The EyeOpener: Secret FBI Storage Drive to Shield Evidence from FOIA?
June 20, 2011
J. Edgar Hoover’s Ghost Still Lingers over the FBI
Welcome. This is James Corbett with your Eyeopener report from BoilingFrogsPost.com. And now for the real news.
A recent court case in Utah has uncovered yet more evidence that the FBI is hiding key documents from the public by placing them in a separate, hitherto unknown electronic storage medium known as an “S-drive.” The fact that this drive was previously unknown has raised the specter that the FBI are using it as a place to hide requests for sensitive documents through the Freedom of Information Act. Now, a federal judge has given the FBI until the end of the month to explain what the S-drive is, how it is being used, and whether it contains key documents related to the case in question.
The case concerns Salt Lake City-based lawyer Jesse Trentadue, who has been investigating the death of his brother, Kenneth Trentadue, at an Oklahoma Federal Transfer facility in 1995. The government has maintained his brother’s death was a suicide by hanging, despite the fact that his brutalized corpse revealed him to have been beaten to death, with cuts and bruises all over his body. Numerous irregularities in the wake of Trentadue’s death were suggestive of a coverup, from the government’s unprecedented offer to cremate the body before it was sent to the family at its own expense to the fact that the coroner was not allowed to examine the cell until it had been washed, to the fact that the visitor logs from the facility on the night of the death had been destroyed. Subsequent investigations uncovered leaked documents showing that the cover-up went all the way up the chain of command to Eric Holder, currently Obama’s attorney general.
Originally baffled by the extent of the cover-up, several tips, including one from Timothy McVeigh himself, led Jesse Trentadue to the understanding that his brother had been transferred to an Oklahoma transfer facility because he fit the description of the so-called John Doe No. 2 in the Oklahoma City bombing case. Since that time, Trentadue has been suing the FBI to try to pry more information about the OKC investigation from the agency’s vaults.
Among the documents he is pursuing are the surveillance tapes from the Murrah Building itself, which were being stored off-site and thus were not damaged in the blast. These tapes, which sources connected to the investigation have told the LA Times and other major media outlets that they have seen, are purported to show the approach of the Ryder Truck to the building, and also show Timothy McVeigh’s accomplice getting out of the truck.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, the FBI is not required to say if a document exists, only that they searched their database and found no records responsive to the request. If these documents are placed in an external or disconnected storage drive, however, the agency can insure that they will never show up in any FOIA request.
In fact, the FBI has been known to have used this very technique in the past. Going under such names as “June files,” “zero files” and “I-drive,” the agency has a long and documented history of placing key evidence in special, compartmentalized files that are reviewed by senior officials before the information is placed into the bureau’s official files.
Joining me earlier this week to discuss the history and significance of the FBI’s secret storage drives was attorney Jesse Trentadue.
Critics of the FBI have long noted how the bureau under J. Edgar Hoover’s leadership sanitized files to hide potentially embarrassing information about the FBI and its agents from the public.
In a conversation with The Corbett Report last week, Coleen Rowley, the former privacy act coordinator at the Minneapolis FBI field office and noted FBI whistleblower, confirmed the sordid history of the FBI’s attempts to conceal information from the public and reveals other methods that keep key records from being accessed through FOIA requests.
Spokespersons for the bureau have so far refused to comment to the press about the S-drive story, citing the ongoing litigation. The court order requires them to present a full explanation of the use of these document storage systems to federal court by June 30th. For more on this story, stay tuned to boilingfrogspost.com and corbettreport.com.
[Ed.: See also Jesse Trentadue’s site at KennethTrentadue.com and for more accurate information on the Murrah Building bombing, the official site of the Oklahoma Bombing Investigation Committee at OKCBombing.net.]