Report links lawyer’s religion to FBI’s zeal

FBI fingerprint examiners were reluctant to admit that they had mistakenly linked an Oregon lawyer to the 2004 Madrid train bombings in part because he was a Muslim convert and had represented a terrorism defendant in court, according to a report released yesterday by the Justice Department’s inspector general.

The 20-page summary report by Inspector General Glenn A. Fine said that Brandon Mayfield’s religion “was not the sole or primary cause” of the FBI Laboratory’s mistaken identification of him, but it contributed to the bureau’s reluctance to reexamine conclusions in the case. Several FBI and Justice Department officials acknowledged that “Mayfield’s religion was a factor in the investigation,” the report said, in part because officials expected that any suspect in the bombings was likely to be Muslim.

Washington Post, 7 January 2006