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“Tainting Evidence: Inside The Scandals At The Fbi Crime Lab [Paperback]
Publication Date: January 15, 2002 | ISBN-10: 0743236416 | ISBN-13: 978-0743236416
Since the 1930s, the FBI's crime-fighting reputation has been built, in large part, on its forensic laboratory. In 1997 that reputation was shattered by an 18-month government investigation that upheld allegations of serious malpractice. Now, "Tainting Evidence" shows that those revelations were just the tip of the iceberg. With evidence culled from thousands of pages of FBI memos, lab reports, internal investigations and dozens of interviews, including exclusive conversations with lab chemist Frederic Whitehurst, the FBI's first whistleblower, authors John Kelly and Phillip Wearne demonstrate how the FBI lab has compromised the forensic work in some of the biggest cases of the century: the Oklahoma City bombing, the Unabomber case, the 0. J. Simpson prosecution and the World Trade Center explosion. Hundreds of criminal cases may have to be reopened.
The details exposed here are shocking: the FBI explosives expert on the World Trade Center investigation who repeatedly misled the jury; hair and fiber evidence not present at a multiple-murder crime scene that somehow materialized in the hands of the FBI lab four years later; crucial chemical analyses that were never recorded in the Unabomber investigation. The list of documented instances of malpractice, flawed science, doctored lab reports, posed evidence, woeful investigative work and false testimony is truly stunning.
"Tainting Evidence" shows that while always denying it, the FBI was well aware of the inadequacies of its lab; how forensic science can be used to hinder rather than help the search for truth; how the FBI's famed investigators can never be trusted to investigate themselves.”
“The FBI Laboratory is a division within the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation that provides forensic analysis support services to the FBI, as well as to state and local law enforcement agencies free of charge. The lab is currently located at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Quantico, Virginia. Opening November 24, 1932, the lab was first known as the Technical Laboratory. It became a separate division when theBureau of Investigation (BOI) was renamed in the FBI. Public tours of the lab work area were available until the FBI moved to the newly constructed J. Edgar Hoover Building in 1974. Tours of the J. Edgar Hoover Building still were available, but the route the tour moved away from the lab work space thus sealing the lab from public view. The laboratory expanded to such an extent that the Forensic Science Research and Training Center (FSRTC) was established at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Methods at the FSRTC helped establish standardized forensic practices for law enforcement agencies.
It is a full-service operation, with some 500 scientific experts and special agents. The lab generally enjoys the reputation as the premier crime lab in the United States. However, during the 1990s, its reputation and integrity came under withering criticism, primarily due to the revelations of Special Agent Dr. Frederic Whitehurst, the most prominent whistleblower in the history of the Bureau. Whitehurst was a harsh critic of conduct at the Lab, coming to believe that a lack of funding and a pro-prosecution bias of the Lab technicians, who were FBI agents first and forensic scientists secondly due to the institutional culture of the Bureau, had caused the tainting of much evidence.
According to John F. Kelly & Phillip K. Wearne's 1998 book Tainting EvidenceTainting Evidence: Inside the Scandals at the FBI Crime Lab, the FBI Crime Lab had been hurt by a lack of funding and an institutional entropy rooted in Lab employees' belief that they were the best forensic experts in the country, if not the world. Lab employees failed to keep abreast of developments in forensic science. The two authors conclude that the worst problem was that the Lab employees were FBI agents rather than pure forensic scientists, and the investigative paradigm of the detective was an antithetical to the investigative paradigm of the scientist. Lab employees began to work backwards, from a conclusion preordained by the prosecutors they served, and sought to justify that conclusion rather than using more scientific research paradigms.
See also: Frederic Whitehurst The history of the FBI Lab hasn't been without controversy. Dr. Frederic Whitehurst, who joined the FBI in 1982 and served as a Supervisory Special Agent at the Lab from 1986 to 1998, blew the whistle on scientific misconduct at the Lab. As a result of Whitehurst's whistleblowing, the FBI Lab implemented forty major reforms, including undergoing an accreditation process.
Whitehurst's whistleblowing and the adverse publicity trials in which FBI Lab employees were revealed as incompetent or disingenuous led to the implementation of reforms under then-FBI chief Louis Freeh.”
“United States Court of Appeals
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT
Argued March 31, 1995 Decided May 9, 1995
United States of America,
Appeal from the United States District Court
for the District of Columbia
Michael H. Stone argued the cause and filed the briefs for appellant.
Gregory A. Gruber, Assistant U.S. Attorney, appeared pro hac vice and argued the cause for appellee. With him on the brief were Eric H. Holder, Jr., U.S. Attorney, John R. Fisher, Elizabeth Trosman and Eric B. Marcy, Assistant U.S. Attorneys [Marcy is Field McConnell’s brother–in-law].
Before: Buckley, Williams and Tatel, Circuit Judges.
Opinion for the Court filed by Circuit Judge Williams.
Williams, Circuit Judge : Matthew Lyons was indicted for hiring an undercover police officer to murder a man he believed to be his wife's lover. In exchange for the government's agreement to dismiss two local-law counts and to refrain from opposing a reduction in his sentence for acceptance of responsibility, Lyons pleaded guilty to one count of violating the federal murder-for-hire statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1958 (Supp. 1992). “
More to follow.
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