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US Dismantles Forensic Science Commission (washingtonpost.com) 281

hondo77 writes a report via Washington Post: Thought the Trump Administration's war on science was just about climate change? Think again. "Attorney General Jeff Sessions will end a Justice Department partnership with independent scientists to raise forensic science standards and has suspended an expanded review of FBI testimony across several techniques that have come under question, saying a new strategy will be set by an in-house team of law enforcement advisers," reports Washington Post. The National Commission on Forensic Science, "jointly led by Justice and the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has prompted several changes," including "new accrediting and ethical codes for forensic labs and practitioners" and the FBI abandoning "its four-decade-long practice of tracing bullets to a specific manufacturer's batch through chemical analyses after its method were scientifically debunked." "The availability of prompt and accurate forensic science analysis to our law enforcement officers and prosecutors is critical to integrity in law enforcement, reducing violent crime, and increasing public safety," Sessions said in the statement. "We applaud the professionalism of the National Commission on Forensic Science and look forward to building on the contributions it has made in this crucial field."
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US Dismantles Forensic Science Commission

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  • I'm ashamed to be an American.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Seriously. Who the fuck was calling for lowered standards in forensic science? I'm to the point where if there's a lobbying group for it, I assume the GOP is going to be for it. If it's something sane people really like, the GOP is going to be against it. But this? I'm honestly caught off guard.

      At this rate, I can only assume that next week, the GOP will announce that the official guidelines for miles, pounds, feet, and gallons are "too restrictive to business" and the new standard for how much gas will
      • by LetterRip ( 30937 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2017 @11:06PM (#54219535)

        Seriously. Who the fuck was calling for lowered standards in forensic science?

        Private prisons. They lobby for anything that results in higher and longer incarceration rates.

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/... [huffingtonpost.com]

        https://www.usatoday.com/story... [usatoday.com]

        • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2017 @11:11PM (#54219553) Journal

          Private prisons. They lobby for anything that results in higher and longer incarceration rates.

          That's the flip side of this. It's also about making sure there's enough "play" in the forensics to convict someone innocent or exonerate someone corrupt.

          • Private prisons. They lobby for anything that results in higher and longer incarceration rates.

            That's the flip side of this. It's also about making sure there's enough "play" in the forensics to convict someone innocent or exonerate someone corrupt.

            Translation: "Yeah, 2 + 2 = 4, but we feel it needs some flexibility to provide an answer anywhere between 3.5 and 6."

            As if destroying the advances we've made in forensic science makes any fucking sense whatsoever...

            Fuck the lobbyists and their corrupt justifications. Actions like this make it obvious who actually needs to be punished. Pretty fucking sad we have people who are proud to bolster the label of Incarcerated States of America.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Seriously. Who the fuck was calling for lowered standards in forensic science?

          Private prisons. They lobby for anything that results in higher and longer incarceration rates.

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/... [huffingtonpost.com]

          https://www.usatoday.com/story... [usatoday.com]

          I'm sick and fucking tired of hearing about business models that can only "grow" only by crossing the ethical line. Fuck private prisons and their reasons to destroy the advances we've made in forensic science. You want profits? Then create business that benefits members of society instead of finding more creative ways to imprison them. If this kind of bullshit lobbying continues, you'll be behind bars for jaywalking, because it helps feed someone's bottom line.

      • Who the fuck was calling for lowered standards in forensic science?

        Maybe people who are under investigation for some shady shit?

      • by lucm ( 889690 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2017 @11:11PM (#54219545)

        No this is just some biased news reporting as usual.

        From the article:

        In a statement Monday, Sessions said he would not renew the National Commission on Forensic Science, a roughly 30-member advisory panel of scientists, judges, crime lab leaders, prosecutors and defense lawyers chartered by the Obama administration in 2013.

        First, they do not "dismantle" the commission, they just don't renew its mandate. Second, it was a mostly idle project launched 4 years ago by Obama, it's not a long-standing institution of law enforcement.

        • Must you introduce article reading and facts into this?

          • by lucm ( 889690 )

            I first had a quick look at the members of that commission. When I saw that one was in the "National College of DUI Defense" and another was on the board of a foundation that "seeks to reduce over-incarceration", I kinda suspected that the output of that commission would not be new gadgets for CSI Miami, but rather a long list of things the cops shouldn't be allowed to use in court.

            • by Ly4 ( 2353328 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2017 @12:55AM (#54219881)

              but rather a long list of things the cops shouldn't be allowed to use in court.

              Like
                  - bad arson science (see the Willingham case)
                  - unsupported bite-mark evidence (see the Krone case)
                  - stating that fingerprints are absolutely unique (see the Mayfield case).

              What's wrong with requiring techniques used to court to be supported by evidence that they work?

              • What's wrong with requiring techniques used to court to be supported by evidence that they work?

                Hold on, let me ask the commission on requirements to see if they think that there is anything wrong with them supporting the commission on evidence.

                You will have to wait tho, as there are currently real commissions authorized by congress in session.

            • So you admit this wasn't "not renewed" because it was no longer needed, it was dismantled because it wasn't wanted. Because too many innocents went free.
              • by lucm ( 889690 )

                I'm not pro-law enforcement at all. The point here is that calling the end of this commission "war on science" is, at best. dishonest.

              • by Imrik ( 148191 )

                Is there something that the commission hasn't taken a position on that they should have? If not, they are no longer needed.

                • Is there something that the commission hasn't taken a position on that they should have? If not, they are no longer needed.

                  Did you bother to parse your own claim before you posted? Or did you just try to bullshit your way through this?

            • I first had a quick look at the members of that commission. When I saw that one was in the "National College of DUI Defense" and another was on the board of a foundation that "seeks to reduce over-incarceration", I kinda suspected that the output of that commission would not be new gadgets for CSI Miami, but rather a long list of things the cops shouldn't be allowed to use in court.

              So? And the fact that one of the co-chairs is "a Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)", one member is " elected Sheriff of St. Charles Parish", one is " Division Director (civilian Chief) for the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Technology and Support Division." (which comes up to three, one more than the two you listed) somehow didn't give you the impression that law enforcement personnel dominates that panel because...? And I was too bored to search for

        • by mvdwege ( 243851 )

          First, they do not "dismantle" the commission, they just don't renew its mandate.

          Semantics. The end result is the same: no commission.

      • I think it might just be political. The commission was established by Democrats, under Obama. Trump, as a Republican, is almost obliged to tear down anything that Democrats were responsible for.

      • Seriously. Who the fuck was calling for lowered standards in forensic science?

        Prosecutors.

        It's much easier to get convictions when you can make up proof of guilt.

      • Who the fuck was calling for lowered standards in forensic science?

        The commission itself. Do you have any idea what kind of malarkey passes as "forensic science" when they want to convict someone?

    • I'm ashamed to be on the same planet, actually. What the heck is going on with you folks? Whatever happened to "Truth, Justice, and the American Way". (I admit I have no idea what the American Way is, maybe it's "the other thing")
      So let me see if I have this right ...
      The new incoming administration is trying to reduce the accuracy of evidence checking.

      The only reason I can think of is to hurry up and send the kind of people that end up in court to jail. Actual guilt is no longer relevant. Just "round up the

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )

        As the years pass, I become every more glad I picked Australia, instead of America when I changed countries

        We are copycats so what you are happy to have left behind will catch up.
        For example, a few years ago a migrant from the US said one little thing that made him happy was that a park would just have a sign with the name of the park instead of a long list of what was prohibited. Well, we decided to copy ambulance-chasing lawsuits and those parks now have the long lists. We even copied the Enron-era Cali

  • How can we even speak of reform, when the hands of every judge in the Empire are soaked and dripping with blood?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 11, 2017 @10:55PM (#54219497)

    and two-bit crooked real estate salesmen are now running the US government.

    • Hillbillies

      Just because some no-shoes wearing, Oxycontin-addicted, uncle-fucker waiting for his coal job to come back so he can pay for his black lung treatments voted for Forrest Trump doesn't mean you should use a slur like, "hillbilly".

      So much for the "Tolerant Left", I guess.

    • From across the pond, the difference to earlier times is really hard to see.

    • The commission did nothing that people actually used. Talk about two-bit crooks, what about the people that got paid taxpayer money to do nothing worthwhile?

      The people that are running the government now are adults, absent after a long departure and pissed off at the way the country has been trashed.

  • statement from NDAA (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 11, 2017 @11:00PM (#54219511)

    Statement from National District Attorney Association

    http://www.ndaa.org/pdf/NDAA%20Statement%20on%20Expiration%20of%20National%20Commission%20on%20Forensic%20Science.pdf [ndaa.org]

    The Commission lacked adequate representation from the state and local practitioner community,
    was dominated by the defense community, and failed to produce work products of significance for
    the forensic science community. Very few of the recommendations from the Commission were
    adopted and signed by the previous Attorney General during its existence. Those that were signed,
    such as universal accreditation, had already begun to develop organically within the forensic science
    community as accepted best practices, thus replicating ongoing work and wasting taxpayer dollars.

  • I think all this would be a lesson not only for the US and the RF, but for the whole humanity that a regime change from outside is not a good thing. No matter how much one dislikes an incumbent, a nation should be let to have its own history, revolutions, etc.
    • by lucm ( 889690 )

      I think the real lesson here is that people should avoid making dramatic statements when it's not warranted.

      • by Max_W ( 812974 )
        Not warranted? Starting from 1789 it is about all what governments do. The Crimean and Franco-Prussian wars were the direct consequences of the Great French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, the First World War was a result of French humiliation in Franco-Prussian war, and so on and so forth.

        At the same time not knowing a culture, language, mentality, people of a country makes an effort of a regime change from outside often unpredictable and counterproductive.
  • fake news (Score:5, Informative)

    by ooloorie ( 4394035 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2017 @11:26PM (#54219607)

    Sessions isn't "dismantling" anything. The commission was created in 2013 and was supposed to do its job by 2017. It apparently has done that, Sessions has thanked them. The Trump administration is now deciding what to do next.

    Calling this "ordering the Justice Dept. to end forensic science commission" or "dismantling forensic science commission", as if Trump or Sessions had taken extraordinary steps to kill the commission, is tendentious, politically motivated b.s. that reflects badly on the Washington Post and the submitter.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Technically correct; the article notes the commission's term ends April 23rd. But what's the case for ending it?

      As the article also notes:

      "In suspending reviews of past testimony and the development of standards for future reporting, “the department has literally decided to suspend the search for the truth,” said Peter S. Neufeld, co-founder of the Innocence Project, which has reported that nearly half of 349 DNA exonerations involved misapplications of forensic science."

      There's verifiable evide

      • by Imrik ( 148191 )

        That's not an argument for ending the commission. That's an argument for replacing the members interfering with its function.

        Or they could end the commission and create a new committee that has a similar function with a more balanced point of view.

    • Sessions isn't "dismantling" anything. The commission was created in 2013 and was supposed to do its job by 2017. It apparently has done that, Sessions has thanked them. The Trump administration is now deciding what to do next.

      Calling this "ordering the Justice Dept. to end forensic science commission" or "dismantling forensic science commission", as if Trump or Sessions had taken extraordinary steps to kill the commission, is tendentious, politically motivated b.s. that reflects badly on the Washington Post and the submitter.

      Errrm. Yes, and, no, and no, and no. Yes, it was created in 2013 and yes, it was due for termination in 2017. But that would be it's second termination after its first renewal, and there was supposed to be a another renewal hearing. https://www.justice.gov/ncfs/file/624216/download [justice.gov]

      11. Termination:
      The Commission's termination date is two years from the date this Charter is filed with Congress, and is subject to renewal in accordance with Section 14 of FACA.

      And more importantly: it wasn't "supposed to do its job by 2017". The charter clearly says: "10. Duration: The period of time necessary for the Commission to carry out its purpose is indefinite"

  • Mama does not want justice. She wants QUIET.
    Put another way--the courts need only dispense sufficient justice that most of us STFU and GBTW.

  • The words "before its term ends April 23".
    "set to expire"
    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/ru... [pbs.org] (April 10, 2017) "The department will instead appoint an in-house adviser and create an internal committee to study improvements to forensic analysis, Sessions said."
  • No. "US" didn't. Trump and his incompetent embarrassment of an administration did. Just one more step on their way to becoming cartoon villains. Don't put this on the more than half of us that never wanted him or his minions anywhere near the levers of power.
  • Yes, when you're $19 trillion in debt, you have to forego some luxury items.

  • NATIONAL DISTRICT ATTORNEYS ASSOCIATION
    Date: April 10, 2017

    National District Attorneys Association Applauds Expiration of National Commission on Forensic Science

    ARLINGTON, Virginia – The National District Attorneys Association (NDAA)
    supports the announcement this morning by United States Attorney General
    Jeff Sessions that he will not renew the charter for the National
    Commission on Forensic Science, allowing the Commission to officially
    expire. NDAA also appreciates the creation of a Subcommittee on
    F

  • by LynnwoodRooster ( 966895 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2017 @01:36PM (#54223509) Journal

    Last fiscal year, the US Federal Government spent $1.423 trillion more than it brought in (source: US Department of Treasury [treasurydirect.gov]). There are approximately 140 million taxpayers [taxfoundation.org]. This represents a DEFICIT spending $10,160 per taxpayer - spending above and beyond income. It is more than all the Federal Income tax paid! We would have to literally more than double the current Federal tax rate for all taxpayers to cover our deficit spending...

    Or, we start cutting things that are outside the domain of the Federal Government, and scale back on spending. It's either increase revenue or cut spending - but it has to be done. We cannot keep blowing over $4 billion dollars a day in deficit spending (that is $29 per day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, per taxpayer).

Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must be first overcome. -- Dr. Johnson

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