The Champion

September/October 2004 , Page 4 

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The Need for Independent Forensic Audits Now

By Barry Scheck

Read more President's Column columns.

Just imagine if Spanish authorities had not fortuitously found the real source of the fingerprint on a bag of detonation devices similar to those used in the Madrid train bombings. Brandon Mayfield, see article page 6, would probably still be rotting in prison as a material witness or a defendant facing the death penalty. The FBI, buttressed by a court-appointed expert selected by the defense, would still be insisting it was Mayfield's fingerprint, confident they were not subject to examiner bias, that fingerprint analysis was a thoroughly objective, adequately validated discipline, and Spanish objections to their conclusions were baseless. And international intelligence investigators would still be confused in their efforts to find the real terrorists by the need to link Mayfield, an innocent, to a crime he didn’t commit.

This, of course, is a charitable, balanced scenario, devoid of wonderment about what surveillance (eavesdropping, Internet intercepts, financial vetting, and just pla

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