FBI lab problems have prompted some noteworthy action from leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
In a letter Tuesday to FBI Director James Comey, the commitee’s Republican chairman and senior Democrat voiced “grave concerns” about recent revelations concerning erroneous lab results and inaccurate testimony involving microscopic hair analyses.
“The scope of this catastrophe is almost impossible to believe,” wrote Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., adding that the recent discoveries are “shocking and obviously unacceptable.”
The two lawmakers asked Comey for a briefing by May 22, pressing seven separate questions from when the Bureau first learned of the lab problems to what disciplinary actions, if any, have been taken against the lab examiners.
The committee’s oversight actions follow up on the revelations last month that examiners’ testimony in at least 90 percent of trial transcripts the Bureau analyzed as part of its Microscopic Hair Comparison Analysis Review contained erroneous statements. Twenty-six of 28 FBI analysts provided either testimony with erroneous statements or submitted laboratory reports with erroneous statements.
“We need to understand more about these cases,” Chaffetz and Cummings wrote.
In a statement last month, Amy Hess, the executive assistant director of the FBI’s Science and Technology Branch stressed that the Justice Department and the FBI are “committed to ensuring that affected defendants are notified of past errors and that justice is done in every instance.”