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Thursday, March 30, 2006
Four Informants Told FBI Of Additional OKC Bombing Plotters
In Redacted Documents And Court Filings, FBI Admits To Undercover Informant In Case; Judge Orders New Searches
The FBI has admitted withholding information about informants who claimed Timothy McVeigh had additional accomplices in the Oklahoma City bombing, and a federal judge yesterday ordered the Bureau to perform new searches for documents relating to the case.
The 22-page ruling by Judge Dale Kimball in Trentadue v. FBI ordered the FBI to perform two new searches for specific documents, setting the stage for new disclosures about the Oklahoma City case, more than 10 years after the April 19, 1995 bombing which claimed the lives of 168 people.
Full text of ruling
Filings in the case also revealed the existence of at least four informants who were part of the Oklahoma City bombing investigation, including the one working undercover and another under an explicit confidentiality agreement.
The lawsuit was filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which compels the government to disclose information at the request of the public. The plaintiff, attorney Jesse Trentadue, began seeking information on the Oklahoma City bombing after the death of his brother, Kenneth Trentadue.
Jesse Trentadue believes his brother's death is related to the Oklahoma City case. In yesterday's ruling, Kimball noted in his ruling that Trentadue had "unearthed significant evidence of foul play" regarding his brother's death in a federal penitentiary, which was initially ruled a suicide.
Trentadue's suit sought to expose details of the FBI's investigation of white supremacists who may have been connected with the Oklahoma City bombing. Only two individuals have ever come to trial for perpetrating the Oklahoma City bombing -- Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. A third suspect, Michael Fortier, pleaded guilty to lesser charges and testified against the others in exchange for a lesser sentence.
FBI ADMITS FOUR INFORMANTS
Despite the FBI's long insistence that McVeigh and Nichols acted alone, substantial evidence has emerged over the years supporting the idea of a wider conspiracy. Additional and highly credible suspects have been documented in extensive media reporting and dozens of previously hidden FBI documents.
The documents sought in the Trentadue lawsuit identify suspects connected with the Michigan Militia; Elohim City, a white supremacist compound along the Oklahoma-Arkansas border; and the "Aryan Republican Army," a gang of white supremacist bank robbers (related story by J.M. Berger for the Rotten Library).
Media reports have outlined substantial links between McVeigh and various individuals associated with Elohim City and the "Aryan" bank robbers. These reports include several stories by John Solomon of the Associated Press, extensive reporting by J.D. Cash of the McCurtain (Oklahoma) Gazette and a exhaustively researched book, In Bad Company, by criminology professor Mark S. Hamm.
Throughout the case, the FBI has employed a variety of strategies to avoid making any disclosures about the investigation. Initially, the Burueau claimed it could not find the requested documents. Kimball ruled that the FBI had not reasonably attempted to locate the documents.
The FBI then claimed that some of the requested documents did not exist. Trentadue proved that claim false by providing the court with redacted copies of some cited documents, which had been supplied to him by an anonymous source.
Finally, in July of 2005, the FBI produced 17 heavily redacted documents in response to Trentadue's request, citing various exemptions under FOIA. Kimball ordered the Bureau to provide him with unredacted copies of the requested documents so that he could verify the legitimacy of the claimed exemptions.
The names of four informants were redacted from the 17 documents, according FBI FOIA administrator David Hardy, writing in an affidavit filed October 17, 2005. The informants provided information that was "related and relevant to the FBI's investigation of the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City."
One of the informants, Hardy wrote, was "interacting directly, undercover" with "organizations and individuals known or suspected to be violent and possibly engaged in domestic terrorism." Another informant provided information under an explicit confidentiality agreement, Hardy wrote.
Full text of Hardy affidavit
Although yesterday's ruling allows the FBI to continue to withhold substantial information contained in the documents, it provided new details about the redacted material.
AUGUST 1995 TELETYPE
An August 1995 FBI teletype contains an informant's allegation "that an individual -- whose name is redacted -- may have assisted McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombing," Kimball wrote.
According to the teletype (available on INTELWIRE in redacted form), unidentified individuals at Elohim City possessed explosive devices which they intended to use on various targets around the U.S. The source of the allegation is an informant whose name was redacted.
The teletype describes meetings held to discuss the bombing plans. The participants in the meetings are identified in the original document, but their names have been redacted in the public copy. A specific individual is named as a possible accomplice to McVeigh.
"[redacted name] also indicated that [redacted name] may have assisted McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombing," the teletype reads.
Trentadue initially believed the document contained references to a known FBI informant, Shawn Kenney (related story, external link). In his ruling, Kimball noted that the informant in the teletype is not Kenney, raising the prospect of a hitherto unknown figure in the already convoluted case.
APRIL 26, 1995 TELETYPE
An April 26, 1995 FBI teletype was also discussed in the ruling.
"The plaintiff claims that this document indicates that there was an undercover operative in with Timothy McVeigh and members of the various militia groups who aided and supported McVeigh, but (he) wonders why, given the subject matter, there are no earlier records that have been produced by the FBI. (Trentadue) also wonders why there is no FD-302 report of this informant when the document itself indicates that an FBI agent is ordered to interview the informant."
These are "very good questions" Kimball noted, without ordering specific relief.
The redacted April 25 teletype, which has been reviewed by INTELWIRE, states than an individual whose name is redacted was "acting in various undercover capacities for the purposes of gathering intelligence for that organization." The name of the organization is also redacted.
April 1995 Teletype (starts on Page 11)
One or more individuals connected with the Michigan Militia are discussed in the teletype, including one who "bares [sic] a close resemblance" to a suspect in the Oklahoma City bombing, apparently a reference to the infamous "John Doe #2" police sketch distributed by the FBI after the bombing. The Bureau later disavowed the existence of such a suspect.
The "close resemblance" individual attended a Christian Identity movement rally that took place shortly after the bombing.
According to the teletype, another individual (name redacted) with the Michigan Militia was implicated in the bombing "particular to the conspiratorial nature of this investigation," according to information obtained from an informant whose name was, of course, redacted.
According to the teletype, McVeigh was also tied to an Arizona militia group known as the "Constitution Rangers," or the "Arizona Patriots."
MORE DOCUMENTS TO COME
Trentadue "argues that the FBI and the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit organization investigating hate groups, jointly conducted a sting operation involving an informant or informants" at Elohim City, Kimball wrote. The SPLC is a non-profit organization investigating hate groups. The FOIA requests at issue seek documents referring "directly or indirectly" to the Center or its head, Morris Dees.
Several of the documents (available on INTELWIRE) reference the SPLC and information obtained through individuals associated with the Center.
When the FBI claimed it could not find documents responsive to Trentadue's FOIA request, the Bureau did not search for documents within the Oklahoma City bombing case file containing the acronym SPLC and it did not search under the name Morris Dees.
Yesterday's ruling orders the FBI to perform the requested searches and report the results, which may yield a substantial number of additional documents.
Judge Kimball also questioned the FBI's failure to find documents specifically cited to in the 17 redacted files the FBI produced in July.
"(I)t is troubling that so many of the documents produced by the FBI refer to FD-302s that were or should have been prepared, and the disclosed documents also refer to other attachments that at one time appear to have accompanied the documents, yet those documents have not been produced," Kimball wrote. "While the FBI's failure to discover documents is not in itself a sign of bad faith, it is puzzling that so many documents could be referenced but not produced." (Emphasis in original.)
Although Kimball did not order further searches, he encouraged Trentadue to follow up on the documents referenced in the July release with further FOIA requests.
McVeigh appears to have visited Elohim City on at least one occasion. On the evening of September 12, 1994, hotel receipts show that McVeigh stayed the night in Vian, Oklahoma, a short drive from Elohim City.
The FBI also found a speeding ticket McVeigh received "just 12 miles from the compound," according to the Associated Press. Elohim City is at least 20 miles from the nearest town, according to media reports and testimony presented in the trial of Terry Nichols, the only accomplice of McVeigh to stand trial for a role in the bombing.
Kendall also ordered portions of some documents to be unredacted. Updated versions of those files will be provided on INTELWIRE as they become available.
THE DEATH OF KENNETH TRENTADUE
Trentadue, a Salt Lake City attorney, became involved in the lawsuit after the death of his brother, Kenneth Trentadue, while in custody at the Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City on Aug. 21, 1995. Kenneth Trentadue's death was initially declared a suicide by prison officials, but the family discovered signs of numerous injuries when preparing him for burial. The family was awarded more than $1 million after winning a wrongful death suit against the government.
Jesse Trentadue's lawsuit over the FBI's disclosure stems from a belief that his brother was killed because of his resemblance to Richard Lee Guthrie, a white supremacist and bank robber who has been credibly linked to the Oklahoma City bombing by numerous reports, including those from the Associated Press, J.D. Cash of the McCurtain Gazette and In Bad Company, a 2001 book by criminology professor Mark S. Hamm.
Guthrie was later apprehended by authorities. Just days before he was scheduled to testify against one of his accomplices in the bank robbery gang, Guthrie was found dead of a purported suicide in his cell. His alleged means of suicide was hanging -- the same cause of death originally cited by prison officials for Kenneth Trentadue.
Jesse Trentadue has provided numerous documents to INTELWIRE related to his lawsuit, including:
Redacted FBI documents on the Oklahoma City bombing
Full text of Hardy affidavit
April 1995 Teletype (starts on Page 11)
March 29, 2006 ruling by Judge Dale Kimball
Additionally, INTELWIRE has independently obtained more than 90 pages of ATF documents relating to Richard Guthrie:
Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.
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