US Department of Justice sought cover-up on FBI scandal: Review
A US Department of Justice (DoJ) task force charged with studying the performance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) laboratories in the 1990s is suspected of having sought to cover up scandalous FBI behavior.
The DoJ set up a task force in the 1990s to investigate reports of data manipulation by the FBI crime laboratories.
The findings of the investigation revealed that the laboratories of the FBI manipulated DNA test results under pressure from superior authorities and presented flawed results for years in order to tilt the case in favor of the claimants and against the defendants.
The issue was first revealed in 1995 when Fredric Whitehurst, a chemist and lawyer who worked at the FBI’s crime lab, testified that he was told by his superiors to perjure in order to facilitate the prosecution of two men accused of involvement in the World Trade Center bombing in February 26, 1993.
“There was a great deal of pressure put upon me to bias my interpretation,” the FBI whistleblower said at the US District Court in New York in 1995.
Whitehurst had written or passed along scores of memos over the years warning about the lack of impartiality and scientific standards in FBI’s forensic research on the World Trade Center attack and in other cases.
After the Justice Department’s inspector general began a review of Whitehurst’s claims, Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis J. Freeh decided to launch a task force to dig through thousands of cases involving discredited agents, to ensure that “no defendant’s right to a fair trial was jeopardized.”
It took the task force nine years to complete the mission. However, it never publicly released the results of its case reviews of suspicious lab work, the names of the defendants who were convicted as a result and the nature or scope of the forensic problems it found.
Tens of thousands are probably in jails on account of the flawed and criminal lab work conducted by the FBI, Whitehurst noted.
A recent review by the US daily Washington Post on more than 10,000 pages of the task force documents revealed that “the panel operated in secret and with close oversight by FBI and Justice Department brass – including Reno and Freeh’s top deputy – who took steps to control the information uncovered by the group.”
Innocent prisoners who were probably jailed mistakenly never got the chance to have their cases reviewed, because neither their advocates nor their relatives were informed of the flawed nature of the FBI laboratory results.
The Justice Department continues to decline to release the names of the affected defendants.