Nearly every criminal case the FBI and US Justice Department has reviewed during a major investigation that began in 2012 regarding an FBI lab unit has involved flawed forensic testimony, The Washington Post reported.
The review – originally spurred by a Post report in 2012 over flawed forensic testimony by Federal Bureau of Investigation lab technicians that may have led to convictions of hundreds of innocent people – was cut short last August when its findings “troubled the bureau,” according to the Post. The review was ordered by the Justice Department (DOJ) to resume this month, government officials said.
Most of the defendants in cases that involved possibly-botched testimony over microscopic hair matches were never told that their case was part of the review, which includes 2,600 convictions and 45 death-row cases from the 1980s and 1990s. In these cases, the FBI’s hair and fiber unit claimed it found a match to crime-scene samples prior to the age of DNA testing of hair.
The FBI reviewed around 160 cases before halting the investigation 11 months ago, officials said. The probe resumed once the DOJ inspector general lambasted the FBI for the delay in this investigation and another involving the same forensic unit.
A DOJ spokesman said that by last August, reviews were completed and notifications offered for defendants in 23 cases, including 14 death-row cases, that FBI examiners “exceeded the limits of science” when linking hair to crime-scene evidence.
Yet the FBI restarted the review given concerns that forensic errors applied to the “vast majority” of cases. This restart caused major delays in the investigation, leading to objections by the DOJ in January. The FBI and DOJ standoff was finally resolved this month.
“I don’t know whether history is repeating itself, but clearly the [latest] report doesn’t give anyone a sense of confidence that the work of the examiners whose conduct was first publicly questioned in 1997 was reviewed as diligently and promptly as it needed to be,” said Michael R. Bromwich, DOJ inspector general from 1994 to 1999.
“Now we are left 18 years [later] with a very unhappy, unsatisfying and disquieting situation, which is far harder to remedy than if the problems had been addressed promptly,” he added.
The reviews resumed this month under original terms based on an order by Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, officials said.
The delay came, in part, “from a vigorous debate that occurred within the FBI and DOJ about the appropriate scientific standards we should apply when reviewing FBI lab examiner testimony — many years after the fact,” the FBI said. “Working closely with DOJ, we have resolved those issues and are moving forward with the transcript review for the remaining cases.”
Emily Pierce, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said: “The Department of Justice never signed off on the FBI’s decision to change the way they reviewed the hair analysis. We are pleased that the review has resumed and that notification letters will be going out in the next few weeks.”
Since 2012, the review has addressed only about 10 percent of the 2,600 convictions under suspicion, and maybe two-thirds of questioned death-row sentences.
The DOJ will notify defendants about misconduct in two more death-row cases and in 134 non-capital cases over the next month. The department will also complete evaluations of 98 other cases by early October, including 14 more death-row cases.
In question is a 10-member FBI unit that testified in cases across the nation that involved murder, rape, and various other violent felonies.
Though the FBI has said since the 1970s that hair evidence cannot be used as positive identification, agents still often testified to the near-certainty of matches, according to the Post. Ultimately, there is no accepted research regarding how often hair from different people can appear as the same. Today, the FBI uses visual hair comparison protocols to rule out a potential suspect as a source of hair found at a crime scene before using more accurate DNA testing.
The review highlights a hesitance among courts and law enforcement to address systemic faults of forensic testimony and methods from bygone eras.
“I see this as a tip-of-the-iceberg problem,” said Erin Murphy, an expert on modern scientific evidence who teaches at New York University.
“It’s not as though this is one bad apple or even that this is one bad-apple discipline,” she said. “There is a long list of disciplines that have exhibited problems, where if you opened up cases you’d see the same kinds of overstated claims and unfounded statements.”
Since the beginning of the Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip, Israel has killed seven Palestinian journalists and media workers.
According to Pls48.net news website, Palestinian medical sources announced on Wednesday afternoon the death of photojournalist Rami Rayan, who was killed while working in the Souq Al-Bastat, east of Gaza City, when Israeli forces committed a massacre against civilians. Earlier in the day, journalist Ahed Zaqqout, who worked in sports journalism for several agencies, was announced dead.
Israel’s assault on Gaza also led to the killing of photojournalist Khaled Hamad, as well as journalists Najla Mahmoud Haj, Abdul Rahman Ziad Abu Hin, Ezzat Duheir and Bahauddin Ghareeb.
The Palestinian Journalist Bloc issued a statement condemning Israel’s premeditated targeting of journalists and media workers, saying the Israeli army had crossed all red lines by targeting reporters and shattering international laws and norms.
The bloc demanded that the international community and the United Nations uphold their responsibilities regarding the Israeli targeting of journalists and media workers and depart from their shameful silence.
The bloc also criticised local, Arab and international press agencies, particularly the Arab Journalists Union and Reporters Without Borders, as well as all the institutions that deal with journalists and media workers’ rights, for their current silence towards the killing of Palestinian journalists in the Gaza Strip.
The statement stressed that Israel’s crimes against the media workers reflect its daily crimes against the Palestinian people, and demanded for the international community to curb the Israeli aggression and to stop supplying it with arms that are used to kill civilians.
UN human rights chief Navi Pillay lashed out at the Zionist entity on Thursday, over its attacks in Gaza, saying that such attacks are considered as Israel’s “deliberate defiance” of international law.
Pillay slammed the country’s attacks on homes, schools, hospitals and United Nations facilities which are sheltering 250,000 civilians in Gaza.
“There appears to be deliberate defiance of obligations that international law imposes on Israel,” the South African told reporters.
Pillay said that repeated calls to respect the laws of war had gone unheeded during the latest crisis and previous spikes in the Israeli offensive.
“The same pattern of attacks is occurring now on homes, schools, hospitals, UN premises. None of this appears to me to be accidental,” she said.
She spoke a day after Israeli shells slammed into a UN school in Jabalia refugee camp which was sheltering some 3,300 homeless Gazans, killing at least 16 people.
Pillay said that under international law, civilian facilities should not be attacked, noting that due warning must be given before an attack, in order to allow civilians to be evacuated.
“It is completely unconscionable that the proportionality and precaution that international law requires is being ignored,” said Pillay.
She also criticized Israel’s strikes on Gaza’s power plant, as well as water and sewerage systems.
Last week, the UN Human Rights Council voted to open an inquiry into the Gaza offensive, despite fierce opposition from the Zionist entity and its international sponsor, the United States.
“We cannot allow impunity. We cannot allow this lack of accountability to go on,” Pillay said on Thursday, calling into question domestic investigations by Israel into abuses.
“I join the world in condemning the aggression that is taking place in Gaza, and particularly the killing of civilians. This is wrong and it will always be wrong,” she added.
Gaza Ministry of Health: Israeli attack on crowded market during ceasefire is ‘barbarity personified’
Gaza, Occupied Palestine – Ministry of Health Gaza is outraged at the Israeli massacre perpetrated during the so-called humanitarian ceasefire, when F-16s fired missiles into the crowded Shujeiyah market as hundreds took advantage of the lull to buy food and supplies.
At least 17 people have been killed and 200 injured.
“This atrocity is barbarity personified,” said Director General, Ministry of Health Dr Medhat Abbas.
Not satisfied with exterminating entire families in their own homes, not satisfied with killing people praying in mosques, not satisfied with killing patients, staff and visitors in hospitals, not satisfied with killing ambulance drivers as they retrieve the dead and injured, not satisfied with killing women and children sheltering in UNRWA school, the Israeli death machine now blatantly attacks a crowded public market DURING a humanitarian ceasefire, in an unrivaled cruel and cynical exercise of savagery and barbarism.
The Ministry of Health Gaza condemns this latest atrocity in the strongest possible terms, and considers that any further prevarication by the international community can only be seen as complicity in the increasingly barbaric and clearly genocidal war crimes being visited on the citizenry of Gaza.
The Ministry demands immediate international intervention to bring the rogue ‘state’ of Israel under control, and an immediate end to its carnage in Gaza.
Another day, another UN school hit by Israeli shelling in Gaza. Israel’s attack this morning killed at least 16 civilians sheltering at the school and wounded dozens. The casualties figures are expected to rise.
Israel and even most of its critics tell us that the civilian casualties are accidental, caused by Israel’s need to wage its war against Hamas in heavily built-up areas of Gaza. Israel is accused of “disproportionality”, or of recklessness, or of inflicting unfortunate collateral damage.
But here’s another possibility: that the people of Gaza, not just Hamas, are the target. That Israel’s generals don’t see much difference between the two.
Israel’s army is “degrading” – or “mowing the lawn”, in even worse military parlance – Gaza’s ability to resist. Not Hamas’ abilities, but Gaza’s. Because the problem lies not with Hamas. Hamas is simply a symptom, of the people of Gaza’s determination to liberate themselves from Israel’s siege.
That is why the power plant was destroyed yesterday. That is why Israel has been starving Gaza for years through its siege, limiting the entry of basic foods and counting the minimum calories people need for bare survival – putting them on a diet, as one senior adviser jokingly termed it. That is why Gaza’s infrastructure is being trashed – the notorious Dahiya doctrine, devised by Israeli generals in 2006 as way to force hostile populations back into the Stone Age, keeping them preoccupied with the essentials of life rather than demanding, or fighting, for their rights.
Israel knows it cannot destroy Hamas’ will to resist without destroying Gaza’s will to resist too. And that is what it looks like we are seeing played out here day-in, day-out. Civilians, it seems, must die to teach Gaza a lesson: you will submit.
Israeli occupation forces snuck into Lebanon and abducted a shepherd from the southeastern town of Shebaa at dawn Wednesday, one day after they stole a herd of goats from the same area, state media reported.
Ismail Khalil Nabaa was kidnapped in Shebaa and taken to the nearby occupied Shebaa Farms area.
UNIFIL is working to secure his release, Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA ) said.
The owners of the kidnapped herd, Mohammed Khalil Nabaa and Khodour Hamdan, said they had escaped an Israeli ambush on Lebanese territory on Tuesday.
The report did not speculate over why Israeli forces kidnapped the goats and shepherd.
MP Qassem Hashem called Nabaa’s kidnapping a violation of national sovereignty and international charters, NNA reported.
“The Zionist enemy continues its aggression, abducts Lebanese shepherds and seizes their flocks. The UNIFIL must fully perform its duty,” the NNA quoted him as saying.
Chile, El Salvador and Peru have announced they are recalling their ambassadors in Tel Aviv in consultation to protest the Israeli assault on the besieged strip of Gaza.
The moves come on the heels of Brazil and Ecuador, who announced last week that they were recalling their envoys.
“Given the escalation of Israeli military operations in Gaza, the Government of Chile, in coordination with others in our region, has decided to call in consultation Santiago Ambassador of Chile in Tel Aviv, Jorge Montero,” the Chilean foreign ministry in Santiago said in a statement.
“Chile notes with great concern and dismay that such military operations, which at this stage of development are subject to a collective punishment against the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza do not respect fundamental rules of international humanitarian law.”
The Chilean foreign ministry emphasized the more than 1,000 Palestinians killed, including women and children during Operation Protective Edge, which continued for a 22nd day on Tuesday. The statement also noted Israel’s attacks “on schools and hospitals.”
“The scale and intensity of Israeli operations in Gaza violate the principle of proportionality in the use of force, an essential requirement to justify self-defense,” the statement added, referring to rocket fire by the resistance movements in the coastal territory.
El Salvador Ambassador in the Zionist entity Susana Edith Gun was also recalled for “urgent consultations” on Tuesday. The Foreign Ministry of the Central American country said that El Salvador President Sanchez Ceren gave these instructions “over serious escalation of violence and Israel’s bombings in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.”
A similar statement was also published by the Peruvian Foreign Ministry, condemning Israel’s operation in Gaza.
Venezuela and Bolivia that cut their ties with Tel Aviv over Israel’s 2009 war on Gaza have also strongly condemned Israel’s actions.
Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico and Venezuela were among the 29 countries that voted in favor of a probe by the UN Human Rights Council into Israel’s war crimes in Gaza.
The Israeli army continued its illegitimate bombardment of Palestinian homes, and civilian property, and killed five family members of a Palestinian journalist, including two children in Gaza City.
Media sources said the Israeli strikes also targeted government facilities and ministries, media outlets, mosques and even homes of senior political leaders of Hamas, including the deputy head of the Hamas Political Bureau, Ismael Haniyya.
Medical sources said resident Ezzat Dheir, a 23-year-old journalist, working for a local radio, was killed along with four members of his family, after an Israeli missile striking his home.
The slain Palestinians have been identified as:
1. Ezzat Dheir, 23, Rafah.
2. Turkeyya Dheir, 80, Rafah.
3. Yasmeen Dheir, 25, Rafah.
4. Mary Dheir, 12, Rafah.
5. Tasneem Dheir, 8, Rafah.
The al-Hurriyya (Freedom) Radio issued a statement denouncing the ongoing Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people, including journalists and medics, adding that Dheir was its correspondent in Gaza.
Also on Tuesday, head of the al-Borei Local council, Anis Abu Shammala, was killed after an israeli missile was fired into his home.
On Monday, ten children were killed, and more than 30 were injured, when the army fires missiles into a playground north of the Shaty’ refugee camp, west of Gaza City.
The army also fired missiles into clinics of the Shifa Hospital, one of the biggest hospitals in the Gaza Strip, wounding at least five Palestinians.
Another Palestinian was killed, and three were injured, after the army fired a missile into his home in Beit Lahia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.
Three Palestinians, including two brothers, have also been killed by an Israeli missile striking a home, belonging to al-Hashshash family, in Rafah.
Gaza’s main power plant was hit by Israeli tank shells on Tuesday, shutting it down completely. The power plant had already been operating at 20% capacity, after having been hit by Israeli airstrikes last week. Most Palestinians depend on the central Gaza power plant to provide electricity.
This will also severely impact the ability of Palestinians to communicate to the outside world via the Internet — which has been the main source of information getting out of Gaza up until this point. Gaza’s main power plant was also heavily bombarded during the Israeli invasion of 2009, which had a serious impact on hospitals’ ability to provide care.
Former CIA Boss George Tenet Leading Plans To Attack Upcoming Senate Report On CIA’s Torture Program
As we continue to wait for the White House to finally release the heavily redacted version of the executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s CIA torture report (the full report is over 6,300 pages and cost $40 million to produce), it appears that those who are likely to take the blame are already preparing their response. As has already leaked out over the past few months, the report will show how the program went further than people expected, that it basically uncovered no terrorist plots and that the CIA regularly lied to Congress about the nature of the program and its impact. The CIA, led by current boss John Brennan, has hit back against these conclusions, but it appears that those who were actually in power during the torture program are even more worried. Former CIA boss George Tenet, who was already considered something of a disgrace for the CIA’s intelligence failures prior to invading Iraq, is apparently working hard behind the scenes to coordinate an attack on the credibility of the report — because it pretty clearly is going to attack his credibility.
Just after the Senate Intelligence Committee voted in April to declassify hundreds of pages of a withering report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s detention and interrogation program, C.I.A. Director John O. Brennan convened a meeting of the men who had played a role overseeing the program in its seven-year history.
The spies, past and present, faced each other around the long wooden conference table on the seventh floor of the C.I.A.’s headquarters in Northern Virginia: J. Cofer Black, head of the agency’s counterterrorism center at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks; the undercover officer who now holds that job; and a number of other former officials from the C.I.A.’s clandestine service. Over the speakerphone came the distinctive, Queens-accented voice of George J. Tenet.
Over the past several months, Mr. Tenet has quietly engineered a counterattack against the Senate committee’s voluminous report, which could become public next month.
Apparently Tenet and others demanded early access to the report, and eventually Dianne Feinstein, the White House and those former CIA officials negotiated a deal letting them read the report over in James Clapper’s offices. The NY Times report also details how Brennan is basically a Tenet lackey whose rise through the ranks occurred under Tenet — making it more likely that Brennan wants to protect the reputation of his former boss.
We’ll see how this eventual “response” comes out, but given the initial leaks from the report, it sounds like it’s going to be fairly devastating, and make a further mockery of Tenet. As the report linked above also notes, back in 2007 Tenet got angry at a 60 Minutes interviewer and started wagging his finger at the correspondent, while insisting “We don’t torture people!”
Wagging a finger at the correspondent, Scott Pelley, Mr. Tenet said over and over, “We don’t torture people.”
“No, listen to me. No, listen to me. I want you to listen to me,” he went on. “Everybody forgets one central context of what we lived through: The palpable fear that we felt on the basis of that fact that there was so much we did not know. I know that this program has saved lives. I know we’ve disrupted plots.”
It’s pretty easy to say that when no one can fact-check you. But it appears that the report is going to point out that almost none of what Tenet said was true. No wonder he’s so concerned about leading the attack on the report.
Reham is used to not seeing her husband Ayed for several days on end. During war times, she rarely sleeps. Watching over her little children, she sits by her bed horrified as the radio blares out the news of an air-strike that hit somewhere north of Gaza, where she lives. The restless wife would soon try calling her husband, and more often than not, he didn’t pick up. Ayed would be busy evacuating the injured or rescuing the bodies of people who were killed in the aftermath of an Israeli shelling.
Twenty-eight-year-old Ayed al-Buraey was a Palestinian paramedic from northern Gaza. After he finished his shift, Ayed would normally call his wife to assure her that he was safe. This time however, he did not call.
Ayed was killed on July 25 when Israeli forces shelled the ambulance he was in while he and his crew were on their way to evacuate the injured in Beit Hanoun. The shells struck the ambulance and set it on fire. Hatem Shahin, a volunteer paramedic, was with the crew when the ambulance vehicle was shelled. He was injured in the attack but managed to get out of the ambulance and, with the help of few young men, walked to Beit Hanoun Hospital, where he was then taken to al-Awda Hospital in Jabaliya.
“We were heading to al-Masreyyeen Street to evacuate a few injured people stuck there. Once we entered the street, a shell hit our ambulance. I started shouting but couldn’t hear anything. The vehicle was ablaze. I crawled out of it and walked away,” 38-year-old Shahin told Al-Akhbar.
“When I arrived at the hospital, I was told that Jawad Bdeir [the ambulance driver] was also injured and that Ayed was killed. I was shocked,” Hatem said.
Since the start of its most recent onslaught on Gaza on July 8, Israeli forces have on several occasions attacked medical personnel, rescue teams and ambulances. According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza, Israeli forces have killed seven medical personnel and injured 16 others so far. Nearly 20 ambulance vehicles have been completely destroyed during the same period.
Israeli forces have also attacked hospitals and medical staff such as Balsam hospital, Beit Hanoun hospital in Beit Hanoun, the Algerian hospital in Khan Younis and al-Wafa hospital, which finally collapsed after Israeli warplanes bombarded it several times.
”I came home to tell you I’m safe”
As the Palestinian death toll increased day by day, Ayed would rarely come back home to see his wife and two little children. On the few occasions he did manage to come back, he would take his four-month-old baby in his arms and fall asleep.
“I was always worried to death about him,” Reham said tearfully. “It was like I knew something wrong would happen to him. We rarely saw him, he came home only three times since the start of this war.”
“When I asked him about his work, he couldn’t even reply because of how tired he was. He only hugged the children and slept. He used to tell me, ‘I came back to tell you I’m safe, so don’t worry about me.’”
The ambulance vehicle in which Ayed was killed belonged to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society. It was then removed from the street by an Israeli armored bulldozer, which put it on the side of the street. Shortly afterwards, another ambulance arrived at the scene in order to evacuate Ayed’s body. This time, the International Committee of the Red Cross coordinated its access to the area, but as soon as it came into the street, it was fired upon by the Israeli army and another medic was moderately injured.
In another incident, Israeli forces opened fire on medical personnel as they were evacuating a handicapped person from al-Qarara area in Khan Younis. They killed one paramedic. Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza reports: “As a result of the attack, a medic, Mohammed Hassan al-Abadla, 32, was injured when he was outside the vehicle. Under the fire, the ambulance driver drove away. Communication with the injured medic was cut and he stayed in the area for half an hour, during which he bled to death. The ICRC had to coordinate again for his fellow medics to reach him. They found him dead.”Jihad Saleem, 43, is an ambulance officer from Gaza. He says although this has been his job for years, every time he receives a call informing him of a body to be picked up or an injured person to be rescued or a group of people to be evacuated, he feels his heart beat as if it was his first time all over again.
“When I see bodies torn to pieces, sometimes disemboweled, I think of them as my own family,” he told Al-Akhbar.
“We’re always stressed because of what we see and what we have to deal with. We always imagine this is our own family we’re going to save,” he explained, adding that it actually happened to one of his colleagues. “He went to save a group of people only to find out it was his brother’s house and four of the dead were his own nephews.”
Another paramedic, Ahmed Musallam, was injured while he was evacuating residents from a building that was going to be bombed. Even though Ahmed was hit by shrapnel in his leg, he refuses to let his injury stop him from doing his job.
“I just couldn’t sit at home despite the pain in my leg. It pains me much more to see these little children dying under the rubble and hear their mothers mourn over them. I had to come back here,” the 30-year-old told Al-Akhbar. “This is where I belong, and my people need me here.”
Israeli attacks on medical personnel, particularly paramedics, as well as the obstruction of medical access to the injured have been condemned by various human rights organizations in Gaza and described as “a serious violation of the International humanitarian law that may amount to war crimes.”
Today Reham is completely distraught over Ayed’s loss. She described him as stubborn, saying he always refused sit at home. “He used to tell me, ‘If we all sat at home and didn’t go to work, who will save all these people?’”
“But now he’s [the one who] died and no one came to save him. My children and I will never see him again,” she said.
Follow Mohammed Suliman on Twitter | @imPalestine
Beit Furik, Occupied Palestine – At 22:00 in the evening of Friday, July 25th, Israeli forces injured 15 Palestinians during a protest in the village of Beit Furik, which is located fifteen km southeast of Nablus in the northern half of the West Bank.
Approximately 2000 protesters were marching towards the checkpoint near the village. Roughly 40 Israeli soldiers were waiting for them there, and when they came into view, the soldiers began to shoot tear gas canisters in their direction. Shortly after the protest began, the soldiers changed from firing tear gas, to live ammunition.
23-year-old Yousef Mfeed Mletat was struck by a bullet in his left hip. He recounted the scene tearfully in his bed in Rafidia hospital in Nablus. “They were less than four meters away when they shot me. And then they started to beat me. A soldier was standing on my stomach while some of the others were kicking me. This went on for 15 minutes.” He revealed several welts on his arms and shoulders.
Yousef Mfeed Mletat (photo by ISM).
Yahya Hanay, who is 25-years-old, was trying to escape from the scene, when a stun grenade struck his hand, which was covering his face at the time. As he lay on the ground, another stun grenade hit his knee. Yahya has nerve damage in his left thumb, which is said to be serious.
Yahya Hanay (photo by ISM).
19-year-old Yezen Tala Khatatba, was attempting to help an injured protester, when he was shot in the left knee. The bullet exited his left knee and then entered an exited his right one. He was wearing bandages on both knees as he told his story. “The ambulance was taking me to the hospital, when soldiers twice stopped me for half an hour at a checkpoint. When I told them I had a leg injury, they said it would have been better if I’d been hit in the head.” Yezen also mentioned that another injured protestor had been taken from the ambulance at the checkpoint and beaten by soldiers.