Comments by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on the March 14, 1997 Addendum to the January 21, 1997 Draft Report of the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General: "The FBI Laboratory: An Investigation Into Laboratory Practices and Alleged Misconduct in Explosives-Related and Other Cases" , Dated: March 24, 1997
II. COMMENTS ON THE OIG'S FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS CONCERNING INDIVIDUALS
D. Other Individuals
7. Wallace Higgins
During the period January 10, 1991 to May 9, 1994, Wallace Higgins was the principal examiner (PE) in 51 cases in which Whitehurst conducted examinations as an auxiliary examiner (AE). According to the OIG's draft report, in 14 of these 51 laboratory cases, "Higgins prepared laboratory reports that contained material changes to the meaning of Whitehurst's dictations without Whitehurst's authorization." [ Part Three, Section H11 at 23. The draft also indicates that the OIG cannot assess whether Whitehurst's AE dictation was revised in ten additional cases because the signed AE dictation was not in the file and, consequently, the AE dictation cannot be compared with the Laboratory report prepared by the PE. Part Three, Section H11 at 5. We note that Higgins was not the PE with respect to one of these reports (Report No. 51). In that case, Whitehurst's AE dictation erroneously indicates that the PE was Higgins, when in fact the PE in this case was Dave Williams and Higgins had no role in the case. Williams failed to detect this error, and the Laboratory report reflects the PE as Higgins (whose symbol is "ZL") and the AE as Williams (whose symbol is "YR"), omitting reference to the role of Whitehurst (whose symbol is "YB") as AE. Since Higgins was uninvolved in this case, this Laboratory report should be deleted from the ten reports by Higgins which are at issue.] We contest the draft report's conclusions as to Higgins' alteration of Whitehurst's dictation in the respects and for the reasons set forth below.
We also contest the draft report's conclusion that "Higgins should be reassigned to a component of the FBI outside the Laboratory." [ March 14, 1997, Insert to Part Five at 2.] It is unclear whether this conclusion is based solely on the OIG's prior recommendation as to the reconfiguration of the Explosives Unit [ Part Six at 5-10.] or whether it is based in part on the findings as to Higgins' alleged alteration of AE dictation. To the extent that this recommendation reflects adverse findings as to the alteration of dictation, we request that it be reconsidered in light of the comments herein.
In addition to revising the OIG's findings as indicated, we request that the reference to Higgins' termination of the first interview and compulsion to participate in a second interview be deleted from the report. [ Part Three, Section H11 at 1.] It is inappropriate to comment upon the fact that Higgins chose to exercise a right which the OIG afforded him. Inclusion of this informationin the report can only be intended to telegraph to the reader that Higgins' statements to the OIG are in some way tainted, an improper implication under these circumstances.
We also note that on numerous occasions the OIG acknowledges that its determination as to whether Whitehurst authorized Higgins' modifications of Laboratory reports relies on the relative credibility of the two examiners. [ Part Three, Section H11 at 7, 8, 11, 13, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21, and 22.] In addressing whether Whitehurst's or Higgins' version of a given event is more believable, the OIG determines that Whitehurst's version must be credited and Higgins' account must be in error based upon a blanket assumption the OIG has apparently made as to relative credibility. This is even true where circumstances clearly indicate that Higgins is more likely to be correct. We believe that assumption is flawed for several reasons.
First, the OIG has previously found that Whitehurst has made "numerous serious allegations that are not factually supportable," [ Part Five at 33.] including allegations of perjury, fabrication of evidence, and improper circumvention of Laboratory protocols. [ Id.] The OIG has also found that Whitehurst "has demonstrated poor judgment in several matters;" has "failed adequately to review his own work and otherwise acted unprofessionally;" has faulted others for drawing conclusions based on insufficient evidence while, "[i]ronically, he has exhibited that same fault in many of the accusations he has made against others in the Laboratory;" [ Id. at 35.] and, with respect to Avianca, misstated a conversation on a material point, rendered a misleading and overstated opinion and raised the serious issue of contamination in the absence of any evidence. [ Id. at 34-35.] The draft report concluded that Whitehurst "appears to lack the judgment and common sense necessary for a forensic examiner, notwithstanding his own stated commitment to objective and valid scientific analysis." [ Id. at 36.] Given these findings, it is unclear why the OIG repeatedly credits Whitehurst's version of events over Higgins'. [ This is particularly true given that there is no evidence, and the OIG does not find, that any revisions Higgins may have made biased any reports or reflect any improper motive. To the contrary, the OIG specifically finds that "the evidence did not support the conclusion that Higgins intentionally altered Whitehurst's reports to bias the dictations in favor of the prosecution." March 14, 1997, Insert to Part Five at 1.]
Second, it appears from our review of the draft report concerning Higgins' alleged alteration of Whitehurst's dictation that the OIG bases its findings in substantial part on Whitehurst's often stated claim that if he agreed to any changes to his AE dictation he would edit the dictations on his computer and reissue the dictations to his unit chief for approval, [ Part Three, Section H11 at 3 and 6.] even if these changes were minor and nonsubstantive. [ Id. at 3 and 6.] As indicated by the draft report, however, Whitehurst did not follow that procedure in every instance. In one case (Report No. 2 on the OIG's chart) Whitehurst compared his computer-generated dictation with the Laboratory report and concluded that Higgins had inappropriately added a word to the dictation; in fact, Whitehurst had added and initialed the word in his own handwriting. [ Part Three, Section H11 at 3 n.3.] Contrary to Whitehurst's assertions to the OIG, he did not subsequently revise this dictation on his computer.
Similarly, with respect to Report No. 31, the draft report found that "Whitehurst . . . agree[d] to omit a . . . sentence from this dictation, which he crossed out and initialed." [ Part Three, Section H11 at 13 n.11.] As with Report No. 2, no revised dictation was created on his computer.
Additionally, it has been established to our satisfaction, and we believe to the satisfaction of the OIG, that Whitehurst added two paragraphs to his AE dictation underlying Report No. 37, although neither his initials nor the date on the dictation evidence that Whitehurst made these changes. This is a third circumstance in which Whitehurst revised his dictation but did not seek unit chief approval for the revision. [ Laboratory Report No. 25 presents another example of Whitehurst's failure to revise dictation on his computer when he authorized changes orally. Although not addressed in the OIG's draft because the signed AE dictation underlying this report was unavailable for review, we note that Laboratory Report No. 25 contains the sentence, "This type of material has not been analyzed by this examiner in the past," whereas this sentence does not appear on Whitehurst's computer-generated AE dictation. Higgins assures us that he did not add this sentence. We find this assurance credible given the fact that the only information contained in the Laboratory report is drawn from Whitehurst's AE dictation, and Higgins would not have been able to characterize Whitehurst's past experience. Consequently, even in the absence of the missing signed AE dictation, this is apparently a third example of a circumstance in which Whitehurst failed to revise his AE dictation on his computer, print the new version, and seek unit chief approval of the revision.]
Although apparently fully aware of the importance of this matter to the OIG's investigation, Whitehurst asserted that he would invariably revise AE dictation on his computer, print the revised version, and submit the revised copy to his unit chief for approval. In at least three cases, he did not. This should bear at least as much weight in theOIG's assessment of credibility as Higgins' inability to recall minor events which occurred between three and six years ago.
OIG Finding: Higgins prepared 14 laboratory reports that contained material changes to the meaning of Whitehurst's dictations without Whitehurst's authorization.
Response: As conceded in the draft report, Laboratory policy during the period involved did not require PE Higgins to obtain written authorization from AE Whitehurst when they jointly agreed to revise Whitehurst's AE dictation. Nonetheless, the OIG finds that, in all 14 of the cases in which the OIG concludes a substantive change was made, Whitehurst's assertion that he did not authorize the change orally is credible and Higgins' position that he would not have made a substantive change in the absence of Whitehurst's oral approval is unbelievable. With respect to 12 of the 14 reports at issue, we believe that this conclusion is insupportable and must be revised, as discussed below. Consequently, we request that the OIG reevaluate both its individual determinations as to these reports and its conclusion that Higgins inappropriately revised Whitehurst's AE dictation in a significant number of reports.
· Report No. 16. Whitehurst's AE dictation indicates the results of "preliminary" analysis of a specimen, whereas Higgins' Laboratory report does not reflect this analysis as preliminary. The OIG finds, and Higgins agrees, that omission of the word "preliminary" is a substantive change. The OIG does not, however, indicate why it rejects Higgins' assertion that he would not have made this change without consulting Whitehurst. According to the draft report, "Whitehurst reviewed the official case file and found no evidence that he had agreed to remove the word 'preliminary.'" [ Part Three, Section H11 at 8 (emphasis added).] However, the absence of evidence of an oral agreement is inconsequential because no such evidence was required at that time. While Whitehurst may only have reached "preliminary" conclusions when he drafted his November 13, 1990, AE dictation, he likely would have finalized these conclusions by the time Higgins drafted the January 10, 1991, final report. Furthermore, Higgins has advised us that he would not have deleted the word "preliminary" unless this was the case. We believe that it is unfair to conclude that Higgins lacks credibility in this regard without determining from Whitehurst whether, or when, he satisfied his obligation to finalize his conclusions. We request that the OIG do so before reaching any final conclusions in this regard.
· Report No. 17. In this case, Higgins' Laboratory report predates Whitehurst's AE dictation by 20 days. While neither Higgins nor Whitehurst was able to explain that circumstance to the OIG, Higgins has indicated that the Laboratory would not have reported conclusions concerning the main charge if Whitehurst had not advised him of these conclusions orally. Whitehurst has only indicated that he "doubts" that this occurred rather than recalling that it did not. Under these circumstances, the most likely explanation appears to be that Whitehurst provided a timely oral report and then altered this report when he laterdocumented it; any other conclusion is not supported by the draft report. In any event, the OIG cannot possibly conclude that Higgins altered Whitehurst's dictation when Whitehurst's dictation had not even been prepared at the time of Higgins' report.
· Report No. 20. We contest two aspects of the OIG's findings with respect to this Laboratory report.
First, we disagree with the OIG's conclusion that Higgins "misreported Whitehurst's findings" by adding information to the Laboratory report which was not included in Whitehurst's AE dictation. [ The draft report also erroneously refers to this addition as "changes" to and "alterations" of Whitehurst's dictation on several occasions. Part Three, Section H11 at 10. We request that all of these references be corrected to indicate that the Laboratory report contained information in addition to that provided by Whitehurst (as is the PE's responsibility), but did not in any way "change" or "alter" the AE dictation.] Whitehurst's dictation with respect to analysis of K1 and K2 reads as follows:
The results of these analysis [of specimens K1 and K2] are consistent with the presence of a mixture of aluminum powder, sulfur and potassium perchlorate. The combination of these materials form a low explosive/energetic mixture generally referred to as flash powder.
Contrary to the OIG's finding, Higgins did not "misreport" these findings in any way; they were reported verbatim in the Laboratory report. Higgins added to this analysis the following:
The two items in specimen K1 contained approximately 45.4 grams and 41.9 grams of flash powder.
The two items in specimen K2 contained approximately 3.7 grams and 4.3 grams of flash powder.
It is the PE's obligation to seek input from AEs with respect to all matters the PE believes should be addressed in analyzing the evidence at issue. A qualified explosives examiner such as Higgins can identify a substance generically termed "flash powder" without any chemical analysis based upon its physical characteristics, its dynamic response to the application of heat, spark, friction, or shock, and the circumstances of its seizure. The term "flash powder" is a descriptive label, rather than a designation for a unique chemical mixture, much like "salt" is a descriptive label for a family of chemicals which may include sodium chloride, potassium chloride, or other similar materials. Both flash powder and salt can be identified by those familiar with them even without knowing their precise chemical compositions. Consequently, even in the absence of Whitehurst's chemical analyses of K1and K2, Higgins' reference to these specimens as flash powder in recording their weights, which he determined himself, was entirely appropriate. The fact that Higgins also asked an AE to perform chemical analysis so that he could include the chemical composition in his report does not diminish his own qualification and authority to identify this substance as "flash powder."
Second, the OIG indicates that "this is only one of several cases involving selective omission of Whitehurst's forensic opinion." [ Part Three, Section H11 at 11.] Of the cases in which the OIG has identified erroneous omissions, we believe the evidence available at this time supports the propriety of these omissions in all but one case. [ We are unable to ascertain at this time the circumstances of the omission in Report No. 20.] We also believe that the OIG's characterization of these omissions as "selective" is misleading. Although we agree that certain material was omitted in order to ensure that the Laboratory report was clear, unambiguous, and defensible, there is no basis to conclude that those omissions constituted an attempt to manipulate the forensic analysis. In the absence of some evidence of an improper motive, which the OIG has not found, we request that the OIG delete the term "selective."
· Report No. 22. The underscored language from Whitehurst's AE dictation was omitted from the Laboratory report in this case:
The results of the analyses are consistent with the presence of residues of double-based smokeless powder.
It is the opinion of this examiner that the energetic material utilized in specimens Q1 and Q2 was at least in part double based smokeless powder.
Higgins advised the OIG that he did not believe this omission was substantial because Whitehurst had said the same thing in the prior sentence. Whitehurst indicated that this sentence was critical because it indicates that the chemical analysis could not exclude the possibility that other materials were present before the explosion. We disagree with the OIG's conclusion that Higgins erred in omitting this language. The term "consistent with" is specifically used to indicate that other results are possible and that additional substances may be present, but that these results or substances were not noted in the examinations reported. Having used that limited term, Whitehurst should not have added the underscored sentence, which appears to take a stronger position (the specimen is, at least in part, smokeless powder, rather than that it merely may be smokeless powder). Higgins properly omitted a statement by Whitehurst that did not appear to be supported by the evidence.
· Report No. 30. With respect to this report, the OIG faults Higgins for reporting "a more positive identification of explosive material than authorized by Whitehurst" [ Part Three, Section H11 at 11.] by adding Higgins' own conclusion regarding a potential source of the explosive at issue. While we do not disagree that the report could have been clearer by indicating the basis for Higgins' conclusion and including that conclusion under a separate heading, we contest the OIG's finding that Higgins' expression of his own conclusion in his Laboratory report somehow constitutes an "alteration" of Whitehurst's AE dictation. Higgins' sentence was included as a completely separate paragraph and was not incorporated into the AE dictation. We suggest that if the OIG believes the format of the Laboratory report warrants comment, it should indicate clearly that its criticism is one of format rather than one of "alteration of dictation."
· Report No. 31. According to the draft report, "[w]ith respect to Report No. 31, Higgins again prepared a report that excluded a sentence expressing Whitehurst's forensic opinion." [ Part Three, Section H11 at 13.] Contrary to the OIG's finding, however, the Laboratory report does contain the sentence expressing Whitehurst's forensic opinion at the top of page 3 in the exact sequence as it appears in Whitehurst's AE report. [ Our records indicate that we furnished to the OIG a copy of this Laboratory report on August 2, 1996. Our records further indicate that a complete copy of the file, including a second copy of the PE's report (excluding the AE dictation) was provided on November 13, 1996, and a copy of the AE dictation was provided on February 5, 1997 (the cover letter documenting the February 5th provision of this information is dated February 7, 1997; we elected to provide the material as quickly as possible in order to avoid the delay that would have occurred if we waited until we had prepared the cover letter).] Accordingly, we request that the OIG delete this criticism of Higgins. In addition, because the OIG has erroneously cited this as an example of "repeated and selective omissions" [ Part Three, Section H11 at 13. In this case, as in others, Higgins advised the OIG that, although the sentence may have been inadvertently omitted by a secretary, he would have consulted Whitehurst before intentionally omitting a sentence from the AE dictation, and Whitehurst contends that he did not concur in the omission. Given this discrepancy, the OIG finds that Higgins cannot be believed: "Again, given the repeated and selective omission of such opinion sentences from Whitehurst's dictations, . . . it is unlikely that anyone inadvertently omitted this sentence." Id. We do not agree that there is a pattern of "repeated and selective omission" from Whitehurst's dictations, and we find this conclusion to be both an inaccurate overstatement and an improper basis for concluding that error was committed.] by Higgins, we request that the OIG reevaluate the finding that there were such omissions and delete that finding as overly broad.
· Report No. 35. Higgins omitted the underscored language from Whitehurst's AE dictation in this case:
These analyses identified the presence of Pyrodex propellant in specimen Q5. The results of analyses of material on specimen Q2 are consistent with the presence of residues of Pyrodex propellant.
It is the opinion of this examiner that the energetic material originally found in specimens Q2 and Q5 consisted in part of [P]yrodex propellant.
The OIG concluded that Higgins erred in failing to reproduce Whitehurst's AE dictation as written. We believe Higgins' deletion was appropriate for the following reasons. First, the underscored language was properly omitted from the Laboratory report because it is redundant with the preceding paragraph. Additionally, deletion of this sentence was appropriate because, although technically consistent with the prior paragraph, the sentence may lead the reader to believe that both Q2 and Q5 consist "in part" of Pyrodex, whereas Whitehurst indicates that he has "identified the presence of Pyrodex" only in specimen Q5. [ Although the composition of Q2 is "consistent with" Pyrodex, it may clearly be composed, instead, of materials similar to Pyrodex.]
· Report No. 36. Higgins advised the OIG that he had asked his Unit Chief, James C. (Chris) Ronay, to review this report because he believed Whitehurst was making statements which were outside his area of expertise. Neither Higgins nor Ronay recall the circumstances under which the underscored language was omitted from the Laboratory report.
The presence of chloride, nitrite, nitrate, sulfate and carbonate ion in the explosive residues is consistent with residues of smokeless powders, nitrate/sulfur/hydrocarbon energetic mixtures and also with naturally occurring materials. The relatively large abundance of carbonate in the residues is also consistent with the use of a hydrocarbon based, nonefficient energetic mixture. Such mixture might include improvised explosive components which were combined in improper ratios leading to inefficient reaction. When such inefficient energetic materials are initiated, the post initiation residues normally contain unreacted hydrocarbon fuels such as sugar, vaseline or charcoal. Microscopic examination did not reveal any of these materials on the specimens examined but their absence does not preclude their having been there in the original energetic mixture. [ Part Three, Section H11 at 16.]
Ronay informed the OIG that he did not believe the omission of this portion was a "substantial" change. The OIG nonetheless concludes that this omission is "substantive." [ Part Three, Section H11 at 17.] Although the OIG does not specifically find that Higgins inappropriately omitted this language from the Laboratory report, it appears from the OIG's disagreement with Ronay that this conclusion may have been drawn. To the extent that this is the case, we disagree.
Contrary to the OIG's conclusion, although commentary regarding the results of inefficient energetic mixtures might be interesting, such commentary would introduce issues irrelevant to the forensic analysis being performed and thus potentially cause confusion about the nature of that analysis. The word "substantial" is defined in relevant part as "material," "being of considerable importance, value. . . ." [ Webster s II New Riverside University Dictionary (1994) at 1155.] The underscored language is not "material" to a determination of the explosive's composition. The OIG acknowledges that this language is "somewhat speculative," [ Part Three, Section H11 at 17.] but it concludes that "this information [is] potentially useful to the requesting agency." [ Id.] We disagree.
Instead of being instructive, the inclusion of such speculation may instead so mislead the requesting agency that important leads are overlooked or inappropriately discounted. Whitehurst's statement regarding the "normal" contents of post-initiation residues constitutes gratuitous comment that has no place in a report of forensic examination. Further, Whitehurst's statement that he found no evidence of particular substances on the specimens, but that they may nonetheless have been present originally, does not add to his analysis. Under these circumstances, we believe that Higgins' omission of this language was both appropriate and necessary to fulfill his obligation to ensure that the Laboratory report was unambiguous, clear, and defensible.
We also note that, with respect to both this omission and a second omission discussed in the draft report, [ Part Three, Section H11 at 17.] the OIG does not specifically conclude that Higgins erred in omitting this language, apparently because Ronay's possible role in omitting the language is unclear. This is significant both because the Laboratory report clearly cannot be found to be among the "several" cases in which the OIG finds that Higgins made "repeated and selective omissions," [ Part Three, Section H11 at 11.] and because this report must be omitted from among the cases in which the OIG found that Higgins erred.
· Report No. 37. With respect to this report, the OIG finds that "Higgins added a sentence concerning the absence of accelerants to Whitehurst's dictation, although Whitehurst did not perform any accelerant examination. [ Part Three, Section H11 at 18.] It does appear that Whitehurst and Higgins may have had a "miscommunication," as the draft report suggests, [ Id. at 19.] but it is not accurate to characterize the result of this possible miscommunication as an alteration of Whitehurst's dictation. Whitehurst's dictation is reported in the Laboratory report substantially verbatim. [ Whitehurst's dictation is restated verbatim in the Laboratory report with the following exceptions: a comma was omitted following "(EDGN)" on page 3 of the Laboratory report; Higgins revised "explosive s materials" (emphasis added) to read "explosive materials" in the first paragraph of page 4; Higgins converted serial commas to serial semicolons in the same paragraph; and Higgins added the word "that" in the same paragraph in an apparent attempt to improve the readability of the paragraph.] Consequently, we request that the OIG revise this finding and omit this report from among those in which it has determined that Higgins altered Whitehurst's dictation.
· Report No. 42. The OIG finds that, whereas Whitehurst's AE dictation indicates only that the main charge "consists of approximately 94% RDX high explosive," the Laboratory report states that the main charge "consists of approximately 94% RDX and 6% binders." [ Part Three, Section H11 at 19 (emphasis added).] Although the draft report does not indicate Higgins' position as to this addition, he has insisted that he would not have made such an addition in the absence of express authority from Whitehurst because he would have had no basis on which to suspect that this remaining substance would be binders. We find it noteworthy that in this case, and it appears only in this case, Whitehurst indicated that this modification of his dictation was "not that big a deal." [ Part Three, Section H11 at 19.] Higgins has assured us that he is certain that he did not, and would not, have made such an addition in the absence of Whitehurst's authorization. The OIG may have found it to be mere coincidence that in an instance in which Higgins vehemently denies making an addition without Whitehurst's authorization, Whitehurst finds the addition to be inconsequential. We are not persuaded, however, that this is a mere coincidence. Accordingly, we request that the OIG reevaluate its findings with respect to this case.
· Report No. 46. According to the draft report provided to the FBI on January 21, 1997, Whitehurst has apparently alleged on at least 15 different occasions that at least four different examiners have rendered opinions outside their areas of expertise. Ironically, this case represents an instance in which Whitehurst himself attempted to render an opinion outside his area of expertise. Not only have we concurred in the OIG's recommendation that our procedures ensure that examiners do not render opinions outside their expertise, in this case the procedures already in place to prevent such an occurrence worked as designed.
In addition to documenting the chemical analyses he is qualified to perform, Whitehurst's AE dictation discusses the construction of the explosive device. While Whitehurst may well have learned a great deal regarding explosive devices from his work with the Explosives Unit, just as Explosives Unit examiners learned a great deal about the chemistry and physics involved in explosives from the Materials Analysis Unit, Whitehurst is not qualified to render an expert opinion with respect to the construction of an explosive device. It was, therefore, both appropriate and consistent with the admonitions contained in the OIG's January 1997 draft report to rephrase this comment so that the expert in this area, Higgins, was confident in its accuracy. [ Although the draft report characterizes this as the "omission" of a sentence expressing Whitehurst's opinion (Part Three, Section H11 at 20), Higgins did not omit Whitehurst's dictation but instead rephrased it. We request that the OIG correct this mischaracterization.] Accordingly, we suggest that the OIG reconsider its finding that Higgins inappropriately altered Whitehurst's dictation with respect to this report.
· Report No. 47. As discussed with respect to Report No. 46, the language omitted from the Laboratory report in this case again reflects analysis outside Whitehurst's area of expertise. We believe this constitutes another instance in which the procedures then in place to prevent improperly rendered opinions worked as designed. Under these circumstances, we suggest that the OIG also reconsider its finding that Higgins inappropriately omitted language from the Laboratory report.
Notwithstanding the many respects in which we request reconsideration and revision of the draft report, we believe that the "remedial" steps identified by the OIG will assist us in improving the FBI Laboratory, and we have begun the steps to comply with these recommendations. [ Part Three, Section H11 at 25. We have also taken steps to comply with the OIG's recommendations (March 14, 1997, Insert to Part Five at 2) that the SAS Chief counsel Higgins on report preparation and that his work be monitored by both the SAS Chief and a qualified explosives examiner.]
We disagree, however, with the OIG's statement that completion of this aspect of its 18-month investigation "was delayed for several weeks due to the FBI's failure to produce [certain] dictations." [ Part Three, Section H11 at 1 n.2.] On July 19, 1996, the OIG requested 53 Laboratory reports based upon AE dictation prepared by Whitehurst. Because several of Whitehurst's reports were inaccurate, citing the wrong Laboratory number or PE, our ability to respond was impeded. Nonetheless, we provided 42 of the requested reports within 11 working days of the request,10 reports by November 25, 1996, and the final report on December 24, 1996. [ Provision of this report was substantially delayed because the file number indicated on the AE dictation provided to us on July 19, 1996, was erroneous.] During this period, we also satisfied additional requests for documents related to the Higgins investigation. [ On October 10, 1996, the OIG requested copies of the entire Laboratory file with respect to four cases; three of these were provided during the week of October 14, 1996, and the remaining file was provided on October 24, 1996. On November 8, 1996, the OIG requested copies of entire Laboratory file with respect to 20 additional cases; we made these files available on November 13, 1996.]
We received no additional requests for files, and no indication that the information we had provided to the OIG was inadequate in any way until after the draft report was submitted to us on January 21, 1997. On January 29, 1997, following our receipt of the draft report, and while we were attempting to respond to the report on the time schedule dictated by the OIG, the OIG asked to review 24 Laboratory files, as well as Higgins' own work files with respect to 51 cases. With the assistance of several FBI personnel from various Divisions, the OIG reviewed those files later that same week and during the week of February 3, 1997. We provided to the OIG numerous other documents during this time frame. It was during this period that we became aware that the files we had provided to the OIG in 1996 lacked some of the particular documents that were sought. As indicated by letter dated February 10, 1997, nine additional documents were located during the OIG's review.
Although we recognize that it would have saved the OIG the four or five days required for this review if we had provided these documents ourselves, it is not clear why this review could not have occurred from August through November 1996, when we first provided the files. As is apparent from our record of complying with the OIG's requests, we have exercised diligence and demonstrated commitment in our efforts to satisfy the well over 100 requests for documents and other information and assistance. We remain committed to assisting the OIG, and we appreciate its efforts to assist us in improving the FBI's Laboratory.