A review of more than 10,000 pages of task force documents and dozens of interviews demonstrate that the panel operated in secret and with close oversight by FBI and Justice Department brass — including Reno and Freeh’s top deputy — who took steps to control the information uncovered by the group.
“It was not open,” said a person who worked closely with the task force and who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the bureau and Justice Department maintain a strong influence in forensic science. “Maybe [a coverup] wasn’t the intent, but it did seem to look that way. . . . It was too controlled by the FBI.”
The documents and interviews tell a story of how the Justice Department’s promise to protect the rights of defendants became in large part an exercise in damage control that left some prisoners locked away or in the dark for years longer than necessary. The Justice Department continues to decline to release the names of defendants in the affected cases.