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MIT Technology Review

Lincoln Lab Investigation Update

September 8, 2006

An ad hoc committee reviewing the delay of an MIT investigation into alleged fraud in a missile defense study concluded in May that the Institute had followed “fundamentally sound” policies on research misconduct.

The allegation, raised in 2001 by Professor Theodore Postol, concerns a report written by a team that included two members of the technical staff of MIT Lincoln Laboratory. An initial inquiry by MIT in 2002 recommended further investigation, but the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) denied MIT investigators access to certain classified documents. In March 2006, after discussing the matter extensively, MIT and the DoD announced an agreement in which a high-level civilian employee of the air force, not affiliated with the DoD agency responsible for missile defense, will investigate the allegation. At MIT’s insistence, retired Lockheed Martin chief executive Norman R. Augustine, a former member of the MIT Corporation, is serving as an external advisor and consultant to the investigator.

The committee attributed most of the delay to the fact that the DoD denied the MIT investigation access to classified documents in order to prevent their disclosure in litigation, not involving MIT, between a defense contractor and a former employee.