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Dr. Frederic Whitehurst

How Did Dr. Whitehurst Expose the FBI Lab Scandal?

A whistleblower is a person who reveals illegal, immoral, or fraudulent activities within a private or public organization. They are usually people who discover these sketchy activities and report them to higher authorities. But what happens when one finds fraudulent activity within one of the branches of administration in the United States government?

Dr. Whitehurst discovered flaws in forensic hair analysis conducted by the FBI. He reported his findings, but the FBI sought to ruin him for years. His report was investigated and found faithful.

What Did Dr. Whitehurst Discover?

Dr. Frederic Whitehurst is a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran and the youngest Navy Medal for Heroism recipient. Whitehurst earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Duke University and a post-doctorate degree from Texas A&M. His accomplishments helped him climb the ladder when he joined the FBI.

Whitehurst became a Supervisory Special Agent (SSA) in no time while simultaneously becoming the agency’s top explosive expert. In 1993, Whitehurst was assigned to secure the crime scene in the World Trade Center when terrorists tried to set off a bomb in the building’s garage. While working on the case, Whitehurst uncovered something unusual.

He realized that FBI officials were trying to manipulate forensic evidence and manufacture evidence to convict suspects. In 1994, he reported his findings to the proper channels within the FBI.

Whitehurst’s discovery included alterations to the reports and evidence. He also discovered that there were people who testified despite being outside their areas of expertise. Whitehurst also noted that this unlawful practice violated human rights. Unfortunately, his report was not heeded by his superiors, leaving Whitehurst no choice but to climb up higher in the chain of command. He brought his findings to the Department of Justice, effectively making him the first successful whistleblower in the FBI. (Source: KKC)

What was the Consequence of Whitehurst’s Report?

Dr. Whitehurst’s findings revealed systemic management failures in the FBI lab. This subjected him to unfair treatment by the FBI and the Justice Department’s Inspector General. Whitehurst faced continuous retaliation from the FBI. His credibility was often attacked, and his claims were criticized for years. (Source: Whistleblower’s Blog)

Whitehurst was ultimately taken off his position in the FBI crime lab as a lab supervisor and chemist, but this didn’t stop him from working to help improve the system within the FBI. He then hired the attorneys Kohn, Kohn, and Colapinto in the hopes of helping him bring to light the discoveries he made. However, the attorney general did everything to make Whitehurst fail since he was involved in the most sensitive terrorist case and had high-security clearances.

Whitehurst then wrote two memos describing the forensic misconduct that was destroying the integrity of the prosecution of the suspects connected to the terrorist attacks. Whitehurst distributed these memos to the Justice Department, finding their way up the chain of command and reaching the judge responsible for the World Trade Center bombing case.

Seeing the memos, the judge quickly ordered the FBI to make Whitehurst available for interrogation by the defendants’ attorneys. After ten years, his work was finally vindicated. Whitehurst’s lawyers were given access to the full scope of his findings and filed lawsuits internally in the government oversight offices. These lawsuits forced the agency to correct its forensic system. (Source: KKC)

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