In response to Professor Theodore Postol's December 5, 2002, letter to Congressman Berman alleging that MIT is attempting to conceal evidence of "criminal violations" in research work done at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology issued the following statement:
MIT asked a senior faculty member to conduct an inquiry into Professor Postol's allegations. This process is complete, and a report on the inquiry was delivered to the Provost this week. After reviewing the report, the Provost will determine what additional steps to take.
The bedrock principle for all research done at MIT is scientific integrity. Any allegation that there has been any deviation from that principle must be taken seriously, and that is what MIT has done in this case. MIT's longstanding policies on reviewing such allegations call for a two-step process: an inquiry, to see if an investigation is warranted; and if it is, the investigation itself.
Professor Postol's letter to Congressman Berman claims that a letter to Professor Postol from MIT dated November 25 shows that MIT is attempting to conceal evidence of supposedly criminal activity. Anyone who reads that November 25 letter, which MIT understands Professor Postol has sent to the news media, can see that Professor Postol has misunderstood what the letter says. The letter simply reminds Professor Postol of the steps in MIT's inquiry and investigation process. The fact that the inquiry is now complete does not mean that the review is over, but only that a decision about the next phase, based on the inquiry report, will be made. That decision is the one that the Provost, who received the inquiry report two days before Christmas, will make.
Reviews of this nature are time consuming because of their thoroughness and their complexity. They are also confidential for the simple reason that the reputations of the individuals are at stake. Unless and until it is determined that the allegations are justified, it would be unfair to comment on any aspect of the review. Furthermore, public comments before the facts are known might damage the review itself.
MIT will continue to honor the confidentiality of the inquiry because of our commitment to due process and fundamental fairness.