This blog began in 2007, focusing on anthrax vaccine, and later expanded to other public health and political issues. The blog links to media reports, medical literature, official documents and other materials.
The FBI crime lab seems to have been run as an illegal enterprise to support desired convictions--evidence be damned--for decades. Maybe justice will now be served for some of those convicted as a result of FBI criminality.
This story didn't just come out. There was a Justice Department review years ago... which let the original prosecutors review their own evidence, to decide whether to share it with the defense! Would you have shared new evidence, when overturning your successful prosecutions could destroy your career?
Months after the Washington Post revealed that
lab technicians at the FBI mishandled evidence, resulting in at least three
wrongful convictions, the Department of Justice has announced it will review of
thousands of old cases.
The review, the largest in U.S. history, will focus on
work by FBI Laboratory hair and fiber examiners since at least 1985, the Post reported.
In April, the Post wrote about two men who were convicted
largely because of contaminated FBI hair analysis. A review of the evidence has
since resulted in the release of both men...
A reporter at the Post had been working on a story about
Donald Gates, a D.C. man released after DNA evidence
proved his innocence, when he learned about Frederic Whitehurst, an FBI lab
chemist who blew the whistle on the FBI Laboratory in the mid-1990s. Whitehurst
said he watched colleagues contaminate evidence and, in court, overstate the
significance of their matches...
After the first World Trade Center bombing, Whitehurst
testified that supervisors pressured him to concoct misleading scientific
reports. When he refused to testify that a urea nitrate bomb had been the
source of the explosion, the FBI found another lab technician to testify...
“You get patted on the head if you’re the guy who saves
the case,” Whitehurst said, explaining why agents would provide misleading
information. “They get promoted; they’re the guys everyone crowds around. It’s
a very tight family. A scientist who asks a question and doesn’t go along, he
Corrupt lab technicians
remained employed even after Whitehurst started speaking out about the lab,
said David Colapinto, general counsel for the National Whistleblowers Center...
As an agent, Whitehurst wrote
237 letters to the Inspector General, complaining about the lab. The longest
was 640 pages.
“The pressure was so crazy
that every so often, I’d just break down and cry,” he said.
The Justice Department
ultimately did review thousands of cases in response to Whitehurst's reports,
Colapinto said, but he said the task force assigned to investigate operated in
secret and the findings were not published. Rather, Colapinto said, prosecutors
who had originally tried those old cases decided whether the new evidence
should be disclosed to the defense.
Dissatisfied with the Justice
Department’s review, Whitehurst requested the task force's findings through the
Freedom of Information Act. Over several years, he received tens of thousands
of pages.Some changes were made, however. The FBI moved its lab from the FBI’s
J. Edgar Hoover building in Washington, D.C. to a separate building in
The National Academy of Sciences recently pushed for further independence, however. The organization, made
up of elite scientists from around the U.S., recommended the creation of an
independent federal agency to review evidence. That agency, ideally, should not
be connected to the academic community, the scientists said.
Whitehurst, now a forensic
consultant and a criminal defense lawyer in North Carolina, and the National
Whistleblowers Center worked with the Post for a year on the expose that came
out in April. That story apparently pushed the Justice Department to conduct
another, more transparent review of old evidence.
The Justice Department says
that this time, the review will include outsiders such as the Innocence
Project, according to The Associated Press. The Innocence Project, which
focuses on exonerating the wrongfully convicted, would watch over the
Meryl, enjoying spotting animals in the Thai jungle
Visiting tigers (inside the cages) in Chiang Mai
I think I'm in the wrong cage...
Night shot of a wild elephant
Canoodling at Elephant Nature Camp, Thailand
5 and 7 month olds playing
Mum and her 5 month old infant
Dusky Langur, curious about us humans in his territory
Self-satisfied Dusky Langur, after he relieved himself on me
Rhesus macaque: "I need three hands for this meal"
After swimming with dolphins at Key Largo, they checked me out at the edge of the pool
Visiting a Bhutanese Dzong, the regional seat of both government and religion (and a fort for good measure)
Why am I blogging?
Because life is meant to be lived! The left side of this blog has photos of some peak experiences. And the right side contains information about which I am passionate.
Too many peoples' lives are characterized by lack of authenticity, and fear of acknowledging and expressing their true nature. Employees cannot say what they think at work, and in the corporate system we must squish ourselves into square holes when we are round pegs. We thus lose touch with our souls, becoming cogs in a soulless, profit-driven machine.
The culture of political correctness has meant, in medicine, that we ignore how the foundations of our science are being undermined by commercialism. Clinical data generated or presented by the manufacturers of drugs, vaccines and devices cannot be trusted: there are hundreds of studies proving this. But this fraudulent information continues to be the only data informing the approval and use of vaccines, drugs and devices.
Unless scrupulous ethical conduct is demanded of physicians and biological scientists, our lack of meaningful standards will carry the medical-pharmaceutical system down the path of increasing irrelevance.
Medicine and its tools need to be affordable. The current medical-industrial milieu, characterized by contempt for science, countless ways for insiders to achieve wealth due to failure of good governance, and regulatory agency-to-industry revolving doors, has ushered in stratospheric pricing... further kicking us down that path to irrelevance.
Why is our new health care plan a giveaway to health industries instead of to health consumers? Wha won't it cover all Americans? Why was the "public option" never an option for the Obama administration?
So many of our leaders carry a heavy burden of mendacity and avarice. If they instead got in touch with their own souls (perhaps by exposure to the natural world), or made their decisions by maximizing the amount of good that results, our leaders might find real meaning and value in their lives.
Until that happens, the only way to straighten out the current mess is to demand accountability and impose penalties on unethical/dishonest leaders. Both political parties enjoy bounteous hors d'oeuvres from Pharma's table, making it unlikely the existing political "process" will provide relief--as we've seen in the demoralizing healthcare reform drama.
Until then, I'll continue to "call it as I see it" in this blog -- working and living the way life should be, in rural Maine, far from the centers of power.
Ellen Byrne has created several designs encapsulating aspects of the FBI's ridiculous case against Bruce Ivins. They can be purchased on T-shirts and coffee mugs. All proceeds will be donated to the the Frederick County chapter of the American Red Cross, a favored charity of Dr. Bruce Ivins.