The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Owen Dunn (202) 342-1903

FBI Whistleblower First Exposed Forensic Flaws

Frederic Whitehurst Vowed to Help Wronged Defendants


Dr. Frederic Whitehurst originally exposed forensic flaws that may have led to many wrongful convictions, as reported in today's Washington Post front-page story. For years, Dr. Whitehurst has urged the Justice Department to act on systemic flaws that he witnessed while serving as the top explosives expert in the FBI Crime Lab. The NWC and FBI whistleblower Dr. Frederic Whitehurst assisted the Washington Post in its investigation into the Justice Department's failure.

In response to Dr. Whitehurst's original whistleblower disclosures, the Justice Department formed a Task Force to review thousands of cases impacted by Dr. Whitehurst's allegations and to determine if any individuals were wrongly convicted. Although the Justice Department and FBI pledged to correct their mistakes, documents obtained by the NWC through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suggest a government attempt to suppress embarrassing mistakes at the expense of innocent defendants.

As reported by the Washington Post today, convicted defendants were left uninformed of serious flaws in the forensic evidence presented in their cases long after the Justice Department had confirmed that serious problems existed.

When he left the FBI Crime Lab in 1998, Dr. Whitehurst vowed to continue his work to find all the defendants harmed by the FBI's misconduct. It was then that he established the NWC's Forensic Justice Project.

Dr. Whitehurst stated, "Imagine that you were an individual who was innocent, and yet an FBI scientist gave testimony that caused people to believe in your guilt. There was nobody anywhere who could or would help you, except the National Whistleblowers Center, a small, underfunded group of people dedicated to finding truth. Today's story joins a long saga that has exposed this tragedy, and yet the Justice Department fails to act."

General Counsel for the NWC David K. Colapinto added, "This information never would have come to light without the perseverance of Dr. Whitehurst. After blowing the whistle on the misconduct at the FBI Crime Lab, he never stopped. After the headlines faded, he worked with the NWC for over 10 years to find out who was harmed."

Dr. Whitehurst is an NWC Board Member and the head of the NWC's Forensic Justice Project. He first blew the whistle on this misconduct at the FBI Crime Lab in the 1990s and his work has become the heart of today's Washington Post front page article.

Dr. Whitehurst and Mr. Colapinto will appear on today's episode of Honesty Without Fear at 1:30pm ET to discuss the efforts to correct mistakes made in the FBI Crime Lab.

To schedule interviews with Dr. Whitehurst or Mr. Colapinto please contact Owen Dunn at

Since 1988, the NWC and attorneys associated with it have supported whistleblowers in the courts and before Congress and achieved victories for environmental protection, government contract fraud, nuclear safety and government and corporate accountability.