Annie Dookham worked in a crime lab. She performed such shoddy work that the evidence in upwards of 40,000 narcotic cases has been put in doubt. When her malfeasance was first discovered in 2012, investigations and grand juries inquiries began. By 2014 a comprehensive investigative report issued and the Massachusetts court system took extraordinary steps to address the problems she created. Fortunately, no one was put on death row or executed because of her actions. Annie was sent to prison for 3 to 5 years in November 2013.
Few in Massachusetts have not heard of Annie. I had done a few blog posts on her which ended up with a couple of interviews by some of the media concerning her. Her wrongful actions filled the airwaves for days on end.
There is another laboratory scandal. One much worse than that of Annie. It is of national import while Annie’s only affected part of the state. Yet it receives little if any news coverage.
It is the FBI laboratory scandal wherein faulty evidence sent people to death row. While Massachusetts issued report after report and acted expeditiously to clear up its problem; the FBI has hunkered down hoping that the problem will go away.
One thing we know is that unlike in Massachusetts where some of the supervisors lost their jobs, no one in the FBI in a command position has even been reprimanded. As far as anyone going to prison for the enormous damage that has been caused, even suggesting it makes me smile. The FBI rolls along like the Mississippi River as if it is above the law. Unlike in Massachusetts where the drug laboratory was investigated by outside agencies, the FBI investigates itself.
It’s not surprising then to read that “from 1993 to early 2011, F.B.I. agents fatally shot about 70 “subjects” and wounded about 80 others — and every one of those episodes was deemed justified, . . .” The article went on to note that: “The last two years have followed the same pattern: an F.B.I. spokesman said that since 2011, there had been no findings of improper intentional shootings.”
Investigating oneself means covering up ones evils. Recall the first commandment of the FBI, “Don’t Embarrass The Family.” When that is its ultimate goal, all its investigations are undertaken to protect its reputation and not to find out the truth.
The underreported problems with the FBI laboratory go back to the early 1990s. Actually, who knows how far back they really go. We learned about the problems when Frederic Whitehurst who was employed in the FBI labs uncovered and reported scientific misconduct. For doing that his fellow agents turned on him and he was suspended from his job.
You know of Annie Dookham but not Fred Whitehurst. Whitehurst’s efforts led “to a scathing 500-page study of the laboratory by the Justice Department’s inspector general . . . .” And, the FBI had to pay 1.1 million dollars to settle a suit brought by Whitehurst.
But the FBI didn’t change its way of doing business. As I noted the other day, and as others in the news media are beginning to realize, there are a lot of people in prison who were sent there because of the FBI’s slothful and indifferent work.
Amy screwed up drug tests; the FBI got involved in putting out “flawed forensic evidence involving microscopic hair matches” that have been tracked to 2,600 cases including 45 death row cases. The FBI reviewed 160 of these cases then stopped its review. The results were quite embarrassing. Rather than seeking to undo any wrong, the FBI decided it was best to hide it, apparently deciding it was better for innocent people to be executed or imprisoned for life rather than fessing up to an error.
What actually happened is explained here. It noted “of ten percent of the cases reviewed so far, the “vast majority” contain errors”. The FBI’s errors could be more widespread since it taught the people working in state labs what to do. How many of those labs erred?
Further as the writer explained: “Yet hair analysis is just one of many forensic disciplines that hinge on using a microscope to visually compare two samples and declare a match. Ballistics, fibre analysis, tyre and shoeprint comparison and tool and bite-mark analysis all take a similar approach.” These methods were all criticized in a landmark report about forensic evidence in 2009.
I never believed the that the 100% record of justifiable shootings was correct especially after seeing how the FBI agent in the Todashev killing panicked and put more than six bullets in him. My one last hope about the FBI was that the labs were on the level. Now that is shattered.