Monday, July 21, 2008

Possible problems with some DNA profiles

and reason #326 why so many local agencies and so many people distrust the FBI.

Insty pointed to this article, and it's interesting. DNA is a powerful tool for law enforcement, but it's like any other: it has to be used properly. And if there's a serious question about how it's used, that needs to be fully investigated. But here's the FBI trying to prevent such investigation, with some really disgusting threats and bullcrap scare tactics.

Read the whole thing, it's interesting. Basically pointing out that the most basic DNA profile might not be the 'beyond doubt' proof of guilt that it's been painted to be. But
The FBI laboratory, which administers the national DNA database system, tried to stop distribution of Troyer's results and began an aggressive behind-the-scenes campaign to block similar searches elsewhere, even those ordered by courts, a Times investigation found.
FBI officials argue that, under their interpretation of federal law, use of CODIS is limited to criminal justice agencies. In their view, defense attorneys are allowed access to information about their specific cases, not the databases in general.
He urged authorities in several states to object to Arizona-style searches, advising them to tell courts that the probes could violate the privacy of convicted offenders, tie up crucial databases and even lead the FBI to expel offending states from CODIS -- a penalty that could cripple states' ability to solve crimes.

In one case, Callaghan advised state officials to raise the risk of expulsion with a judge, then told the officials that expulsion was unlikely to happen, according to a record of the conversation filed in court.

Here's one that should really piss people off:
Soon after Barlow received the results, Callaghan, the head of the FBI's DNA database unit, reprimanded Troyer's lab in Phoenix, saying it should have sought the permission of the FBI before complying with the court's order in the San Francisco case.

Asked later whether Callaghan had threatened her lab, Troyer said in court, "I wouldn't say it's been threatened, but we have been reminded."

Dwight Adams, director of the FBI lab at the time, faxed Griffith, Troyer's boss, a letter saying the Arizona state lab was "under review" for releasing the search results
Got that? The FBI says that this state agency should have sought permission from the FBI to comply with a court order. A court order on a search of the ARIZONA STATE DNA database. And threatens them for not seeking blessing from the FBI before doing anything. That's fairly disgusting. And it goes on:
It didn't. After the judge, Steven Platt, rejected her arguments, Groves returned to court, saying the search was too risky. FBI officials had now warned her that it could corrupt the entire state database, something they would not help fix, she told the court.
Now, I admit I'm not a computer whiz, and some odd things do happen; but could someone explain to me how doing a search that the database was designed for could corrupt the friggin' system? And that threat from the FBI that "WE will not help fix it" is just wonderful, isn't it?

Ok. So there's a possiblity of matches on a number of DNA profile points that may be a problem for some criminal trials. And the FBI immediately starts pushing bullcrap arguments and threats to try to prevent this being dug into, including threats(that would backfire horribly if they actually tried it) to try to keep individual states from searching their own databases on this matter. Which makes people wonder just what the FBI may be trying to hide, cover up, whatever to become this damn-near hysterical about this. This kind of crap always comes out, and it always makes the Bureau look like a bunch of tyrants, and they keep doing it.

Interesting article, with some interesting possible implications. Like the guy said, "I can appreciate why the FBI is worried about this," said David Kaye, an expert on science and the law at Arizona State University and former member of a national committee that studied forensic DNA.

But "people's lives do ride on this evidence," he said. "It has got to be explained."

1 comment:

Hoozyrdady said...

I'm an IT guy, and databases are made for this kind of stuff. The Feebs are full of crap. Worse case scenario - the databse gets messed up and the IT guy restores it from backup. Problem solved.