Flight 800 (1996), the bombing of the USS Cole (2000), and the bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania (1998). And even though the identification of the Unabomber (1996) occurred as a result of the cooperation of his brother with the authorities, the forensic evidence against Theodore Kaczynski was substantial and crucial to the case.

The nature of homeland security requires the integration of forensic science into the investigative process much earlier than is the case for criminal justice. That is, for homeland security, forensic science plays not only its traditional role of inferring what happened at a crime scene and who was involved, but also contributes more intensively to generating investigative leads and testing, directing, or redirecting lines of investigation. In this role, forensic science contributes to the gathering of effective and timely intelligence and investigative information on terrorists and terrorist groups. This requires both traditional forensic science tools and enhanced and specialized forensic analysis and information sharing—new tools that are being developed primarily by the intelligence and defense communities in the United States, with each community tailoring the new tools to its specialized needs and missions.

The intelligence and investigative capabilities thus build on a foundation of traditional forensic science expertise that exists in the military and the FBI. The Department of Defense (DOD), for example, includes the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory, which, with its 137-member staff, carries out criminal investigations. It also conducts research activities to develop specialized techniques needed by the military. Some of the nontraditional forensic science capabilities available within that laboratory include methods suited to intelligence gathering and counter-intelligence and the ability to make inferences about foreign language documents. Plans for the future include developing capabilities such as increased integration of biometrics (used for security) and forensic science and improved accident investigation and reconstruction.1

Other DOD forensic science capabilities are found in the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (with a staff of 25), the Cyber Crime Center (with a staff of approximately 190), the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command Central Identification Laboratory (more than 46 staff members), and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (with staff of approximately 138).2 The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command Central Identification Laboratory bills itself as the largest forensic anthropology laboratory in the world.3 Also contributing to DOD’s forensic science capabilities is its


L.C. Chelko, Director, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory. “Department of Defense Forensic Capabilities.” Presentation to the committee. September 21, 2007.





The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement