Last week, I wrote a blog post about the scandal that arose in the mid-1990s at the FBI criminal laboratory when it was revealed that results of forensic tests on as many as 10,000 cases had been falsified or otherwise presented to juries in ways that were scientifically unfounded and virtually guaranteed to produce guilty verdicts.
The head of the FBI, Louis Freeh, and the DOJ brass formed a Task Force to investigate. They concentrated on the work of a senior forensics analyst, Michael Malone, who was dismissed. That so-called investigation went on for years. In silence.
Until last Friday, that is.
That was the day the Washington Post announced that the DOJ would now perform analyses of an undetermined number of the cases that were tried during this period and resulted in guilty verdicts. Those convicted are scattered throughout prisons all of the US. Some have completed their sentences and have been released.
And today, Prism learned that when Freeh was running the task force investigating sloppy forensic testing he was encouraging FBI personnel to do exactly the opposite of what he did while investigating the Penn State pedophile scandal
“He did everything in his power to cover them up,” referring to the many mistakes made by FBI forensic specialists in their analyses, particularly their analyses of hair. The protocol used in the analysis was found to be seriously flawed and unprofessionally applied. The outcome was that many were convicted and sentenced to long imprisonments on the strength of unreliable testing.
These remarks came from C. Fred Whitehurst, the former FBI Special Agent, the whistleblower whose revelations created a firestorm of criticism of the FBI lab which, until then, had been regarded as the gold standard of forensic analysis.
Whitehurst charged that, “In light of the most recent revelations about FBI lab failures requiring 10,000 more cases to be reviewed we should read of this pot calling the pan black.”
In a report released Friday morning, former FBI Director Louis Freeh writes that “the most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who [former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry] Sandusky victimized. Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky’s victims until after Sandusky’s arrest.”
But Whitehurst says that “While I was reporting issues at the FBI crime lab, FBI Director Louis Freeh was doing every thing he could to shut me down including coming at me with proposed criminal charges, referrals for fitness for duty (psych evals), destroying my career, moving me around the lab like a rag doll, ruining my wife’s career. This man has no conscience and he is accusing Penn State managers of not taking any steps. He ought to be ashamed. Before the lab scandal is over you will find that Freeh was right in the middle of it. He did EXACTLY what the Penn State folks did.”
The task force remained operational for years, but is generally thought to have done virtually nothing to identify or alleviate the conditions of thousands sent to prison on the basis of faulty forensics.