Accuracy in Media

A few weeks ago it was widely reported that a comparison of President Clinton?s DNA with that of Danny Williams, a boy he was alleged to have fathered had proven that the allegation was false. The editor of Star magazine, which paid for the analysis, said the comparison was not even close. The DNA for Danny Williams was obtained from a sample of his blood. That was compared with the DNA profile of the President that the FBI drew up from the famous stain on Monica Lewinsky?s blue dress. This was among the documents sent to Congress by the Office of the Independent Counsel.

Carl Limbacher, a reporter for, who had reported that the Williams family was interested in filing a paternity suit against Clinton, has raised an interesting question about the validity of the analysis that Star magazine commissioned. Limbacher was advised by Christopher Curioli, an editor of scientific and medical textbooks, that the published DNA profile for Clinton may have been altered by the FBI to protect the privacy of the President. If so, the profile from the stain on the dress was also altered in the identical way.

According to Limbacher, (quote) “Curioli suggested that presenting a ?protected sequence,” i.e., an altered version of actual DNA information, is commonplace in the fields of genetic and virological research as a matter of industrial security.” He says that the need to maintain confidentiality in the case of the President could be even greater.

Limbacher asked the FBI if the Clinton DNA profile released by the Office of the Independent Counsel was accurate. The DNA laboratory expert said she would have to get the FBI press office to authorize her to answer that question. The press officer he spoke to said the FBI would not answer the question or make any comment on it. Kenneth Starr?s office would not respond to repeated calls about the matter. I personally spent nearly an hour trying to find someone in the White House press office who could cast some light on this question. I could find no one who was willing or able to respond.

Limbacher reported that a spokesman for the House Judiciary Committee said that they believed the DNA profile they had obtained from the Office of the Independent Council was accurate, but they had no verification of that belief. We contacted a member of the Committee who said he would look into it. We haven?t yet heard back from him.

The rumor that Clinton had fathered the son of a black prostitute was spread in Little Rock during the 1992 presidential campaign by a black businessman named Robert McIntosh. There is evidence that Clinton made a deal to silence him, the payoff being a pardon for his son who was in prison. If Clinton was seriously concerned about the paternity charge, he would not want his DNA profile made public, fearing that it could be used against him. The FBI refusal to attest to the accuracy of the profile means that the claim that the DNA proves that Danny Williams is not Clinton?s son is premature.

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