might be useful to review the role of presumption of innocence, especially as it applies to Portland Muslims.

President Bush was careful to say just after 9-11 that the war on terrorism would not be a war on Islam. But as the ranks of arrested, abused and wrongly accused Muslims grow, that's not something that many people, especially Muslims, are likely to believe.