Tag Archives: FOIA

Fort Campbell Officials Live Up to Negative Expectations in Response to Freedom of Information Act Request

Two weeks after I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to Army officials at Fort Campbell, Ky., I received a response today that shows officials at the home of the vaunted 101st Airborne Division lived up to my negative expectations.

The reply to my FOIA request lived up to my low expectations for the Army.

The reply to my FOIA request lived up to my low expectations for the Army.

Shown above, the response letter from Freedom of Information and Privacy Act Officer Valerie M. Florez contained the following paragraph:

The US Army does not have jurisdiction and does not control prosecutions in Hopkinsville or Christian County, Kentucky Courts where [name of Major Martin’s accuser redacted] is facing charges. Perhaps Hopkinsville or Christian County courts may be able to assist you in contacting the correct party or [name of Major Martin’s accuser redacted]‘s attorneys. Any documents or correspondence from or between the military attorneys mentioned are part of an ongoing case involving Major Martin (US vs Martin). Any of this correspondence is exempt from release and would be withheld under Freedom of Information Act Exemption Five, attorney-work product and/or attorney-client privilege.

The letter from Ms. Florez — and particularly the paragraph above — runs 180 degrees counter to what I included in my Oct. 12 FOIA request, the “meat” of which appears below:

To Whom It May Concern:

In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act (5 USC, and Public Law 106-554), I would like to request copies of the following documents from the Staff Judge Advocate at Fort Campbell, Ky:

Any and all print and/or electronic communications — including, but not limited to handwritten and computer-generated notes, letters, email messages and text messages — between any individual(s) assigned to the Staff Judge Advocate staff at Fort Campbell, Kentucky — including but not limited to Major Jacob D. Bashore, Captain James P. Garrett, Major Jenny S. Whyte-Schlack — and any civilian attorney(s) and/or their associates representing accused bigamist [name of Major Martin’s accuser redacted] in legal matters in Christian County, Ky.


Please do not attempt to avoid fulfillment of this request by contending that the items requested are not releasable because they concern ongoing legal matters and/or investigations. I know the U.S. Army has no standing or authority to intervene in Christian County’s civilian prosecution of Ms. [name of Major Martin’s accuser redacted].

Though I made no mention of Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin in my FOIA request, Ms. Florez avoided fulfillment of my request — just as I predicted she might in the third paragraph of my letter — by falsely claiming communications the Army attorneys had with a third party about a case completely unrelated to the prosecution of Major Martin is “exempt from release and would be withheld under Freedom of Information Act Exemption Five, attorney-work product and/or attorney-client privilege.”

In reality, Ms. Florez and her bosses realize that fulfillment of my request will expose the Army lawyers named in the same as having tampered with a civilian legal matter.

Stay tuned for updates on this case and other military justice cases I’m following. Likewise, thanks in advance for reading and sharing the articles above and those to follow. You can show your support and help keep these articles coming by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here.

UPDATE 10-27-2015 at 9:48 a.m. Central: After I add postage, I will place two envelopes in the U.S. Postal System. The envelopes contain letters in which I call for Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley to straighten out this FOIA mess.

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Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

Secretary of Defense Invites Me to Ask Questions

Today, I found myself unable to pass up the opportunity to respond to the offer made in a status update on Secretary of Defense Ash Carter’s Facebook page:  “Have a question for Secretary of Defense Ash Carter? Ask it on his Facebook page at http://facebook.com/SecDef, and he might just answer it during his Worldwide Troop Talk on Sept. 1.”

Click on image above to see the Facebook page containing SECDEF Ash Carter's invitation to submit questions.

Click on image above to see the Facebook page containing SECDEF Ash Carter’s invitation to submit questions.

Okay, so maybe he didn’t invite me personally, but I decided to take it that way. Furthermore, though I didn’t ask SecDef Carter a direct question, I think my request below — which I sent via email to AskSecDef@mail.mil and posted here on the SecDef’s Facebook page — qualifies as a question, because it demands answers:

Dear Secretary of Defense Carter:

For months, beginning July 19, 2012, I tried unsuccessfully to use the Freedom of Information Act to obtain a copy of the Army 15-6 Investigation Report prepared after then-Army Ranger 1st Lt. Michael C. Behenna shot and killed Ali Mansur, a known Al-Qaeda operative, in Albu Toma, Iraq (near Baghdad) on May 16, 2008.

First, I contacted officials at the Army Criminal Investigation Command Crime Records Center at Quantico, Va. Next, I contacted officials at the Army’s primary FOIA office at Fort Belvoir, Va. After that, I contacted officials at Fort Campbell, Ky., home to the Army’s 101st Airborne Infantry Division, parent command of the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment to which Lieutenant Behenna and his fellow members in Delta Company, 5th Platoon, belonged.

After realizing no success with any of the agencies listed above, I contacted an official at the Crime Records Center and asked her to review the estimated 874 pages of the Report of Investigation that her agency was willing to provide me and see if the 15-6 report was among the documents included.  She told me it was not and suggested I contact FOIA officials at Army Central Command (USARCENT), located at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.

On Dec. 10, 2012, I forwarded a FOIA request to USARCENT, seeking a copy of the 15-6 report.  Thirty-five  days later, I received a reply from then-Col. Rodney L. Lightfoot, then-Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff at Third Army/United States Army Central Command.  He wrote: “This letter is the final response to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request dated December 10, 2012.  Your request was for a copy of the Army Regulation 15-6 investigation report that was prepared following a shooting incident that took place May 16, 2008 in Iraq.  The shooting incident involved Army 1LT Michael C. Behenna and the person who was killed, an Iraqi citizen by the name of Ali Mansur. In response to your FOIA request, our agency conducted an extensive search for records. No records were found in search of the information being requested. No fees have been assessed for this action.”

As an Air Force veteran, I’m asking you, Secretary Carter, to cut through this red tape of bureaucracy and get me a copy of the Army 15-6 Investigation Report concerning the incident involving Lieutenant Behenna.

Please forward the report to me via email at bobmccartywrites@gmail.com or via postal mail to this address:  Bob McCarty, PO Box 1423, St. Charles, MO 63302-1423.

Thanks in advance for your prompt fulfillment of this request.

Sincerely,

Bob McCarty

The “Worldwide Troop Talk” mentioned at the top of this piece will stream live from 9-10 a.m. Eastern/8-9 a.m. Central on Defense.gov, and you can count on me watching and providing an update as to how he will respond. Just in case he limits his questions to active-duty military members, I would appreciate anyone in uniform helping me out by duplicating my effort shown above. You can do that in the comments section of this SECDEF status update or via email to AskSecDef@mail.mil.

Thanks in advance for assisting me in this effort. I’ll let you know if it produces any results.

UPDATE 9/09/2015 at 9:29 a.m. Central:  Because 19 days have passed without any reply to the inquiry highlighted above, I resubmitted the request via the Ask a Question online tool at Defense.gov. Not going to hold my breath as I await a reply.

UPDATE 9/11/2015 at 10:29 a.m. Central:  Almost 48 hours have passed since I followed up with SecDef Carter by sending the email message referenced in the UPDATE 9/09/2015 above. In response, I’ve heard only crickets. So much for government accountability and transparency.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same. Thanks in advance!

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Pre-Blast Videotapes FBI Claims ‘Might Have Been Misfiled’ Remain at Center of Ongoing Oklahoma City Bombing Trial

EDITOR’S NOTE: Four years ago today, I shared an update about the Oklahoma City Bombing trial that was taking place in federal court and continues to this day in Salt Lake City. In case you missed it when it was published on this site and on Breitbart.com, I share it again with only minor modifications.

Click image above to read other OKC Bombing-related articles.

Click image above to read other OKC Bombing-related articles.

In a response filed yesterday to a federal judge’s order May 11, an FBI official offered no denials about the existence of video images captured by more than 20 surveillance cameras operating prior to 9:02 a.m. on April 19, 1995, in the vicinity of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City. Instead, he explained that officials at the bureau merely cannot find the tapes and raised the possibility that they “might have been misfiled and thus could be located somewhere other than in the OKBOMB file (though it would be impossible to know where).”

The order, issued by Judge Clark Waddoups in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, Central Division, stemmed from the bureau’s failure to comply with a three-year-old Freedom of Information Act request submitted by Salt Lake City lawyer Jesse Trentadue, a man on a quest for answers related to the Oklahoma City Bombing and the death of his brother, Kenneth Trentadue, who died under suspicious circumstances several months later while in custody at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City.

Judge Waddoups’ order was both clear and concise. The items to which the FBI was to respond by June 30, 2011, and how the bureau responded (shown in italics after each item) appear below:

1.  Affirm whether the six government officials from the FBI and CIA who had submitted affidavits in this case had misrepresented information or provided incomplete or otherwise misleading information to the Court. In response to this item, the only thing Judge Waddoups received as an affidavit from David M. Hardy, section chief of the FBI’s Record/Information Dissemination Section of the Records Management Division in Winchester, Va.  The CIA submitted nothing.

Click on image above to download document.

Click on image above to download document.

2.  Advise whether the I-Drive and S-Drive, data storage areas on the FBI computer system, were searched for the videotapes and other documents sought by my FOIA request and, if not, why not. In response, the FBI told the judge the I-Drive no longer exists and that FBI officials have no reason to believe that S-Drive would contain anything.

3. State whether the Evidence Control Centers or other evidence storage facilities located at FBI Headquarters, the FBI Crime Lab and FBI Oklahoma City Field Office were manually searched for the videotapes and other requested materials and, if not, explain why such searches were not done. The FBI responded by saying their headquarters does not have an Evidence Control Center and that the FBI Crime Lab was instructed to send all OKBOMB materials to the Oklahoma City FBI Field Office, where they were placed in a warehouse.  According to Hardy, “it is always possible” that these materials/evidence “might have been misfiled and thus could be located somewhere other than in the OKBOMB file (though it would be impossible to know where).”

4. Manually search the OKBOMB physical files at FBI Headquarters, the FBI Crime Lab and the FBI Oklahoma City Field Office for the videotapes and other requested documents or provide evidence as to why such a search would be too burdensome. The FBI responded, explaining to the judge that no manual search was done because to manually search the 450,000 pages of the physical file that might contain the location of this evidence, would require one and one-half years of an FBI agent’s time.

5. Provide the court with an affidavit from Mr. Hardy stating that he does not know of either the existence of or the likely locations of the videotapes and that he is unaware of anyone else that may know of the existence or likely locations of the videotapes. The FBI response via Hardy:  “I am unaware of the existence or likely location of additional tapes responsive to the plaintiff’s FOIA request, including tapes from the Murrah Building or any additional Hanger tape other than the tape that plaintiff already received, and do not know of anyone who would know where additional tapes would be located.”

In an email July 1, 2011, Jesse Trentadue pointed out several things to me about the FBI’s response as being “noteworthy.”

“There is no affidavit from someone within the FBI stating that the tapes do not exist,” he wrote, adding that FBI officials couldn’t make such a claim, because it would conflict with three sworn affidavits, the contents of which had already been made public.

In a post published April 7, 2011,  I shared documents Trentadue had shared with me that contain fodder provided by three people — OKC police officer Don Browning, private security specialist Bradford Cooley and FBI Special Agent Ricardo Ojeda — that sheds light on the FBI’s response to the FOIA request.

Office Browning noted in a declaration to the court that he and other non-federal rescuers were ordered to leave the Murrah Building soon after the bomb exploded despite the need to move quickly in hopes of locating and, hopefully, saving victims trapped by the blast. In addition, he wrote the following:

Click on image above to download document.

Click on image above to download document.

That same morning, I observed men wearing jackets with “FBI” printed on the back removing the surveillance video cameras from the exterior of the Murrah Federal Building. I thought this was part of the FBI’s evidence gathering or “chain of custody” procedures since those exterior cameras would have shown and recorded delivery of the bomb in a Ryder truck that morning as well as the person or persons who exited that truck.

I knew from my training and experience as a police officer that an investigation of the bombing and prosecution of those involved would require not only preserving the videotapes of the event but also require preserving the cameras and tape decks by which those videotapes were made. Nevertheless, I did think it odd that the FBI’s removal of those cameras was taking place while many people were still trapped alive in the rubble of the Murrah Federal Building and so many of us were working desperately to find them.

Cooley’s declaration, in which he outlined his knowledge of the surveillance systems at the Murrah Building, included the following hard-to-ignore observations:

Click on image above to download document.

Click on image above to download document.

From my knowledge of the video surveillance system in place at the Murrah Federal Building, an my presence on scene just after the bomb exploded, I have no doubt that the two external cameras on the Northwest and Northeast corners of the Building would certainly have recorded the entire event. Those cameras would even have recorded the delivery of the bomb to the Murrah Federal Building in a Ryder truck and, most importantly, those cameras would also have recorded everyone who exited that truck prior to the explosion. Because of their distance from the Murrah Federal Building, ADT’s offices were not destroyed or otherwise damaged in the bombing, which means that the videotapes should still exist.

In a sworn affidavit dated May 21, 2001, FBI Special Agent Ojeda outlined how the FBI handled information they did not want to see brought up in court:

Click on image above to download document.

Click on image above to download document.

The FBI also kept “zero files,” which were reports containing information that the FBI would not generally want disclosed to the defense and which were kept separate from a specific case file. These files were kept internally within the Bureau and typically were not turned over to the prosecution or the defense. Files would be assigned numbers bases on the type of offense or investigation involved, for example, a bank robbery would be assigned a particular number. A letter A after that number would mean highest importance. A zero after that number would mean that the report should go into the “zero” file.

On the last page of his affidavit, Ojeda added the statement below:

Although there are many very good FBI agents, there are also FBI agents, including some who worked on the Oklahoma City bombing case, who are willing to subvert the truth in order to protect fellow agents.

In addition to the conflicts surfacing between the FBI’s stance and statements made in the affidavits above, it appears FBI officials are playing a shell game with Jesse Trentadue and the judge.

Jesse Trentadue pointed out that, for the first time in three years, the FBI said that all Oklahoma City Bombing-related evidence and documents are in a warehouse somewhere in Oklahoma City.  In addition, he noted that bureau officials misrepresented the purpose of the S-Drive before the court.

“This was the time and the place for FBI officials to come forward with evidence of no tapes, but they did not,” said Jesse Trentadue during an interview Friday about the matter.  “They are, in plain English, in contempt of the court’s order.”

For more details about this long-running FOIA case being adjudicated before Judge Clark Waddoups in a federal court in Salt Lake City, I suggest you watch this chilling one-hour video below. After that, read other posts about the Oklahoma City Bombing Trial and stay tuned for more details.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks in advance!

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Could Hackers Expose Hidden Oklahoma City Bombing Files?

As a former U.S. government employee via my status as a military veteran, I don’t support hacking efforts like the one that resulted in an estimated 32 million records being stolen from the Office of Personnel Management. At the same time, however, I occasionally find myself wishing someone would hack into the FBI’s I-Drive and S-Drive computer systems so that  Jesse Trentadue could finally get his hands on evidence related to the Oklahoma City Bombing and the death of his brother almost 20 years ago.

In this trial exhibit, two Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building surveillance cameras are shown, circled in red.

In this trial exhibit, two Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building surveillance cameras are shown, circled in red.

IF such a hack took place and the hackers shared their findings with Jesse Trentadue, the Salt Lake City attorney might learn the truth about the death of his brother, Kenneth Trentadue, at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City a few months after the Oklahoma City Bombing.

Without such a hack, Jesse Trentadue must continue his 20-year battle to obtain copies of surveillance camera videotapes recorded in downtown Oklahoma City prior to the April 19, 1995, explosion that killed 168 and injured countless others. The tapes, he believes, are being kept hidden — stored in the Federal Bureau of Investigation‘s aforementioned I-Drive and S-Drive systems — so as not to be subject to a Freedom of Information Act request he filed in 2008 and/or not made part of the FBI’s official “OKBomb” case file.

Why does Trentadue want copies of the pre-explosion videotapes? Because, he believes — and has documents and sworn affidavits from civilian and law enforcement witnesses to back up his beliefs — the tapes not only exist, but they contain images of the man FBI officials at first referred to as “John Doe 2” before, days later, saying he never existed. As contained in the sketch circulated soon after the Oklahoma City Bombing, the image of John Doe 2 bears a striking resemblance to his brother.

For more details about this long-running FOIA case being adjudicated before Judge Clark Waddoups in a federal court in Salt Lake City, I suggest you watch the chilling one-hour video below. After that, read other posts about the Oklahoma City Bombing Trial and stay tuned for more details.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks in advance!

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Obscure Justice Department Agency No Stranger to Me

Yesterday, I came across The Washington Free Beacon article about the U.S. Department of Justice concentrating on “far-right” groups in a new half-million-dollar study of social media usage aimed at combating violent extremism. It was, however, writer Elizabeth Harrington’s mention of the National Institute of Justice in the second paragraph of the piece that caught my attention.

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Click image above to order a copy of The Clapper Memo.

Why the interest in this obscure little agency that serves as the research, development, and evaluation arm of DoJ? For starters, because it deals in large quantities of taxpayer dollars. Beyond that, because I was already painfully familiar with NIJ after having dealt with its people while conducting the four-year investigation into the federal government’s unholy reliance on century-old polygraph technology that resulted in publication of my second nonfiction book, The Clapper Memo, in May 2013.

During the course of my investigation, I used the federal Freedom of Information Act and the Oklahoma Open Records Act to obtain copies of print and electronic communications between NIJ officials and academics involved in the conduct of 22 studies that cost taxpayers almost $4.5 million — or more than $202,000 per NIJ grant. If you take time to read some of the communications highlighted in Chapters 11 and 18 of The Clapper Memo, you’ll probably experience the same hair-standing-up-on-the-back-of-your-neck feeling I did and think — just like the polygraph — something doesn’t pass the “smell test.”

For more info about The Clapper Memo, visit TheClapperMemo.com. To order a copy of the book, see below.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks in advance!

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