Could the Mayfield case be another long bungle, a la Yee? With Yee, we heard first that he had classified documents. Then we heard that the prosecution wasn’t sure whether or not they were classified. Then all charges were dropped, although an official was quoted saying something cryptic about how national security concerns prevented further pursuit of the charges.
In Mayfield’s case, we heard that his fingerprints were on material linked to the Madrid bombings. Now it’s just one fingerprint, and it may not be his.
The threat of terror is real, and that’s why every one of these arrests is a high-stakes proposition. The Justice Department’s credibility and honesty are at stake. Not much of it is left after Yee. Will they squander the remainder on Mayfield? From AP:
The newspaper El Pais reported Saturday that Spanish investigators have serious doubts as to whether the fingerprint found on a plastic bag tied to March 11 explosions on commuter trains is that of Portland-area lawyer Brandon Mayfield.
The report said Spanish forensics experts found only eight points of similarity between the print and the one of Mayfield held in U.S. files because of his status as a former member of the Army.
The FBI said it found 15 such points, El Pais said.
The Interior Ministry declined to comment on the report.
Mayfield, 37, was arrested at his law office on Thursday as a material witness in the March 11 bombings, which killed 191 people and wounded 2,000.
He has not been charged with a crime.
Spanish officials say at least one fingerprint thought to be Mayfield’s was found on a plastic bag containing detonators of the kind used in the attacks. The bag was found in a van left near the station from which three of the four trains bombed departed.
U.S. officials also said a single print of Mayfield’s was found on the bag.
The number of points of coincidence required to submit prints as evidence had changed over the years.
The Weekly Detail, an Internet newspaper for fingerprint experts, says a certain number of coinciding so-called Galton points used to be required by various countries before an identification was legally accepted.
However it said that now investigators evaluate prints on a number of levels, thus “there is no statistical foundation for a minimum point requirement” because modern tests are both qualitative and quantitative and too complex to be quantified.