Editor’s Note: You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on “In Session.”
In Session Anchor
A new report from the National Academy of Sciences finds that so-called forensic science needs a big fat overhaul. According to some of the country’s top doctors, engineers and researchers, the evidence we’ve used to convict the 1.6 million Americans currently in prison is unreliable, at best.
•Fingerprint analysis •shoeprint evidence •blood spatter •toxicology •drug testing •handwriting samples •tool marks •bite marks •hair sampling
And that’s the short list. The full list is too long for this post. Suffice it to say, the techniques employed to catch and convict criminals cannot be trusted.
Forget what you’ve seen on CSI; that’s fiction. Here are the facts: What we call forensic “science” is not science. It was not developed by scientists in lab coats with test tubes and lots of letters after their names. The practice of forensics developed in the context of law enforcement. There is an inherent bias. And it has never been subject to the kind of peer review and scientific rigor to which real scientists must adhere.
Of course there are lots of talented and dedicated people in the forensic science community, but they are under funded and under pressure to convict. And inconsistent practices in federal, state, and local agencies plague the profession as a whole. The quality of forensic science varies too greatly for a system that is ultimately about life, liberty and sometimes even death.
What we need is a new and independent entity, with no ties to the past dysfunctions of the forensic science community, and with the authority and resources to implement a fresh agenda designed to prevent the miscarriage of justice. A National Institute of Forensic Science. Justice requires nothing less.
CNN Financial News Producer
Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Chairman Bill Ford, Jr. have decided to cut their pay by 30% for the next two years and to suspend bonuses for salaried workers this year.
Ford will also offer another round of buyouts and early retirements to all of its hourly workers and is suspending cash compensation for board members to help meet its goal of returning to profitability in 2011.
The moves come one day after the struggling automaker reached a deal with the United Auto Workers union that lets the company pay less cash into a retiree health care fund.
Take a look at David Brooks' reaction to Gov. Bobby Jindal's response on behalf of the Republican party last night.
JIM LEHRER: Now that, of course, was Gov. Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, making the Republican response. David, how well do you think he did?
DAVID BROOKS: Uh, not so well. You know, I think Bobby Jindal is a very promising politician, and I oppose the stimulus because I thought it was poorly drafted. But to come up at this moment in history with a stale "government is the problem," "we can't trust the federal government" – it's just a disaster for the Republican Party. The country is in a panic right now. They may not like the way the Democrats have passed the stimulus bill, but that idea that we're just gonna – that government is going to have no role, the federal government has no role in this, that – In a moment when only the federal government is actually big enough to do stuff, to just ignore all that and just say "government is the problem, corruption, earmarks, wasteful spending," it's just a form of nihilism. It's just not where the country is, it's not where the future of the country is. There's an intra-Republican debate. Some people say the Republican Party lost its way because they got too moderate. Some people say they got too weird or too conservative. He thinks they got too moderate, and so he's making that case. I think it's insane, and I just think it's a disaster for the party. I just think it's unfortunate right now.
Roland S. Martin
Special to CNN
Every day, parents and teachers across this country tell young people to dream big, not sell themselves short and prepare to go further and higher than the previous generation.
Corporations spend a lot of time, energy and money trying to get employees to get out of their comfort zone and think out of the box.
So can someone explain to me why it's a bad thing when the president of the United States does it?
John D. McKinnon
The Wall Street Journal
President Barack Obama nominated former Washington Gov. Gary Locke to be secretary of commerce.
"I'm sure it's not lost on anyone that we've tried this a couple of times. But I'm a big believer in keeping at something until you get it right," Mr. Obama said, standing with the fellow Democrat in the Indian Treaty Room at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building near the White House.
Reporter's Note: President Obama says Americans should let him know if they have ideas to help the country. Some say letter writing is a lost art, so in the name of art and citizenship, I am sending a letter a day to the White House.
Tom Foreman | Bio
Dear Mr. President,
Nice job on your first big speech to Congress. Must have been tough to stand up there looking at all those senators, your own Cabinet members, Supreme Court Justices, the Joint Chiefs. I think it would be difficult telling them about your vision for America, especially when you consider how many of them once thought they’d be standing in your place. Ha!
Adding to the complexity, is the chore of having a little message for so many different groups: trying to keep the liberals from revolting, trying to lure the Republicans into cooperating, trying to keep the moderates from seeing you as an extremist, and on and on it goes. And, oh by the way, let’s not forget all the rest of America.
There are an awful lot of us out here these days. 300-million or so, last time I counted. And frankly, I’m pretty sure that walloping number has changed politics in ways that Washington has not yet fully comprehended. We are the third largest country on earth in terms of population. Only China and India are bigger. China’s government, of course, is nothing like ours. And India, while it is a democracy, operates against an utterly different historic, cultural, and economic backdrop.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/02/25/obama.iraq/art.iraq.afp.gi.jpg caption="U.S. soldiers stand guard outside a mosque during a prisoner release Sunday in Baghdad, Iraq."]
President Obama is expected to approve a proposal to withdraw most combat troops from Iraq within 19 months, Pentagon officials told CNN Wednesday.
Although no decision has been announced by the White House, "That's the way the wind is blowing," a Pentagon official said.
A White House spokesman said the president has made no final decisions about Iraq policy.
Obama's campaign pledge was to withdraw combat troops within 16 months. But shortly after taking office, he asked Pentagon and military commanders for an analysis of other time frames.
The Pentagon sent Obama options for withdrawals at 16, 19, and 23 months.
It is expected that the final plan will call for the majority of combat forces to be withdrawn, and keep as many as 50,000 in Iraq to serve mainly as military trainers or advisers.
U.S. military officials said even those residual forces could find themselves in combat.
For the last two months, the U.S. Central Command has been assessing how equipment and personnel will be withdrawn from Iraq, according to a U.S. military official. Video Watch what Obama said Tuesday night about Iraq.
The official did not want to be named because of the sensitivity of discussing withdrawal details before the president's announcement. However, he said the U.S. military is looking at exit routes through Jordan and Kuwait.
The military is trying to determine what equipment might be returned to the United States; transferred to the Iraqi or Jordanian government; sent to Afghanistan; or simply discarded.
AC360° Senior Producer
In his first speech to a joint session of Congress, President Obama outlined an ambitious agenda to the nation. He told us that we’ll recover and we are not a nation of quitters. We had heard that he would lace his latest speech with optimism, and he certainly sounded more hopeful.
Did he warm your greasy little heart?
He focused heavily on the priorities of the budget he will present to Congress tomorrow: energy, health care and education. We’ll have more on what he said, and drill down on budget details he may present tomorrow.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal had a big job offering the GOP rebuttal last night. He echoed the complaints of other Republican leaders on Capitol Hill- too much spending- too few tax cuts. He said, “Democratic leaders say their legislation will grow the economy. What it will do is grow the government, increase our taxes down the line, and saddle future generations with debt."