FBI Investigated for Evidence Tampering

In September 1995, the Justice Department began an investigation into allegations by an FBI scientist that the FBI crime laboratory tampered with evidence to favor the prosecution in high-profile cases.

FBI Special Agent Frederic Whitehurst alleged that the FBI crime lab tampered with evidence and did not report evidence favorable to the defense. Whitehurst accused FBI agent Roger Martz, who testified in the O.J. Simpson murder trial, of slanting evidence in testimony in other cases. Whitehurst also testified in the Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman terrorism trial that he was pressured to distort findings about the 1993 World Trade Center bombing to favor prosecutors (but did not do so).

The FBI, unsurprisingly, said its own review of 250 cases found no manipulation of evidence. Whitehurst called the review "garbage." Whitehurst, formerly the FBI's main explosives-residue analyst, was demoted to paint analyst.

As Whitehurst put it, "I swore to uphold the constitution of the United States, and I swore to enforce the law. There was no caveat in that swearing -- if I caught persons with badges I would turn my back."