FBI Lab Investigation Widens

The investigation into the DNA lab at the FBI is widening. Instapundit is on top of it, as is MSNBC.
The AP reported this month that FBI lab technician Jacquelyn Blake quit while under investigation for failing to follow required scientific procedures while analyzing 103 DNA samples over the past couple of years, and a second lab employee was indicted for allegedly providing false testimony.

Inspector General Glenn Fine expanded the Blake inquiry to examine the FBI lab’s broader practices in DNA cases. The FBI has been cooperating, the government officials said.

The officials said the goal of the investigation is to identify vulnerabilities in lab procedure that could affect the quality of the FBI’s DNA analyses or permit a rogue employee to go undetected.
Frederic Whitehurst, the whistleblower in the 1995 FBI lab scandal that affected the WTC and Oklahoma City bombing investigations, and who has gone on to become a lawyer as well as forensic specialist, is also on top of the new inquiry. According to the MSNBC report,
Criminal defense lawyers are planning challenges to the database and to DNA evidence in cases involving the FBI lab technician or the local crime labs accused of wrongdoing. “All of us are depending on DNA as a gold standard in forensics work — innocence projects, prosecutors and defense lawyers. And now we don’t have a gold standard. The gold has been tarnished,” said Frederic Whitehurst, a lawyer and former FBI lab employee whose whistle-blower allegations led to major changes in the lab in the mid-1990s.
Bottom Line according to Dr. Whitehurst: DNA may be an almost pure and perfect science, but it becomes easily tainted by the fact that DNA scientists are human beings. Here's more from Dr. Whitehurst:

The FBI lab has been accredited by the American Society of Crime Lab Directors. That means that the ASCLD has certified that the lab is ready to be audited. The lab refuses to be audited. No testing laboratory system in this country tasked with health, safety, and welfare goes unaudited except forensic labs.

The FBI lab sets the pace by refusing to be audited by external independent auditors. They say that because they are accredited they don't need to go further. That accreditation process takes place every five years. Recent articles in the media note that a DNA crime lab technician, Jacqueline Blake, had been putting out flawed work product for two years. Jacqueline Blake was hired after the last ASCLD certification of the FBI crime lab, faked evidence for two years and is now gone, without the ASCLD process any the wiser.

Five years between review is a joke. How many people in the FBI crime lab are faking evidence today which will result in citizens of this country falsely accused, put into cages and death chambers? How many and for how long will be tolerate this as a nation?

There is no audit process at the FBI crime lab. They refuse to be audited. They just refuse to be audited. What they need is continual audit, surprise audit, annual audit, to know that tomorrow may bring an audit, so don't fake it today. But they don't have it. It seems that we are not yet convinced that that lab is manned by human beings, not Gods. [source: private listserv]
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