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2,824 official dead according to History Channel

REMAINS OF 1,100 Identified according to History Channel documentary, Rise and Fall of an American Icon

...The trailers' contents are in the custody of Dr. Charles S. Hirsch, the chief medical examiner of New York City, who for 13 years has explained the city's deaths to its living. His duties now include the historic challenge of trying to identify the nearly 20,000 body parts carried to his agency's bleak, even forbidding building...
Today, more than 10 months after the terrorist attack, the remains of 1,229 of the estimated 2,823 victims, or nearly 44 percent, have been identified through laboratory analyses, computer wizardry and old-fashioned detection. More than 500 identifications have been made through DNA alone: for one victim, nearly 200 pieces have been identified, while for others, there was a single shard of bone...

...Today, the responsibility for making further identifications in the most ambitious forensic investigation in history rests almost entirely with Dr. Shaler and his staff. "Here on out," Dr. Hirsch said, "any additional identifications will likely be exclusively DNA."

Assistance is coming from across the country. In Springfield, Va., the Bode Technology Group is pulverizing bone samples to extract DNA. In Rockville, Md., the Celera Genomics Group is trying to trace the maternally inherited DNA from the remains. In Dallas, the GeneScreen division of Orchid Biosciences Inc., will be analyzing DNA samples that have so far yielded nothing...

Advances in DNA ID methods

author:"Marchi" intitle:"Methods Developed to Identify Victims of the World Trade ..."
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...ChoicePoint, a Georgia company spun off from Equifax in 1997 – a company whose 2001 annual report lists $655.9 million in net revenue and whose market capitalization topped $4 billion this year. ChoicePoint is an enterprise, analysts and shareholders will tell you, that is one of the great success stories of the last decade. Providing what the company calls “credential verification services” is the heart of the company’s business. In simplest terms, ChoicePoint works with corporations, government agencies and individuals to help them manage risk...
...ChoicePoint’s Bode Technologies is the largest private forensic DNA lab in the country. Last October, Bode was awarded a $12.5 million contract by the New York’s chief medical examiner to process up to 30,000 bone fragments recovered at the WTC site. The hope is that genetic information extracted from the fragments, compared with hair and other biological samples brought in by family members, will provide positive identification for more than a thousand victims still unaccounted for...

Bode is on the cutting edge of the greatest breakthroughs in forensic science since fingerprinting was developed in the UK almost a century ago. DNA evidence has identified the remains of Michael Blassic, Vietnam’s Unknown Soldier; it has solved one of the great mysteries of the 20th century – in 1994, the remains of Czar Nicholas II and four family members were positively identified using DNA evidence extracted from skeletal remains found in a mass grave outside Yekaterinburg in Siberia. Mitchell Holland, now Bode’s lab director, worked on both cases.

Howard Safir, Rudy Giuliani’s police commissioner, helped convince Smith of DNA’s potential. “I’m the loudest voice in law enforcement calling for the extended use of DNA,” says Safir. “For the longest time, I was a voice crying in the wilderness. I know how powerful and useful it is. I told Derek ‘You need to buy Bode.’”

Over the last decade, convicted felon DNA databases have been established by the FBI and law enforcement organizations in all 50 states (the process involves nothing more invasive than a saliva swab). When such “genetic fingerprints” began being compared with hundreds of thousands of rape kits and other biological crime-scene evidence stored, in many cases for years, in police evidence lockers, “cold hits” (incontrovertible evidence placing suspects at crimes scenes) began registering. In Virginia, for example, hundreds of once-unsoluble cases have already been cleared; in Georgia, 87 suspects have been linked to unsolved crimes. Justice cuts both ways: Bode’s work with O.J. Simpson defense attorney Barry Scheck’s Innocence Project has helped free more than 100 innocent men, 11 of them on death row. “DNA is a profound technology,” says Smith. “It will have very significant long term consequences on society.”

Safir and Paul Ferrara, the Virginia forensic lab director who pioneered the creation of DNA databases, now support legislation that will make DNA sampling of anyone arrested for a “fingerprintable” crime mandatory, an initiative guaranteed to outrage privacy advocates. Smith envisions parents voluntarily registering their children on a national DNA base – a practice more technologically advanced, but not much different, than inking a newborn’s footprint on a birth certificate – a database of police and firemen, similar to the armed forces’ system, to assist survivors in identifying loved ones in times of tragedy. “People had to bring in hairbrushes and toothbrushes and razor blades,” he says of the World Trade Center identification efforts, “hoping to find a piece of their loved ones.” He supports legislation mandating that DNA samples be taken from all foreigners entering the United States: “I don’t believe that’s an invasion of privacy for the privilege of coming into this country.”

ChoicePoint operates under the supervision of a privacy committee, an in-house oversight board that review deals and executive decisions. The “responsible use of information” is a fundamental plank in its business model. Nonetheless, mistakes have been made, particularly in the aftermath of dozens of ChoicePoint acquisitions. One buyout, Database Technologies, in Boca Raton, Fla., provided county electoral boards with a list of convicted felons to be used in purging voting lists during the last presidential election. Unfortunately, the state was Florida, the list was wildly inaccurate, and an estimated 8,000 citizens, many of them African-Americans, were deprived of their right to vote in the election – 15 times George Bush’s margin of victory over Al Gore. Federal and state investigations have since determined that DBT acted solely at the direction of state elections officials (who ignored safeguards suggested by the vendor) and did not conspire to disenfranchise voters.

Despite such problems, the public’s mood has shifted dramatically since Sept. 11. National identity cards linked to databases, once derided as Big Brother’s attempt to monitor the behavior and movements of ordinary citizens, have become the focus of a national debate with powerful forces aligned on both sides. A national survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies last fall saw “combating terrorism at home and overseas” register as the No. 1 priority for 71 percent of all those polled. The importance of “strengthening privacy laws” tumbled 21 percent for the period May through September.

Good news for Derek Smith, who is moving on to the next step: the obvious linkage of biometric identity and available data. “Is biometrics and DNA good or bad?” he asks. “Is it going to take society to an enlightened environment or some kind of police state? My conclusion is that information has more power to do good, provided we have safeguards to prevent evil. I want a debate on this.”

He’s not one to wait around or shirk controversy. “I’m not afraid of the questions,” he says. “There’s not some underlying ‘What if they find out about x or y?’ Society can draw the line. We’ll abide by whatever society rules.... At the same time, there’s not another company in America that has the opportunity we have. Some have more money, some can impact more people, but in terms of getting to the heart of the issue, we can, and will do it.”

Worth reading into.. Derek Smith's Brave New World

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