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Picks of the Week: Faulty DNA Tests, Sick Nuke Workers

POSTED: 10:28 AM ET, 07/25/2008 by Derek Kravitz

In a regular feature of Post Investigations, our editors have combed through the in-depth and investigative reports from news outlets across the nation and selected the notable projects of the week.

Get the complete list (in no particular order) after the jump.

DNA Profiles Not As Unique As They Appear

An Arizona FBI laboratory, which administers the national DNA database system, tried to stop distribution of an analyst's report questioning the accuracy of the agency's own statistics, sparking an aggressive behind-the-scenes campaign to block similar searches elsewhere, even those ordered by courts, an investigation by The Los Angeles Times has found.

The Times' Jason Felch and Maura Dolan reported that the crime lab analyst, Kathryn Troyer, was running tests on Arizona's DNA database in 2001 when she stumbled across two felons with "remarkably similar genetic profiles." The discovery led to lingering questions about the validity of "unique" genetic profiles, which appear far from unique, as the FBI has sometimes suggested.

"At stake is the credibility of the compelling odds often cited in DNA cases, which can suggest an all but certain link between a suspect and a crime scene," The Times reported.

Most Sick Nuke Workers Haven't Gotten Aid

Tens of thousands of sick nuclear arms workers -- or their survivors -- from every state in the nation have applied for compensation that Congress established for them in 2000. But most have never seen a dime, a Rocky Mountain News investigation has found.

The News' Laura Frank reports that Congress promised these Cold War patriots an efficient, compassionate path to atonement. But the News found that the government has derailed aid to workers by keeping reports secret from them, constantly changing rules and delaying cases until sick workers died.

The three-day series found a pattern of ongoing decisions and rule changes within the 8-year-old program that consistently made it more difficult for sick and dying workers -- or their survivors -- to be compensated and a group of 10,000 Navajo men, who had mined uranium for America's atomic bombs, that were not treated but studied by the U.S. government.

"Now those who survived -- and the families of those who didn't -- are having trouble proving that they qualify for compensation," the News reported.

The problems in the compensation program were outlined last year in an investigation by The Post's Michael Alison Chandler and Joby Warrick that focused on the Savannah River and Rocky Flats plants.

By Derek Kravitz |  July 25, 2008; 10:28 AM ET
Previous: Napping Air Force Crew Broke Security Rules | Next: D.C. Jail Guards Have Arrest Records

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