Author Topic: The DNA/The FBI/DB Cooper...Whats The deal?  (Read 36886 times)

Offline Bruce A. Smith

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Re: The DNA/The FBI/DB Cooper...Whats The deal?
« Reply #180 on: December 11, 2015, 03:23:54 AM »
What would CODIS say? Hmmm, I don't know at this moment, as I am tip-toeing into the World OF DNA Analysis.

But, since I'm learning the basics, I thought it might be best to share what I'm discovering as I go along.

1. What is CODIS?
CODIS is an acronym for COmbined Dna Index System. The website for the FBI Crime Lab says that CODIS is the "codename for the FBI's program of support of criminal justice databases." To me, that means that CODIS is the Big Kahuna of DNA databanks, coupled with the computer software to handle all the request for matches, information, profile analysis, etc.


2. What is NDIS?
NDIS is another acronym that pops up on DNA websites, and NDIS stands for Natioanl Dna Index System. NDIS is part of CODIS, and it seems to be the core of the system. Specifically, NDIS is the databank of DNA profiles.


3. DNA Analysis
The DNA analyzing department is part of the Biometrics Division of the FBI Crime Lab, which has a couple dozen separate divisions, like fingerprinting, bomb residues, and gun stuff.


4. Missing Persons
Interestingly, the FBI's Missing Person section is part of the Biometrics Division, and is heavily connected to DNA profiling. Hence, the National Missing Persons DNA Database (NMPDD) is part of NDIS.
 

georger

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Re: The DNA/The FBI/DB Cooper...Whats The deal?
« Reply #181 on: December 11, 2015, 04:06:02 AM »
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What would CODIS say? Hmmm, I don't know at this moment, as I am tip-toeing into the World OF DNA Analysis.

But, since I'm learning the basics, I thought it might be best to share what I'm discovering as I go along.

1. What is CODIS?
CODIS is an acronym for COmbined Dna Index System. The website for the FBI Crime Lab says that CODIS is the "codename for the FBI's program of support of criminal justice databases." To me, that means that CODIS is the Big Kahuna of DNA databanks, coupled with the computer software to handle all the request for matches, information, profile analysis, etc.


2. What is NDIS?
NDIS is another acronym that pops up on DNA websites, and NDIS stands for Natioanl Dna Index System. NDIS is part of CODIS, and it seems to be the core of the system. Specifically, NDIS is the databank of DNA profiles.


3. DNA Analysis
The DNA analyzing department is part of the Biometrics Division of the FBI Crime Lab, which has a couple dozen separate divisions, like fingerprinting, bomb residues, and gun stuff.


4. Missing Persons
Interestingly, the FBI's Missing Person section is part of the Biometrics Division, and is heavily connected to DNA profiling. Hence, the National Missing Persons DNA Database (NMPDD) is part of NDIS.
What would the partial CODIS profile the FBI says it has, tell us about Cooper's physical traits?

Well I will save you years of guessing: the answer is 'nothing'. AMEL the gender loci, if it is there, would tell you the sex.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2015, 04:07:00 AM by georger »
 

Offline Bruce A. Smith

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Re: The DNA/The FBI/DB Cooper...Whats The deal?
« Reply #182 on: December 11, 2015, 03:47:39 PM »
AMEL means male or female, eh? See, I'm feeling smarter already!  Thanks, G.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2015, 03:48:39 PM by Bruce A. Smith »
 

georger

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Re: The DNA/The FBI/DB Cooper...Whats The deal?
« Reply #183 on: December 11, 2015, 11:30:54 PM »
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AMEL means male or female, eh? See, I'm feeling smarter already!  Thanks, G.

There's a ton of info on the internet - just takes time to absorb.
 

Offline Bruce A. Smith

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Re: The DNA/The FBI/DB Cooper...Whats The deal?
« Reply #184 on: December 12, 2015, 07:18:55 PM »
DNA getting complicated

The inquiry into DB Cooper's DNA is leading to lots of other issues, such as the Bureau's unsavory actions at the National Crime Lab. In the mid-1990s the DoJ started an 18-month investigation of the National Crime Lab due to ten years worth of accusations from Supervising Special Agent Dr. Frederic Whitehurst, who also has a Ph.D. in Chemistry. He charged systemic wrongdoing at the lab, such as evidence tampering, lying to the courts when testifying, falsifying reports, chronic lack of proper documentation, lousy supervision, and a prevailing conflict of interest as lab techs were special agents and not trained in the sciences, so their main mission was to get convictions as opposed to discovering the truth.

The Inspector General at the DOJ found no criminal wrongdoing, (!) but confirmed Whitehurst's allegations. An oversight panel began implementing 40 recommendations for improvements, but Whitehurst got demoted and transferred. In 2000 or so he won a $1.8 million judgment against the FBI for their nasty behavior.

Congress couldn't stand the stench, either, so their formed their own investigation in 1998, but got stonewalled by the FBI, which ultimately got a bigger budget so they could fix things at the lab.

Whitehurst went on to develop the National Whistleblowers Center and the Forensic Justice Project, to "find out who got hurt" with all the forensic fraud the FBI perpetrated.

Currently, hundreds of cases have been overturned due to FBI malfeasance.

Into this mix, our 8 cigarette butts got thrown. Wowzer, eh?

Fidelity, Bravery and Integrity. Yup.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2015, 08:27:27 PM by Bruce A. Smith »
 

georger

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Re: The DNA/The FBI/DB Cooper...Whats The deal?
« Reply #185 on: December 13, 2015, 12:17:58 AM »
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DNA getting complicated

The inquiry into DB Cooper's DNA is leading to lots of other issues, such as the Bureau's unsavory actions at the National Crime Lab. In the mid-1990s the DoJ started an 18-month investigation of the National Crime Lab due to ten years worth of accusations from Supervising Special Agent Dr. Frederic Whitehurst, who also has a Ph.D. in Chemistry. He charged systemic wrongdoing at the lab, such as evidence tampering, lying to the courts when testifying, falsifying reports, chronic lack of proper documentation, lousy supervision, and a prevailing conflict of interest as lab techs were special agents and not trained in the sciences, so their main mission was to get convictions as opposed to discovering the truth.

The Inspector General at the DOJ found no criminal wrongdoing, (!) but confirmed Whitehurst's allegations. An oversight panel began implementing 40 recommendations for improvements, but Whitehurst got demoted and transferred. In 2000 or so he won a $1.8 million judgment against the FBI for their nasty behavior.

Congress couldn't stand the stench, either, so their formed their own investigation in 1998, but got stonewalled by the FBI, which ultimately got a bigger budget so they could fix things at the lab.

Whitehurst went on to develop the National Whistleblowers Center and the Forensic Justice Project, to "find out who got hurt" with all the forensic fraud the FBI perpetrated.

Currently, hundreds of cases have been overturned due to FBI malfeasance.

Into this mix, our 8 cigarette butts got thrown. Wowzer, eh?

Fidelity, Bravery and Integrity. Yup.

All in your opinion, of course! WOWZER? EH?  :(  We all know you are a Conspiracy Theory Guy... like Blevins and Weber.  :D  You havent shown the slightest connection between yours above and the DB Cooper case but given your bias it doesn't prevent you pushing this cow down the road! 
« Last Edit: December 13, 2015, 12:31:02 AM by georger »
 

Offline Bruce A. Smith

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Re: The DNA/The FBI/DB Cooper...Whats The deal?
« Reply #186 on: December 13, 2015, 03:52:22 AM »
Georger, you don't see any connection between the catastrophe at the FBI's National Crime Lab and the stuff that happened with Norjak evidence?

Really?

Our eight cigarette butts went missing at the same time the Inspector general of the DOJ was saying the National Lab was subject to poor documentation, incompetent examiners, lying and deceptive practices in the lab and on the witness stand?

And then the US Congress had to get involved?

Your answer to all of that is that I'm a conspiracy nut?

You serious?
« Last Edit: December 13, 2015, 03:52:48 AM by Bruce A. Smith »
 

Offline Bruce A. Smith

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Re: The DNA/The FBI/DB Cooper...Whats The deal?
« Reply #187 on: December 13, 2015, 06:18:30 PM »
DNA, Update

Here is a draft of my latest findings on DNA. I invite comments and suggestions:

Chapter 16

Emergence of DNA as a forensic tool


One of the primary dynamics fueling the resurgence of the Cooper case has been the widespread use of DNA to evaluate suspects. Developed initially in the 1980s, DNA analysis was in full swing by the late 1990s, and with it came the ability to trump Cooper’s careful efforts to mask his identity. In essence, DNA testing has re-opened the case, and the FBI has re-examined its top Cooper suspects.

However, the DNA in Norjak is suspect, as not all sources of DNA are equal. Apparently, the best samples come from bodily fluids, such as saliva, which should be available from the eight cigarette butts retrieved in Reno. Next are skin tissues, such as epithelial cells. Last are hair samples, which were reported obtained from the head-rest cloth of seat 18-E. However, it is unknown if any hair samples have been tested for DNA.

But finding appropriate physical samples to be sources for Cooper's DNA is problematic. Carr confirmed that the eight cigarette butts are now missing. In addition, Carr has acknowledged that he and the Seattle FO never had possession of them, and that the cigarettes had been stored in the Las Vegas FO. Why Carr and other Norjak case agents in Seattle did not have absolute authority to gather all pertinent evidence from all FBI field offices has never been explained. Nevertheless, the best source for DB Cooper's DNA is now officially missing.

But, were they ever tested for DNA? Carr posted a cryptic message at the DropZone on December 18, 2007 that suggests they might have been. Carr stated that the FBI had possession of the cigarettes for at least a period of time and had “processed” them. Does that mean analyzed? Carr isn't available to clarify this, but his post at the DZ was in response to a question from 377 and Smokin99 about the fate of the cigarette butts:
      
   “Still looking for the cigarettes, after they were processed in the lab they were sent back to the field. So they are somewhere between Washington,DC and Seattle or disposed of.”

Nevertheless in 2008, Cooper case agent Larry Carr told me that epithelial cells found on the clasp of the clip-on tie were being used to extract the DNA to compare Cooper suspects. Carr also acknowledged that the skin samples on the clasp could be DB Cooper’s, or any number of people who have handled the tie since the recovery in Reno.

        “The DNA could be Cooper’s, or not,” Carr told me, acknowledging the unreliably of this sample. In fact, Carr posted the disturbing truth at the DZ on December 13, 2007, “Yes, there were multiple male donors on the tie.”

Adding more concern to the chain of custody issue of whose epithelial cells are on the clasp, the tie was four days late to Seattle, held somewhere by somebody over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The leading suspect for this gaff is Las Vegas SAC Red Campbell, who led the evidence retrieval team in Reno.

Carr also told me that the DNA sample the FBI had from the epithelial cells was a “partial,” and could only be used to rule-out suspects, not necessarily prove DB Cooper's identity. This element of “partiality” remains a controversial aspect of Norjak. Specifically, how partial is the sample, and what are the exact limitations of the sample?

Additionally, the information from the Formans puts this dilemma into an even darker light—the best DNA samples went missing just as their contributions were called upon to solve the case. The Formans also say the FBI did have the Reno cigarette butts, based upon a TV news broadcast they viewed in 2001 or 2202, which described how the FBI had profiled Cooper’s DNA derived from dried saliva. The Formans say they learned this from the NBC Seattle affiliate, KING-5 nightly news, reportedly delivered by Dennis Bounds, their longtime news anchor. Here is one of several emails the Formans sent to me on this subject:

        “The KING 5 news story we heard was before 2003. We both remember Dennis Bounds reporting that the FBI now had DNA from the Raleigh cigarettes. We remember it because we were excited that we could finally prove that Barb was Cooper. Barb was still alive at the time. We also saw articles back then about the FBI doing comparisons to the DNA from the Raleigh cigarettes.
       “We apparently missed the 2003 story that the cigarettes were lost and there was a partial from the tie. We found out about that much after 2003.”

To confirm the Formans' story I enlisted the help of “Linda” at KING TV, who searched the stations' archives. She found nothing on the cigarette butts, but recommended that I also contact KIRO TV, as the two stations are often confused for each other. Hence, I spoke with a “Sharon” at KIRO, who diligently searched her archives but could only access back to 2004.

I also contacted Chris Ingalls, a long-time KING TV news reporter who has covered the DB Cooper case in-depth. He graciously responded to my request for clarification on what he knew about Norjak DNA:
   
   “I’ve spoken with Dennis Bounds. He’s our main news anchor, and he has not produced any DB Cooper stories. However, he introduced several of the stories that I reported – so that may be where the confusion lies.
   “The bottom line is that we have not reported that saliva was taken from the cigarette butts. In 2003, I reported that a weak sample of DNA was retrieved from Cooper and it was now considered somewhat usable for ruling out a suspect. In 2007, I reported that Agent Carr said that this DNA came from the tie clasp and tie clip recovered on the plane.
   “I don’t know that I ever reported it – but I have been told by at least a couple of FBI agents that the cigarette butts were lost at some point.”
   
Yet, the possibility of TV broadcast on DNA from cigarette butts suggests that the FBI had developed a press release to assist journalists in developing their story.

Further, the Formans heard the broadcast just as they were beginning the research on their Barb Dayton book, so they fully expected that the documentation would be available to them as investigators. Hence, they were shocked in 2006 when Special Agent Jeremy Blauser told them that it wasn’t, which suggests that the possible documentation on the cigarette saliva DNA tests is also missing.

I sought the assistance of Seattle PIO Ayn Dietrich-Williams in locating any FBI press releases that could confirm the testing of saliva from the cigarettes. However, her answer not only set new levels for opaqueness, she officially slammed the door on any future efforts to assist open-sourced journalists investigating Norjak:   

   “ I’m sorry to disappoint you, yet again, but it would not be appropriate at this time for me to provide details about the investigation. As you are aware, there was a time when the FBI’s Seattle Division answered media questions and proactively sought coverage. At that time, the FBI thought it might be beneficial to the investigation to share information publicly.
   “The FBI’s (current) media policy prohibits discussing ongoing investigations unless a release is specifically thought to have potential benefit to the investigation. Following further investigative efforts, the FBI in the fall of 2011 determined that media coverage of the case was more detrimental than helpful. We’ve found that media coverage generates considerable new interest, which is not proportional to where we are in allocating resources to this investigation.
   “I understand your continued interest in our investigation and apologize that I will not be able to share additional information to answer your questions.”

So, the cigarettes remain a mystery, and apparently will remain so until a breakthrough occurs at the FBI. But related questions linger: is anyone looking for the cigarette butts, and if not, why not? Plus, where is the paper work that surely was developed when the cigarette butts were tested? In effect, we have two major missing pieces of evidence—the cigarette butts and its documentation.

Fortunately, these inquiries have given us confirmation that Larry Carr told another news reporter the FBI had obtained DNA samples from the tie and clasp, and those elements are sufficient for the FBI to advance the hunt for DB Cooper.

Unfortunately, these investigatory kerfuffles exist in a larger environment of questionable practices at the FBI's Forensic Science Research and Training Center in Quantico, Virginia and its crime lab at its Washington, DC headquarters.

In the mid-1990s, the FBI's National Crime Laboratory (NCL) was subjected to an 18-month investigation by the Inspector General of the Department of Justice, triggered by a decade's worth of allegations and persistent whistleblowing by one of the NCL's former supervising agents, Dr. Frederic Whitehurst.

Beginning in 1986, Whitehurst charged that the NCL was compromised by corruption, incompetence, and conflicts of interest—most notably the hiring of special agents without scientific degrees to do lab investigations, thereby insuring a prosecutorial bias. At its worst, though, Whitehurst charged that the lab had falsified, altered or suppressed evidence in thousands of case.

In April 1997, the Inspector General released a 517-page report of its investigation, and according to the New York Times it confirmed Whitehurst's assertions of “testimonial errors, substandard analytical work and poor practices at the lab's chemistry-toxicology, explosives and material analysis units.”

But it found no criminal wrongdoing. Nevertheless, an oversight panel recommended forty changes for the laboratory.  Since the IG's report only examined three of the FBI's 21 lab divisions and confined itself primarily to Dr. Whitehurst's allegations,  the US Congress launched its own investigation: "A Review of the FBI Laboratory: Beyond the Inspector General's Report."

The findings are shocking. Decades later, convictions are reportedly still being overturned due to the evidentiary errors revealed by this process. The Atlantic Magazine published a review of the Washington Post's investigation of the IG's findings, stating:    

   "Nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000," the newspaper reported, adding that 'the cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death.'
   "The article notes that the admissions from the FBI and Department of Justice 'confirm long-suspected problems with subjective, pattern-based forensic techniques—like hair and bite-mark comparisons—that have contributed to wrongful convictions in more than one-quarter of 329 DNA-exoneration cases since 1989.'"

PBS-TV broadcast a special documentary on these travesties, and the chief producer, John F Kelly, in conjunction with Phillip K Wearne, wrote a book about his discoveries: Tainting Evidence—Inside the Scandals at the FBI's Crime Lab. Below is one example of how egregious an FBI agent performed at the National Crime Lab—the infamous Special Agent Thomas N Curran:

   “In February 1975, an internal FBI investigation into the activities of Special Agent Thomas N. Curran, an examiner in the FBI lab's serology unit, revealed a staggering record of perjury, incompetence and falsification.
   “At the trial of Thomas Doepel for rape and murder in Washington, D.C. in 1974, Curran testified under oath that he had a bachelor and masters degree in science, that both Doepel and the victim were blood type O and that the defendant's shorts bore a single bloodstain. In reality, Curran had no degree in anything; Doepel, on re-testing, turned out to be blood type B; and the shorts evidenced two, not one blood stain.”

Further, Kelly and Wearne show that these kinds of problems at the Crime Lab were widespread and ignored by supervisors:

   “Curran's aberrations...were systemic. Curran had issued reports of blood analyses when "no laboratory tests were done"; had relied on presumptive tests to draw up confirmatory results and written up inadequate and deceptive lab reports, ignoring or distorting tests results.
   “'The real issue is that he chose to ignore the virtue of integrity and to lie when asked if specific tests were conducted,' concluded Cochran's report to the then head of the FBI laboratory, Dr. Briggs White.
   “It was an early warning of what could happen at the FBI lab. Tom Curran turned out to have lied repeatedly under oath about his credentials and his reports were persistently deceptive, yet no one, FBI lab management, defense lawyers, judges, had noticed. When they did, there was no prosecution for perjury.”

Kelly and Wearne also reveal that the biggest and most persistent problem at the FBI's crime lab has been documentation. Perhaps it's the culture of cops working as forensic scientists and focused on convictions rather than truth. Nevertheless, it has a direct connection to the on-going issue with the cigarette butts and DB Cooper's DNA. Kelly and Wearne state:

   “Documentation is a case in point. Examiners have proved remarkably loath to write up their bench notes in any adequate scientific manner. No names, no chain of custody history, no testing chronology, no details of supervisory oversight, no confirmatory tests, no signatures—such omissions are quite normal in FBI lab reports.
   “What they do contain is obfuscation and overstated conclusions written in an often-incomprehensible style that some experts have termed 'forensonics.' Terms like 'match' or 'consistent with' are common; chronicled scientific procedures and protocols to justify them are not.”

Another issue that Kelly and Wearne address is the insufficient effort given by the FBI to  preserve its evidence, and a systemwide failure to insure adequate protection of the rights of the accused, including irresponsible inaction by the Supreme Court.

   “An obligation to preserve evidence would seem to be at the heart of the Brady decision, (the ruling by the Supreme Court that a defendant has the right to evidence that can show their innocence.) If evidence, specimens, reports, or bench notes are destroyed or discarded, how can anyone determine what was exculpatory? But on two separate occasions the Supreme Court has declined to interpret the Brady ruling as including a duty to preserve evidence. Startling amounts of evidence – bullets, blood samples, hair—are routinely trashed at the FBI and other crime labs.
   “...At the FBI lab, an even larger amount of paperwork -- reports, bench notes and charts -- has been lost in a filing and record retention system no one, including management, seems to be able to rely on.”

Hence, the loss of DB Cooper's cigarette butts seems in line with how criminal evidence in the United States is often handled, even by the FBI.

Competency at the FBI Crime Lab, and elsewhere in the nation's 400 state and local crime labs, is also highly suspect. Kelly and Wearne reveal that proficiency exams and national certification boards for the forensic sciences are determining that professional expertise is highly variable. In fact, up to 20% of evidence has been shown to be misidentified at the local and national level, as indicated in a recent survey of fingerprinting experts:
   
       “In...more than one-in-five instances 'damning evidence would have been presented against the wrong person' noted David Grieve, editor of the fingerprinters' magazine, The Journal of Forensic Identification.
   “Worse still, examiners knew they were being tested and were thus presumably more careful and freer from law enforcement pressures.       
   “Calling for immediate action, David Grieve concluded: 'If one-in-five latent fingerprint examiners truly possesses knowledge, skill or ability at a level below an acceptable and understood baseline, then the entire profession is in jeopardy.'
   “The same must be true of every suspect in the country, the vast majority of whom never get a fingerprint expert onto their defense team or any chance of a re-examination. Many crime laboratories routinely destroy fingerprint evidence.”

Perhaps the greatest example of evidentiary malfeasance regarding DNA is the impact of the Innocence Project. Since its founding in 1992, the Innocence Project has used DNA analysis to exonerate over 300 individuals wrongfully convicted, including twenty from Death Row. The Innocence Project estimates that half of those convictions overturned were due to “unvalidated or improper forensic science,” such as hair microscopy or bite-mark comparisons.

Of course, these acts of injustice occurred nationwide in state and local prisons besides federal penitentiaries, but such a broad view gives us a deeper appreciation of what may have happened to the physical evidence in Norjak.



« Last Edit: December 13, 2015, 06:26:18 PM by Bruce A. Smith »
 

georger

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Re: The DNA/The FBI/DB Cooper...Whats The deal?
« Reply #188 on: December 14, 2015, 12:18:27 AM »
You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login
DNA, Update

Here is a draft of my latest findings on DNA. I invite comments and suggestions:

Chapter 16

Emergence of DNA as a forensic tool


One of the primary dynamics fueling the resurgence of the Cooper case has been the widespread use of DNA to evaluate suspects. Developed initially in the 1980s, DNA analysis was in full swing by the late 1990s, and with it came the ability to trump Cooper’s careful efforts to mask his identity. In essence, DNA testing has re-opened the case, and the FBI has re-examined its top Cooper suspects.

However, the DNA in Norjak is suspect, as not all sources of DNA are equal. Apparently, the best samples come from bodily fluids, such as saliva, which should be available from the eight cigarette butts retrieved in Reno. Next are skin tissues, such as epithelial cells. Last are hair samples, which were reported obtained from the head-rest cloth of seat 18-E. However, it is unknown if any hair samples have been tested for DNA.

But finding appropriate physical samples to be sources for Cooper's DNA is problematic. Carr confirmed that the eight cigarette butts are now missing. In addition, Carr has acknowledged that he and the Seattle FO never had possession of them, and that the cigarettes had been stored in the Las Vegas FO. Why Carr and other Norjak case agents in Seattle did not have absolute authority to gather all pertinent evidence from all FBI field offices has never been explained. Nevertheless, the best source for DB Cooper's DNA is now officially missing.

But, were they ever tested for DNA? Carr posted a cryptic message at the DropZone on December 18, 2007 that suggests they might have been. Carr stated that the FBI had possession of the cigarettes for at least a period of time and had “processed” them. Does that mean analyzed? Carr isn't available to clarify this, but his post at the DZ was in response to a question from 377 and Smokin99 about the fate of the cigarette butts:
      
   “Still looking for the cigarettes, after they were processed in the lab they were sent back to the field. So they are somewhere between Washington,DC and Seattle or disposed of.”

Nevertheless in 2008, Cooper case agent Larry Carr told me that epithelial cells found on the clasp of the clip-on tie were being used to extract the DNA to compare Cooper suspects. Carr also acknowledged that the skin samples on the clasp could be DB Cooper’s, or any number of people who have handled the tie since the recovery in Reno.

        “The DNA could be Cooper’s, or not,” Carr told me, acknowledging the unreliably of this sample. In fact, Carr posted the disturbing truth at the DZ on December 13, 2007, “Yes, there were multiple male donors on the tie.”

Adding more concern to the chain of custody issue of whose epithelial cells are on the clasp, the tie was four days late to Seattle, held somewhere by somebody over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The leading suspect for this gaff is Las Vegas SAC Red Campbell, who led the evidence retrieval team in Reno.

Carr also told me that the DNA sample the FBI had from the epithelial cells was a “partial,” and could only be used to rule-out suspects, not necessarily prove DB Cooper's identity. This element of “partiality” remains a controversial aspect of Norjak. Specifically, how partial is the sample, and what are the exact limitations of the sample?

Additionally, the information from the Formans puts this dilemma into an even darker light—the best DNA samples went missing just as their contributions were called upon to solve the case. The Formans also say the FBI did have the Reno cigarette butts, based upon a TV news broadcast they viewed in 2001 or 2202, which described how the FBI had profiled Cooper’s DNA derived from dried saliva. The Formans say they learned this from the NBC Seattle affiliate, KING-5 nightly news, reportedly delivered by Dennis Bounds, their longtime news anchor. Here is one of several emails the Formans sent to me on this subject:

        “The KING 5 news story we heard was before 2003. We both remember Dennis Bounds reporting that the FBI now had DNA from the Raleigh cigarettes. We remember it because we were excited that we could finally prove that Barb was Cooper. Barb was still alive at the time. We also saw articles back then about the FBI doing comparisons to the DNA from the Raleigh cigarettes.
       “We apparently missed the 2003 story that the cigarettes were lost and there was a partial from the tie. We found out about that much after 2003.”

To confirm the Formans' story I enlisted the help of “Linda” at KING TV, who searched the stations' archives. She found nothing on the cigarette butts, but recommended that I also contact KIRO TV, as the two stations are often confused for each other. Hence, I spoke with a “Sharon” at KIRO, who diligently searched her archives but could only access back to 2004.

I also contacted Chris Ingalls, a long-time KING TV news reporter who has covered the DB Cooper case in-depth. He graciously responded to my request for clarification on what he knew about Norjak DNA:
   
   “I’ve spoken with Dennis Bounds. He’s our main news anchor, and he has not produced any DB Cooper stories. However, he introduced several of the stories that I reported – so that may be where the confusion lies.
   “The bottom line is that we have not reported that saliva was taken from the cigarette butts. In 2003, I reported that a weak sample of DNA was retrieved from Cooper and it was now considered somewhat usable for ruling out a suspect. In 2007, I reported that Agent Carr said that this DNA came from the tie clasp and tie clip recovered on the plane.
   “I don’t know that I ever reported it – but I have been told by at least a couple of FBI agents that the cigarette butts were lost at some point.”
   
Yet, the possibility of TV broadcast on DNA from cigarette butts suggests that the FBI had developed a press release to assist journalists in developing their story.

Further, the Formans heard the broadcast just as they were beginning the research on their Barb Dayton book, so they fully expected that the documentation would be available to them as investigators. Hence, they were shocked in 2006 when Special Agent Jeremy Blauser told them that it wasn’t, which suggests that the possible documentation on the cigarette saliva DNA tests is also missing.

I sought the assistance of Seattle PIO Ayn Dietrich-Williams in locating any FBI press releases that could confirm the testing of saliva from the cigarettes. However, her answer not only set new levels for opaqueness, she officially slammed the door on any future efforts to assist open-sourced journalists investigating Norjak:   

   “ I’m sorry to disappoint you, yet again, but it would not be appropriate at this time for me to provide details about the investigation. As you are aware, there was a time when the FBI’s Seattle Division answered media questions and proactively sought coverage. At that time, the FBI thought it might be beneficial to the investigation to share information publicly.
   “The FBI’s (current) media policy prohibits discussing ongoing investigations unless a release is specifically thought to have potential benefit to the investigation. Following further investigative efforts, the FBI in the fall of 2011 determined that media coverage of the case was more detrimental than helpful. We’ve found that media coverage generates considerable new interest, which is not proportional to where we are in allocating resources to this investigation.
   “I understand your continued interest in our investigation and apologize that I will not be able to share additional information to answer your questions.”

So, the cigarettes remain a mystery, and apparently will remain so until a breakthrough occurs at the FBI. But related questions linger: is anyone looking for the cigarette butts, and if not, why not? Plus, where is the paper work that surely was developed when the cigarette butts were tested? In effect, we have two major missing pieces of evidence—the cigarette butts and its documentation.

Fortunately, these inquiries have given us confirmation that Larry Carr told another news reporter the FBI had obtained DNA samples from the tie and clasp, and those elements are sufficient for the FBI to advance the hunt for DB Cooper.

Unfortunately, these investigatory kerfuffles exist in a larger environment of questionable practices at the FBI's Forensic Science Research and Training Center in Quantico, Virginia and its crime lab at its Washington, DC headquarters.

In the mid-1990s, the FBI's National Crime Laboratory (NCL) was subjected to an 18-month investigation by the Inspector General of the Department of Justice, triggered by a decade's worth of allegations and persistent whistleblowing by one of the NCL's former supervising agents, Dr. Frederic Whitehurst.

Beginning in 1986, Whitehurst charged that the NCL was compromised by corruption, incompetence, and conflicts of interest—most notably the hiring of special agents without scientific degrees to do lab investigations, thereby insuring a prosecutorial bias. At its worst, though, Whitehurst charged that the lab had falsified, altered or suppressed evidence in thousands of case.

In April 1997, the Inspector General released a 517-page report of its investigation, and according to the New York Times it confirmed Whitehurst's assertions of “testimonial errors, substandard analytical work and poor practices at the lab's chemistry-toxicology, explosives and material analysis units.”

But it found no criminal wrongdoing. Nevertheless, an oversight panel recommended forty changes for the laboratory.  Since the IG's report only examined three of the FBI's 21 lab divisions and confined itself primarily to Dr. Whitehurst's allegations,  the US Congress launched its own investigation: "A Review of the FBI Laboratory: Beyond the Inspector General's Report."

The findings are shocking. Decades later, convictions are reportedly still being overturned due to the evidentiary errors revealed by this process. The Atlantic Magazine published a review of the Washington Post's investigation of the IG's findings, stating:    

   "Nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000," the newspaper reported, adding that 'the cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death.'
   "The article notes that the admissions from the FBI and Department of Justice 'confirm long-suspected problems with subjective, pattern-based forensic techniques—like hair and bite-mark comparisons—that have contributed to wrongful convictions in more than one-quarter of 329 DNA-exoneration cases since 1989.'"

PBS-TV broadcast a special documentary on these travesties, and the chief producer, John F Kelly, in conjunction with Phillip K Wearne, wrote a book about his discoveries: Tainting Evidence—Inside the Scandals at the FBI's Crime Lab. Below is one example of how egregious an FBI agent performed at the National Crime Lab—the infamous Special Agent Thomas N Curran:

   “In February 1975, an internal FBI investigation into the activities of Special Agent Thomas N. Curran, an examiner in the FBI lab's serology unit, revealed a staggering record of perjury, incompetence and falsification.
   “At the trial of Thomas Doepel for rape and murder in Washington, D.C. in 1974, Curran testified under oath that he had a bachelor and masters degree in science, that both Doepel and the victim were blood type O and that the defendant's shorts bore a single bloodstain. In reality, Curran had no degree in anything; Doepel, on re-testing, turned out to be blood type B; and the shorts evidenced two, not one blood stain.”

Further, Kelly and Wearne show that these kinds of problems at the Crime Lab were widespread and ignored by supervisors:

   “Curran's aberrations...were systemic. Curran had issued reports of blood analyses when "no laboratory tests were done"; had relied on presumptive tests to draw up confirmatory results and written up inadequate and deceptive lab reports, ignoring or distorting tests results.
   “'The real issue is that he chose to ignore the virtue of integrity and to lie when asked if specific tests were conducted,' concluded Cochran's report to the then head of the FBI laboratory, Dr. Briggs White.
   “It was an early warning of what could happen at the FBI lab. Tom Curran turned out to have lied repeatedly under oath about his credentials and his reports were persistently deceptive, yet no one, FBI lab management, defense lawyers, judges, had noticed. When they did, there was no prosecution for perjury.”

Kelly and Wearne also reveal that the biggest and most persistent problem at the FBI's crime lab has been documentation. Perhaps it's the culture of cops working as forensic scientists and focused on convictions rather than truth. Nevertheless, it has a direct connection to the on-going issue with the cigarette butts and DB Cooper's DNA. Kelly and Wearne state:

   “Documentation is a case in point. Examiners have proved remarkably loath to write up their bench notes in any adequate scientific manner. No names, no chain of custody history, no testing chronology, no details of supervisory oversight, no confirmatory tests, no signatures—such omissions are quite normal in FBI lab reports.
   “What they do contain is obfuscation and overstated conclusions written in an often-incomprehensible style that some experts have termed 'forensonics.' Terms like 'match' or 'consistent with' are common; chronicled scientific procedures and protocols to justify them are not.”

Another issue that Kelly and Wearne address is the insufficient effort given by the FBI to  preserve its evidence, and a systemwide failure to insure adequate protection of the rights of the accused, including irresponsible inaction by the Supreme Court.

   “An obligation to preserve evidence would seem to be at the heart of the Brady decision, (the ruling by the Supreme Court that a defendant has the right to evidence that can show their innocence.) If evidence, specimens, reports, or bench notes are destroyed or discarded, how can anyone determine what was exculpatory? But on two separate occasions the Supreme Court has declined to interpret the Brady ruling as including a duty to preserve evidence. Startling amounts of evidence – bullets, blood samples, hair—are routinely trashed at the FBI and other crime labs.
   “...At the FBI lab, an even larger amount of paperwork -- reports, bench notes and charts -- has been lost in a filing and record retention system no one, including management, seems to be able to rely on.”

Hence, the loss of DB Cooper's cigarette butts seems in line with how criminal evidence in the United States is often handled, even by the FBI.

Competency at the FBI Crime Lab, and elsewhere in the nation's 400 state and local crime labs, is also highly suspect. Kelly and Wearne reveal that proficiency exams and national certification boards for the forensic sciences are determining that professional expertise is highly variable. In fact, up to 20% of evidence has been shown to be misidentified at the local and national level, as indicated in a recent survey of fingerprinting experts:
   
       “In...more than one-in-five instances 'damning evidence would have been presented against the wrong person' noted David Grieve, editor of the fingerprinters' magazine, The Journal of Forensic Identification.
   “Worse still, examiners knew they were being tested and were thus presumably more careful and freer from law enforcement pressures.       
   “Calling for immediate action, David Grieve concluded: 'If one-in-five latent fingerprint examiners truly possesses knowledge, skill or ability at a level below an acceptable and understood baseline, then the entire profession is in jeopardy.'
   “The same must be true of every suspect in the country, the vast majority of whom never get a fingerprint expert onto their defense team or any chance of a re-examination. Many crime laboratories routinely destroy fingerprint evidence.”

Perhaps the greatest example of evidentiary malfeasance regarding DNA is the impact of the Innocence Project. Since its founding in 1992, the Innocence Project has used DNA analysis to exonerate over 300 individuals wrongfully convicted, including twenty from Death Row. The Innocence Project estimates that half of those convictions overturned were due to “unvalidated or improper forensic science,” such as hair microscopy or bite-mark comparisons.

Of course, these acts of injustice occurred nationwide in state and local prisons besides federal penitentiaries, but such a broad view gives us a deeper appreciation of what may have happened to the physical evidence in Norjak.

Yours may be the single longest question ever constructed ...in the English language. You might consider checking with Guinness World Records; or at Alcoholics Anonymous ?   ;D

Just get rid of the periods and join it all together in one sentence, which it basically is.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2015, 12:24:10 AM by georger »
 

Offline Bruce A. Smith

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Re: The DNA/The FBI/DB Cooper...Whats The deal?
« Reply #189 on: December 16, 2015, 03:38:55 AM »
Dr. Frederic Whitehurst

I spoke with Fred Whitehurst yesterday for an extensive period of time. Fascinating guy. One of the most interesting people I have spoken with in conjunction to Norjak. For those who might have missed my description of Whitehurst in the above post on "Chapter 16," Fred Whitehurst was the Supervising Special Agent at the FBI's National Crime Lab for about ten years or so - late 1980s until 1998, when he was transferred and demoted. Afterwards, he sued the Bureau and won $1.8 million.

He was the key agent to trigger the federal and congressional investigation of the NCL in 1996, and is featured in the book Tainting Evidence - Inside the Scandals at the FBI's Crime Lab.

Fred had a LOT to say about the FBI, and how the crime lab operates. He wasn't surprised to hear about the journey DNA has traveled in Norjak. He didn't have any information to share on the subject, but volunteered to review any and all FBI documents we might have. "I could help you by explaining what all the symbols and codes mean in the margins - things like that."

In general, his view is that the degree of fraud, deceit, and malfeasance at the FBI and their crime lab is much worse than any investigation is going to be able to uncover. He said that his whistleblowers organization is investigating 21,700 convictions by the feds that may have been obtained through fraudulent means. Plus, he told me two anecdotal stories of LE whistleblowers being intimidated by the FBI in outrageous ways - one was a false sexual abuse charge and the other was a kidnapping of an examiner's child. Wild stuff.

We also talked at length about dealing with people who blow us off by shouting we are conspiratorialists and wackos. We also talked about fanatics who are wackos, and what life is like having them as part-time allies and full-time pain-in-the-asses.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2015, 03:41:13 AM by Bruce A. Smith »
 

georger

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Re: The DNA/The FBI/DB Cooper...Whats The deal?
« Reply #190 on: December 16, 2015, 04:19:04 AM »
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Dr. Frederic Whitehurst

I spoke with Fred Whitehurst yesterday for an extensive period of time. Fascinating guy. One of the most interesting people I have spoken with in conjunction to Norjak. For those who might have missed my description of Whitehurst in the above post on "Chapter 16," Fred Whitehurst was the Supervising Special Agent at the FBI's National Crime Lab for about ten years or so - late 1980s until 1998, when he was transferred and demoted. Afterwards, he sued the Bureau and won $1.8 million.

He was the key agent to trigger the federal and congressional investigation of the NCL in 1996, and is featured in the book Tainting Evidence - Inside the Scandals at the FBI's Crime Lab.

Fred had a LOT to say about the FBI, and how the crime lab operates. He wasn't surprised to hear about the journey DNA has traveled in Norjak. He didn't have any information to share on the subject, but volunteered to review any and all FBI documents we might have. "I could help you by explaining what all the symbols and codes mean in the margins - things like that."

In general, his view is that the degree of fraud, deceit, and malfeasance at the FBI and their crime lab is much worse than any investigation is going to be able to uncover. He said that his whistleblowers organization is investigating 21,700 convictions by the feds that may have been obtained through fraudulent means. Plus, he told me two anecdotal stories of LE whistleblowers being intimidated by the FBI in outrageous ways - one was a false sexual abuse charge and the other was a kidnapping of an examiner's child. Wild stuff.

We also talked at length about dealing with people who blow us off by shouting we are conspiratorialists and wackos. We also talked about fanatics who are wackos, and what life is like having them as part-time allies and full-time pain-in-the-asses.

and what has any of this to do with the Cooper case? Are you now alleging FBI fraud in the dna workups for Cooper evidence?
 

Offline sailshaw

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Re: The DNA/The FBI/DB Cooper...Whats The deal?
« Reply #191 on: December 16, 2015, 10:59:08 AM »
Bruce Smith:  Did you miss in your Chapter 16 that the DNA from under the envelope flaps and stamps of the four letters sent to the newspapers just after Norjak has yet to be examined by the FBI?

As you know I propose that comparing the four letter DNA with what the FBI has from Sheridan Peterson and a match will "blow the case wide open" and lead to solving it very quickly and at little expense. Now this is the "smoking gun" in the case as because the FBI is on stop and this great opportunity remains unexplored. A match with Sheridan will prove he was in the Portland area, the scene  of the crime and not in Nepal per his phony alibi.

Lying to the FBI could put Sheridan in jail by its self and that threat could be used to trade for the real DB Cooper story from him.

This DNA info should be included in your Chapter 16 about DNA in the case.

Thank you,
Bob Sailshaw
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Offline Bruce A. Smith

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Re: The DNA/The FBI/DB Cooper...Whats The deal?
« Reply #192 on: December 16, 2015, 04:23:13 PM »
You're correct, Sail. But the issue is raised in the chapter on Al Di and the letters, and at the moment I'm inclined to leave the discussion where it is.

This is one of the unexpected dynamics in writing a book on Norjak - so many issues are intertwined that writing a coherent narrative is difficult. Take the DNA - we have letters, stamps, cigarettes, Reno, lost evidence, malfeasance at the NCL, partials, the tie that no one remembers, multiple male donors, chain of custody issues, Petey, Nepal, Whitehurst, Ckret, KING 5, epithelial cells. Lots of hoops to jump through.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2015, 04:28:23 PM by Bruce A. Smith »