Joint Terrorism Task Force Screws Up:
False Fingerprint Puts Lawyer in Jail
...and Half of Portland's Officers Move Out of the FBI Building

[Mayfield headlines] Portland once again became an international flash-point for the so-called "War on Terrorism" when the FBI announced its arrest of local attorney Brandon Mayfield on May 7. They claimed that a fingerprint found on a plastic bag related to the March 11 train bombing in Madrid, Spain matched Mayfield's. The problem was, the fingerprint did not match. Mayfield was released on May 20, and the FBI gave a half- hearted apology, after they had already searched his home and seized documents regarding his clients, including one of the "Portland Seven."

The May 28 Portland Tribune states that "The FBI's critics say that Mayfield's ordeal makes the second headline-grabbing arrest by Portland's FBI Joint Terrorism Task force since Sept. 11, 2001, in which an explosive piece of supposedly objective evidence turned out to be embarrassingly wrong." The first was the mistaken arrest of Sheik Mohamad Kariye in 2002 based on a false reading of explosives on his luggage (see PPRs #28-29).

It is not actually clear whether any agency other than the FBI was directly involved in the Mayfield mess- up, so if the Portland Police's eight full-time members of the Portland Joint Terrorism Task Force (PJTTF) were involved, nobody has said anything.

Shortly after the affair, FBI director Robert Mueller visited Portland, where he defended the arrest of Mayfield and claimed "the mistake is being studied by several teams of experts to prevent future problems" (Tribune, July 2). At about the same time, Chief Foxworth, who received his FBI security clearance earlier this year, asked six of the officers (reported in the July 6 Tribune, confirmed to us by Foxworth) to relocate back to the Justice Center from the FBI building to focus on criminal investigations unrelated to "terrorism."

Mayor Katz, who only recently received security clearance despite her promise to apply for it in October, 2003, said through her spokesperson that the city is not ending their involvement in the PJTTF and she plans to renew their contract in the fall. Police spokesperson Brian Schmautz told Willamette Week that "There are organized-crime investigations that require the attention of the officers," explaining their return to acting as Portland's Criminal Intelligence Unit, while still ready to work with the FBI at a moment's notice (July 14). Hopefully, this does not include infiltration of peace groups or further harassment of Muslims--Kariye, the Portland Seven, and Mayfield all practice Islam.


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