Murder Victim’s Brother Continues Fight Against FBI

In a post published Oct. 21, I shared details about a  24-page complaint filed by Jesse Trentadue in a Utah federal court days earlier.  Now, here’s an update:  On Jan. 10 at 3:30 p.m., Judge Clark Waddoups will rule on the Motion to Compel the FBI to produce the videotape taken by surveillance cameras at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City the morning of April 19, 1995.

Untold Stories of the OKC BombingThe tape being sought by Trentadue, according to federal government records, “shows the Ryder truck pulling up to the Federal Building and then pausing (7-10 seconds) before resuming into a slot in front of the building. . . .[and] the truck detonation 3 minutes and 6 seconds after the suspects [plural] exited the truck.”

For some heretofore unexplained reason, the FBI doesn’t want to give up the tape, and Trentadue thinks their reluctance is connected to the death of his brotherr, Kenneth Trentadue, who died in 1995 under suspicious circumstances while in custody at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City months after the Oklahoma City Bombing.

If Judge Waddoups rules in favor of Trentadue, Trentadue will find himself one step closer to getting to the bottom of the circumstances surrounding his brother’s death.  The Salt Lake City attorney, however, isn’t one to “count his chickens before they hatch” — and for good reason.

Despite being ordered by Judge Waddoups to search for and produce that tape, the FBI has essentially refused to do so.  Details about their stonewalling can be found in my July 1, 2012, post, FBI Official Says OKC Bombing Videotapes “Might Have Been Misfiled, Impossible to Know Where.”

RELATED NEWS:  Trentadue also gave me an update about his latest legal move made in an effort to convince the same federal judge to compel the FBI to provide all documentation outlining what he describes as the agency’s “practice/program to recruit and place informants in the national media; on staffs of Senators, Congressmen and perhaps even federal judges; on defense teams in high profile federal criminal prosecutions; in the clergy; in other federal agencies, including the White House; and in local law enforcement.”

Trentadue informed me that, today, the agency filed an answer to the federal court complaint he filed under the Freedom of Information Act, to obtain copies of the manual that the FBI uses to recruit and place informants known as “sensitive informants” serving on the staffs of federal judges, members of Congress and in national media outlets; among the clergy; in other federal agencies, including the White House; and even on defense teams in high-profile federal criminal prosecutions.  In their answer, the FBI states that it “can neither confirm nor deny the allegations [of the Complaint] regarding its confidential informant program” while citing national security as a basis for its refusal.

FBI Answer to Amendend Cmplt

Click to download FBI Answer to Complaint (pdf).

It’s a very interesting case the mainstream media isn’t following.  Rest assured, I’ll keep up with it.  Meanwhile, if you have a lot of time, be sure to read the 28 posts I’ve published in my series, Untold Stories of the Oklahoma City Bombing.  Including in the series are 14 posts about the Kenneth Trentadue Murder Case.

If you don’t have a lot of time, read my Sept. 11, 2012, post, One-Hour Video Will Chill You, or simply watch the video below.

"Three Days In August" Promotional PhotoBob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice, a nonfiction book that’s available in paperback and ebook via most online booksellers, including Amazon.com. His second book, The CLAPPER MEMO, is coming soon.

 

Oklahoma City Bombing Videotapes Subject of Federal Court Hearing in Salt Lake City May 11

More than 18 months after publishing a piece about the whereabouts of the unedited versions of the Oklahoma City Bombing surveillance tapes, I learned Wednesday that a federal court hearing concerning a Freedom of Information Act request for those videotapes is set to take place May 11 in Salt Lake City.

The hearing will take place with Judge Clark Waddoups presiding in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, Central Division.  It comes some three and a half years after Utah attorney Jesse Trentadue used FOIA to request the FBI turn over copies of surveillance video captured April 19, 1995, by more than 20 cameras operating in the vicinity of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City.

I don’t agree with Trentadue’s belief that the bombing was likely a U.S. government-sponsored operation; instead, I side with the conclusions offered by Jayna Davis, award-winning investigative reporter and best-selling author, in her 2004 book, “The Third Terrorist:  The Middle East Connection to the Oklahoma City Bombing.” Still, I remain troubled that the FBI has fought the release of videotape footage likely to reveal the identity of at least one additional person involved in the bombing that took place less than 30 minutes from where I was living at the time.

Specifically, Trentadue requested footage captured prior to 9:02 a.m. Central, when a truck bomb exploded, killing 168 people, and footage from the dashboard camera of Oklahoma Highway Patrolman Charles Hanger’s vehicle showing the arrest of Timothy McVeigh.  He received footage from several cameras, but not from the cameras on the Murrah Building itself; hence, the reason for the May 11 hearing.

In his Memorandum in Support of Rule 56(f) Motion for Continuance Pending Discovery, Trentadue explained that his lawsuit “is not about reports and documents” and is, instead, “a case about videotapes.”

It is also a case about the most crucial evidence in what was then the biggest investigation ever handled by FBI Defendants: the bombing of the Oklahoma City Alfred P. Murray Federal Building, he wrote.  The videotapes at issue will expose that others were involved in that terrorist attack.

After explaining that FBI defendants do not present the court with any proof that these tapes do not exist and that their claim that the tapes cannot be found despite a computer search for this evidence does not relieve them of their FOIA obligations, Trentadue directed the court’s attention to ordinary Americans:

Click to read interviews.

The American public has a right to know what happened in Oklahoma City on the morning of April 19, 1995 and, more importantly, why?  Yet, it is obvious that for some reason FBI Defendants do not want the truth about the Oklahoma City bombing made public.  Perhaps the reason is as simple as: the Federal Government’s prior knowledge of that planned attack and failure to prevent it, or that there were others involved whom the Federal government chose not to expose and/or prosecute.  But whatever the reason, that is precisely why the FOIA became law: to protect the right of American citizens to know their own history and, more importantly, their government.  And that is why the Court should reject the FBI Defendants’ claim that their only obligation is to search their computerized records for this evidence knowing that it is not there and once that search they knew would fail has been concluded, they need do no more.

After citing several legal precedents to back up his argument, Trentadue shared documents with me that contain fodder provided by three people — OKC police officer Don Browning, private security specialist Bradford Cooley and FBI Agent Ricardo Ojeda — that sheds light on the Bureau’s response to the FOIA request.

Browning noted in his 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:

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:

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, Ojeda outlined how the FBI handled information they did not want to see brought up in court:

Click to download Ojeda affidavit.

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 the sworn 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.

It will be interesting to see how the judge rules in this case, but I won’t be holding my breath in anticipation of a groundbreaking ruling.  Neither will Trentadue.

“If the Utah Federal Court does rule in my favor and order the tapes produced,” he told me via e-mail today, “I expect the FBI to again go to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit to have that order set aside.”

Noting that the Bureau has a track record of successfully appealing lower court rulings, Trentadue offered a prediction.

“In short, May 11, 2011, will be just another battle in a very long war and not the end of the war.”

RELATED LINKS:

To learn more, click here to find links to all of my posts about the Oklahoma City Bombing.

For an overview of why Trentadue became interested in the bombing, read the 2007 Mother Jones’ article, In Search of John Doe No. 2: The Story the Feds Never Told About the Oklahoma City Bombing.

KennethTrentadue.com is the web site Jesse Trentadue created after his brother Kenneth died under suspicious circumstances while in custody at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City.

Intelwire makes The Jesse Trentadue Files for review.

UPDATE 4/10/11 at 8:58 a.m. Central: Cross-posted at Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com.

If you enjoy this blog and want to keep reading stories like the one above, show your support by using the “Support Bob” tool at right. Thanks in advance for your support!

Attorney Says Unedited Versions of the Oklahoma City Bombing Surveillance Tapes Are ‘Somewhere’

Copyright © 2009 Bob McCarty.  All rights reserved.  Reprint permission required.

By Bob McCarty at BobMcCarty.com

No Question... 9-29-09“Someday, somewhere, somebody is going to have the guts to release that stuff,” said David P. Schippers, speaking to me by phone from his office in downtown Chicago Tuesday afternoon.

The “stuff” to which Schippers was referring is surveillance-camera footage recorded in downtown Oklahoma City on the morning of April 19, 1995, prior to the truck-bomb explosion that killed 168 people at 9:02 a.m. Central.  It’s the same footage the FBI failed to release along with post-blast footage in response to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue and highlighted in a NewsOK.com article published Sunday.

Who is David P. Schippers?

If you recognize his name, chances are it’s because of the notoriety he received while serving as chief investigative counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee during the Clinton Impeachment Hearing.  Likewise, it could be that you know him as the author of the book, “SELLOUT: The Inside Story of President Clinton’s Impeachment.”

I was introduced to the 70-something Chicago-based attorney by Jayna Davis, author of the book, The Third Terrorist, which chronicled her decade-long investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing and became a New York Times Best Seller.  Some 30 years his junior, Davis considers Schippers a close personal friend and something of a father figure.  Moreover, she trusts and respects him — so much so, in fact, that she had him write the foreword for her book.

Barely 24 hours after publishing a series of three copyrighted posts containing never-before-published information about Davis’ investigation of the bombing, I had the opportunity to interview Schipper for almost an hour.  And he did not disappoint.

Implicating Presidents

I began the interview by asking Schippers why no one had pursued Hussain Al-Hussaini, the Iraqi native Davis identified in her book as the third terrorist who, along with Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, carried out the attack?

“My honest opinion is that the original shot was made by (President Bill) Clinton in 1995,” he explained.  “Remember, it was 1995, and he had lost the congress — both houses of Congress — and people were saying he would never get reelected, and his numbers were way the hell down.

“If he had had another attack against the United States, he would have had to act, and he didn’t do a damn thing on the first Twin Towers bombing,” he continued.  “Clinton said, ‘Let’s not overreact,’ and, at that time, we had the Department of Justice with (Janet) Reno in there who was completely politicized, and I think (Clinton) just decided we’re not going to do it.”

Schippers continued, “riding” a bipartisan train of thought.

“Now, why didn’t the (President George W.) Bush people do it?” he asked rhetorically.  “That’s the one that really bothered me.  We deliberately waited until Reno and that gang got out of the administration and then Bush came in.”

Unfortunately, no one ever bit on the information Schippers said a president could have used as a legitimate reason to invade Iraq, and he blames it on a pact between the Bushes and Clintons — something akin to the mutually-assured destruction mindset that prevailed during the Cold War between Russia and the United States.

“I’m convinced that both sides know that if they blow the other up, they’re both going to get it,” he said.

He didn’t stop there.

“Now, why aren’t these people (in the Obama Administration) doing anything about it?” he asked.  “Because they’re not doing a (expletive) thing about anything!”

‘The Unedited Versions are Somewhere’

Asked whether he thinks anyone still has copies of the pre-explosion surveillance-camera videotapes, he said, “The answer is ‘yes.’”

“I maintain that those tapes were edited, and there’s no question about it,” he said, referring to the tapes the FBI released to Trentadue.  “They were edited.  That means the unedited versions are somewhere, and that’s the key.  I think the FBI still has all of those tapes, and I don’t think we’re ever going to see ‘em.”

Why?  He explained without prompting.

“I’ve lost all faith in the Department of Justice,” he said.  “I’ve lost all faith in anything in Washington.”

Proof in a Wanted Poster?

John Doe 2 Profile

Amidst a pause, Schippers turned the table on the interviewer and asked how many times I had seen sketches of suspects on wanted posters.  I told him I had seen them often.

Then he asked, “Have you ever seen a profile?”  I said I had not, and he continued.

“Do you know why the drawing of the guy was a profile?  Because they took it off the tape,” he explained.  “That’s where it came from.  You never see a profile.  It’s always a front view.”

Except in this case.

Schippers said he talked to the people in Oklahoma City who gave the FBI information and that there is no question in his mind — and in Jayna’s mind — that the side view of Hussain Al-Hussaini bears a more-than-striking resemblance to the profile sketch of John Doe 2.

It’s likely, according to Davis’ law enforcement sources who she cannot name in order to protect them, the sketch was taken from the missing surveillance tape footage.

“Why would you edit tapes unless there was something on there that’s gonna blow you sky high?” he asked, his voice animated over the phone line.  “What’s on there, on those tapes that they showed, that they gave this guy?  It was either Hussain Al-Hussaini — he was the passenger — or just a Ryder truck with unidentified people in it.

“But that picture with the side view of him was so obvious that it was taken from the passenger side and that was him sitting in the front seat.”

The One Thing He Wanted to Share

Asked what one thing he would share with the world about the matter of the missing pre-attack surveillance-camera footage from downtown OKC, Schippers pulled no punches.

“It would be that there is absolutely no question that those tapes existed and, if those tapes ever came forward, they would show conclusively that there was an Iraqi connection to the bombing and that there was an Iraqi sitting in the passenger seat of that truck as it pulled up to the Murrah building and that there was an Iraqi who jumped out with McVeigh and ran like hell.”

“There’s a reason they’re not releasing it,” he continued.  “There were two cameras in one place.   They released (footage from) one that shows a hazy picture of a Ryder truck going by.  The other one would have been in such a position as to show everything about it — who’s in the front seat, the whole works.  And that’s the one that hasn’t surfaced.”

While his high-profile work on Capitol Hill was important, Schippers said he would “without question” prefer to be remembered for his work with Davis rather than his involvement with the impeachment of a president.

“I’d take Jayna anytime.”

Copyright © 2009 Bob McCarty.  All rights reserved.  Reprint permission required.

Best-Selling Author, Investigative Journalist Breaks Silence About OKC Bombing Video Tapes (3/3)

Copyright © 2009 Bob McCarty. All rights reserved. Reprint permission required.

In an editor’s note at the end of a post published yesterday, I informed readers of this blog that I had attempted to contact Jayna Davis for her take on a breaking news story related to the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on the morning of April 19, 1995. This morning, I became the first journalist in four years to speak with Davis about the investigation of the bombing, a subject with which she became all too familiar during a decade-long investigation.

At the time of the bombing, Davis was an award-winning investigative reporter for NBC affiliate KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City. Unlike other journalists, who’ve attributed the horrific attack fully to so-called “domestic terrorists” Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, Davis turned up details which pointed a share of the blame to a man of Middle East origin; hence, the title of the book she went on to write, The Third Terrorist, which made it to The New York Times Best Sellers list with the help of then-upstart conservative talk show host Glenn Beck.

The Third Terrorist by Jayna DavisBecause I had spoken with Davis by phone years earlier on an unrelated matter, she responded favorably to my request for her reaction to the content of a NewsOK.com article published yesterday under the headline, Attorney: Oklahoma City bombing tapes appear edited.

After explaining how and why she was so woefully disappointed with the content of the story, Davis forwarded to me a three-page summary of more than 700 pages of investigatory findings related to the surveillance camera footage. Below, I share the third of three installments of that summary:

Murrah Building videotape

By Jayna Davis, author of The Third Terrorist

There remains one additional videotape which could have potentially captured Timothy McVeigh and John Doe 2 as they parked the explosives-laden Ryder truck.  This security camera was positioned on the northeast side of the Murrah Building and had tape been rolling, it would have provided an instant replay of the crime and all those involved.

In the fall of 2000, I scoured through thousands of photographs taken by journalists, bystanders, first responders, and the bombing memorial archives searching for the earliest images of the bombed out building. I found one photograph that clearly showed the camera mounted above the first floor of the Murrah complex on the northeast side of the building.   The lens was trained directly on the area where McVeigh parked the bomb truck.

In a sworn affidavit, an Oklahoma City police officer who commanded the search and rescue canine unit stated that he witnessed the FBI removing the surveillance cameras from the exterior of the Murrah Building. Those cameras were stripped by one o’clock in the afternoon on April 19, just four hours after the blast.

So here’s the $64,000 question:  Was there tape rolling in the record deck of the Murrah Building surveillance system on the day of the bombing, and did that particular tape survive the blast?  I can provide only a partial answer.  I know for a fact that the recording device for the Murrah Building video surveillance system was located in the basement of the federal courthouse. The courthouse was positioned south of the Murrah Building and was shielded from the tremendous impact of the explosion.   So if there was videotape in the recorder, it would have remained intact.

I spoke to employees of the General Services Administration who led me to believe that federal budget cutbacks rendered the cost of record tapes prohibitive, so there would not have been a videocassette rolling on April 19.   However, that excuse does not hold up to scrutiny.   Prior to the bombing, the federal government purchased a state of the art security system for the Murrah Building and installed an extra surveillance camera on the ground floor outside the GSA office due to a “known security risk to employees.”

So why could Uncle Sam not afford the nominal expenditure for a video library of tapes that would document events in and around the federal complex on a twenty-four hour cycle? I never received a satisfactory answer to that question.

Surveillance tapes permanently sealed

In late 2001, U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch, who presided over the bombing trials, ruled in favor of the Justice Department request to seal all twenty-two tapes recovered from downtown businesses surrounding the Murrah Building.   To this day, the content of those recordings remains unknown.

The federal judge in the FOIA lawsuit implored Judge Matsch to lift the “shroud of secrecy” and release the tapes.  But I guess now, that will never happen.

(Note: Ask Marin about the amicus brief filed by CBS News in 2001 urging the unsealing of the surveillance tapes.  I did not receive a copy of the brief.  It obviously did not impact Judge Richard Matsch’s decision to keep the tapes under seal.)

Jesse Trentadue FOIA lawsuit for surveillance tapes

The surveillance tapes released in response to attorney Jesse Trentadue’s lawsuit do not address the above-referenced recordings of the events leading up to detonation of the Murrah Building bomb, as the clock ticked closer to 9:02 am April 19, 1995.

Click here to read Part One of Three (1/3).

Click here to read Part Two of Three (2/3).

Copyright © 2009 Bob McCarty. All rights reserved. Reprint permission required.

SEE ALSO: Attorney Says Unedited Versions of the Oklahoma City Bombing Surveillance Tapes Are ‘Somewhere’, published Sept. 30, 2009.

Video Raises New Doubts About Oklahoma City Bombing Evidence, Investigation (Update)

Almost four months ago, I used the headline of a post on this blog to declare, “It’s Time for Government to Reopen Investigations Into TWA Flight 800, Oklahoma City Bombing.”  Today, news of more evidence related to the latter incident appeared on the web site of Oklahoma’s largest daily newspaper. NewsOK.com article.

The Third Terrorist by Jayna DavisThe evidence in question takes shape in the form of footage missing from several security cameras near the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building in downtown Oklahoma City.  The lead paragraph of a NewsOK.com article published today summarizes things well:

Long-secret security tapes showing the chaos immediately after the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building are blank in the minutes before the blast and appear to have been edited, an attorney who obtained the recordings said Sunday.

Jesse Trentadue, the Salt Lake City attorney who obtained the footage through the Freedom of Information Act, spells out more problems with the footage a few paragraphs later:

“Four cameras in four different locations going blank at basically the same time on the morning of April 19, 1995. There ain’t no such thing as a coincidence,” Trentadue said.

Developing…

[Editor's Note: After reading the article and watching the video, I contacted Jayna Davis.  An award-winning investigative reporter for NBC affiliate KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City at the time of the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995, Davis went on to write the book, The Third Terrorist, containing details from her personal investigation of the attack.  That book, by the way, made it to The New York Times Best Sellers list.  Her investigation of what happened differs greatly from the official government version of events.]

[UPDATE 9/28/09 11:14 a.m. Central: This morning, I became the first journalist of any ilk to whom Jayna Davis has spoken about the case in four years.  During the next 24 hours, I will share details about never-before-published information about surveillance camera footage related to the Oklahoma City bombing.  These details arrived in the form of a three-page document Davis e-mailed to me this morning.  Stay tuned.]

[UPDATE 9/28/09 5:32 a.m. Central: Late this afternoon, I published a three-part series based upon materials provided by and conversations with Jayna Davis, author of The Third Terrorist.  To read part one, click here.]