May 25, 2004

THIS SEEMS LIKE A MAJOR SCREWUP BY THE FBI for which heads should probably roll:

PORTLAND, Ore. – 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. . . .

Court documents released Monday suggested that the mistaken arrest first sprang from an error by the FBI’s supercomputer for matching fingerprints and then was compounded by the FBI’s own analysts.

The apology is to the FBI’s credit. But it makes me wonder how many other such matches are wrong. I wonder if this is connected with this homeland security fingerprint initiative that I was criticizing two years ago?

For more on questions about fingerprint evidence, read this and this.

UPDATE: James Rummel weighs in with personal experience.