FBI Accused of Trying to Bury Findings That Raised Questions Over DNA Claims

The FBI is accused of launching a coordinated effort to bury the results of a finding by an Arizona crime lab analyst, Kathryn Troyer, that individuals may have very similar DNA profiles. The finding throws into question the claims made in court about the unlikelihood of two individuals sharing such similarities. Where such matches have been portrayed as 1 in 113 billion — a virtual guarantee of conviction — it turns out to be more common. Rather than being concerned over past representations in court and the accuracy of its work, the FBI reportedly worked diligently to stop other analysts from performing the same tests and to discourage any citation to the study.

The controversy began when Troyer found two men who matched in nine of 13 locations of chromosomes. Since one of the men was black and one was white, the match was viewed as random. Troyer — who unlike her FBI counterparts wanted to confirm the validity of her work — did further tests and found dozens of other such matches. That is when the FBI laboratory started to discourage distribution of her results and tried to stop other labs from doing the same type of analysis on their data banks.

This should be the subject of an immediate congressional investigation. The FBI lab has previously been accused of shoddy work that borders on the criminally negligent, click here and here. Indeed, such disclosures have come with consistent regularity in 2000 and then 2003 and now in 2008.

Now, however, the FBI allegedly worked to prevent potentially exculpatory evidence from being released. If true, it could raise questions of appeal in hundreds of case and should certainly lead to some FBI officials being fired. It could also lead to questions of perjury or contempt if FBI officials failed to disclose these findings in relevant testimony.

For the full story, click here.

21 thoughts on “FBI Accused of Trying to Bury Findings That Raised Questions Over DNA Claims”

  1. Maybe some in Congress better get on the “pardon me” chain letters and not go overseas either. The thing is, I believe most people would at least sort of, forgive the first person involved who told the truth and said they were sorry (and not in a Novak sort of way) for all the harm they have caused.

  2. Raff,

    I think the motivation of some of the Dems for not investigating might have to do with stones and glass houses. There seems to be a disconnect between the party rhetoric and actions.

  3. Jill,
    I saw that Salon article and it is scary. I would love to see a commission set up to truly investigate the illegal spying that has gone on and is still going on, during the Bush regime. I just don’t know if the Dems will do it. It might mean that they would have to confront the Republicans. Whooo. Scary Republicans.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if we are all part of that 8 million Main Core list. I hope they have a flattering picture of me next to my name and private information. Formerly private information, I should say.

  4. Jill,

    I was wrong about “Bocca’s Brain.” It’s still a good read though. There’s probably a section on it in “The Science of Good and Evil,” I don’t own that one so I’m not positive, but even if it isn’t the book’s incredibly interesting.

  5. An article in Radar magazine in May, citing three unnamed former government officials, reported that “8 million Americans are now listed in Main Core as potentially suspect” and, in the event of a national emergency, “could be subject to everything from heightened surveillance and tracking to direct questioning and even detention.”

    The alleged use of Main Core by the Bush administration for surveillance, if confirmed to be true, would indicate a much deeper level of secretive government intrusion into Americans’ lives than has been previously known. With respect to civil liberties, says the ACLU’s Steinhardt, it would be “pretty frightening stuff.”

  6. Here’s an excerpt from the article above:

    According to several former U.S. government officials with extensive knowledge of intelligence operations, Main Core in its current incarnation apparently contains a vast amount of personal data on Americans, including NSA intercepts of bank and credit card transactions and the results of surveillance efforts by the FBI, the CIA and other agencies. One former intelligence official described Main Core as “an emergency internal security database system” designed for use by the military in the event of a national catastrophe, a suspension of the Constitution or the imposition of martial law. Its name, he says, is derived from the fact that it contains “copies of the ‘main core’ or essence of each item of intelligence information on Americans produced by the FBI and the other agencies of the U.S. intelligence community.”

  7. rafflaw,

    I’m not deliberately trying to piss you off, but I think the left is engaging in many of the things Gyges wrote about, and we need to stop it. I’ll stop harping on this now!


  8. Jill and Gyges,
    That is a very good example of why the Bush crowd wants to deny the science in just about anything that might adversely impact the corporations that keep this regime propped up.

  9. Thanks Gyges! Don’t have to worry about that press thing anymore, at least not too much.

  10. Jill,

    The best example I can think of off hand is a chapter in James Blish’s “Cities in Flight,” but I’m pretty sure that’s out of print. I think Orwell touches on it briefly in 1984. I’ve also got a hunch that Sagan deals with it in one of the essays in “Bocca’s Brain” I’ll try and remember to look tonight.

    The general argument is pretty easy to follow: Science works based on a philosophy of questioning everything. Not just asking “why” and “how” but asking “am I interpreting the data this way because it confirms what I want to be true?” It also involves questioning other’s results, no matter how far up the intellectual food chain they are. A fascist government needs the citizens to just do what they’re told and just to believe what the government says. Having a large group of people (in this case scientists) whose mode of thought involves routinely questioning everything would be very dangerous to them. It’s essentially the same reason that the Free Press is repressed.

  11. Gyges,

    If it’s easy to access, I’d be interested in learning about the connection you mentioned above. I could really see how that might be.


  12. Raff,

    I didn’t think you were. (See, if I had been talking to hear myself I would have said that verbally).

  13. Gyges,
    I wasn’t being critical, just trying to elaborate. You are absolutely correct about the beginning of a fascist state. If you look up the definition of fascism, we are closer than we might like to think.

  14. Raff,

    I figured both Jill and yourself had made that point better then I would, and I don’t generally talk to just hear my own voice.

    Also there’s a school of thought that the repressing of scientific research is an indication of the beginning of a fascist state.

  15. Gyges,
    I understand your muted surprise, but this is even more serious than just holding back scientific evidence. This is the government, under George W. Bush and the current Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, witholding exculpatory evidence that might save innocent people from going to jail That is serious stuff.

  16. So someone in the Bush administration is repressing scientific results? I’m shocked.

  17. This is an amazing case of the cover your ass syndrome. Prof. Turley is correct to say that this activity by the FBI hits at the heart of the criminal prosecution process. Wouldn’t there be additional criminal charges possible against the FBI individuals who ordered the systematic cover-up of exculpatory evidnce? Fraud comes to mind immediately. Being the political animal that I am, I would want to see how high up the FBI food chain this information and decision making went. Some heads should roll in this one. It calls into question any evidence presented by the FBI in future cases.

  18. Ms. Troyer’s actions are admirable. Although I understand CYA, too many times, various law enforcement agencies just want convictions. What purpose is served by detaining/imprisoning the innocent? It’s one thing to make a good faith mistake, something you would try to rectify. It’s quite another to consistently suppress evidence.

    I have been struck by authorities and their unquestioning supporters in these matters. So what if people in Gitmo are innocent. Why cares? So what if the wrong person is on death row or in prison? I have heard these sentiments many times. That lack of compassion is appalling. These ideas aren’t even practical.

    If you’re imprisoning the wrong people, dangerous people are left on the streets. If you have to go back and look at hundreds (or more) cases because your shoddy work was exposed, did that save money? Does that show what a great crime fighter you are?

    Honest people trying to work from the best evidence are worthy of respect. They would make people have faith in the rule of law. Convictions for the sake of self aggandizement or political purposes is not law enforcement and it certainly has nothing to do with justice.

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