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Are FBI Informants Working Inside America’s Churches?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Two years ago today, I shared the news below for the first time. In light of the fact that a verdict is imminent in the Oklahoma City Bombing Trial that’s been taking place in federal court in Salt Lake City recently (yes, it’s true), I decided to share it again with only minor modifications.

Click on image above to download document (PDF).

Click on image above to download document (PDF).

Jesse Trentadue’s ongoing effort to obtain information from the FBI continued this week when he filed a motion (PDF) aimed at convincing a federal judge in Utah to allow him access to information about the FBI’s “Sensitive Informant Program.  The move was made one month after the Salt Lake City attorney filed his first motion (PDF) seeking, among other things, to learn whether the FBI has informants working inside American churches.

Why is Trentadue seeking the information?  Because he believes it will lead him closer to the truth about the 1995 death of his brother, Kenneth Trentadue, under suspicious circumstances while in custody at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City.

Below, I share the fascinating details of his most-recent motion (PDF).  Beginning with the “Background” which begins on page one of the document, the details contained in the document appear below, minus the footnotes contained in the actual document (PDF):

The FBI devotes a considerable portion of the Memorandum that it submitted in opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion to arguing that this is a typical Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) case involving the adequacy of the FBI’s search for responsive documents and/or the applicability of the exemptions claimed by the FBI for not releasing the documents/records.  But this is not a typical FOIA case. Neither is it an isolated or stand alone case. This case, as the FBI well knows, is the latest front in Plaintiff’s long war with the Bureau to discover and uncover the truth about the Oklahoma City Bombing and a related matter: the murder of his brother, Kenneth Michael Trentadue.

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

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

The first battle in this almost decade long FOIA war was fought before this very Court in Trentadue v. FBI, which revealed that persons other that Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols and Michael Fortier had participated in the Bombing. That first battle, and the documents/records that Plaintiff obtained as a result, also disclosed: (1) the existence of the FBI’s I-Drive and S-Drive computer systems wherein evidence related to the Bombing was kept hidden so as not to be subject to a FOIA request and/or not made part of the FBI’s official Bombing case file; (2) the CIA’s involvement in the Oklahoma City Bombing; (3) “Patriot Conspiracy” or “PATCON” that was a decade or more long FBI undercover operation designed to infiltrate and monitor or perhaps even incite various right-wing organizations; and (4) the existence of a surveillance camera videotape taken on the morning of April 19, 1995, which according to federal government documents purportedly shows not only the destruction of the Alfred P. Murrah Building, but also the persons who carried out that attack.  That first FOIA battle also disclosed the existence of the FBI’s “Sensitive Informant Program,” which is at the heart of this current FOIA discovery dispute.

The Sensitive Informant Program is the FBI’s disturbing practice of using private citizens as spies on the staffs of members of Congress and perhaps even federal judges, in the national media, within other federal agencies, on defense teams in high profile federal and/or state criminal prosecutions, inside state and local law enforcement agencies and even among the clergy of organized religions. The Sensitive Informant Program is designed to and does result in the circumvention of the protections guaranteed to American citizens by the Bill of Rights and the Separation of Powers Doctrine.

In response to Plaintiff’s FOIA request for the policies, rules, protocols and/or procedures governing the FBI’s recruitment and use of such informants in this secret surveillance program which spies on United States’ citizens on United States’ soil, the FBI produced 205 pages, which appear to be but a small portion of its: “Corporate Policy Directive” on the use of confidential human sources, “Confidential Human Source Validation Standards Manual,” “Confidential Human Source Policy Manual,” and “Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide” (collectively the “Manual”). Those portions of the Manual that the FBI actually provided to Plaintiff were heavily redacted. The FBI withheld all of these portions of the Manual on the basis of various exemptions from disclosure under FOIA.

It is Plaintiff’s belief, however, that NO exemption can be asserted to conceal this unconstitutional domestic spy/surveillance program. Simply put, FOIA, which has as its stated purpose the disclosure of the federal government’s wrongdoing, cannot and should not be used to shield the FBI’s unconstitutional actions undertaken on what appears to be a national scale. However, in order to properly frame and present to the Court his challenge to the FBI’s claims of exemption Plaintiff needs to conduct limited discovery into the scope and duration of this Sensitive Informant Program.

In the “Summary of the Argument,” beginning on page four of the motion (PDF), he presents the latest details:

Plaintiff’s need for this discovery is simple. If, for example, the FBI has never embedded a Sensitive Informant on the staff of a member of Congress and/or a federal judge, in the national media, within another federal agency, on the defense team in high profile federal and/or state criminal prosecution, inside of a state or local law enforcement agency or among the clergy of an organized religion, it will admittedly be difficult for Plaintiff to assert that NO FOIA exemptions should apply to those portions of the Manual being withheld from him. This is so because a rare or isolated violation of the Constitution by the use of Sensitive Informants may not be sufficient for the Court to override the FBI’s exemption claims.

However, if the FBI’s Sensitive Informant program has been in operation for years and/or involves the placement of many Sensitive Informants on the staffs of members of Congress and perhaps even federal judges, in the national media, within other federal agencies, on defense teams in high profile federal and/or state criminal prosecutions, inside state and local law enforcement agencies or among the clergy of organized religions, then it is obvious that the Manual is designed to and/or does result in the circumvention of the protections guaranteed to American citizens by the Bill of Rights and the Separation of Powers Doctrine. If this is so, then it is Plaintiff’s position that the FBI cannot lawfully assert any FOIA exemption to keep secret a clearly unconstitutional nationwide program of domestic spying.

The information that Plaintiff’s seeks by way of this discovery will also be necessary for the Court to determine whether the (b)(1) exemption claimed by the FBI applies. Exemption (b)(1) allows the FBI to exempt certain records provided it declares them “secret” on the basis of national security AND pursuant to an Executive Order allowing for that “secret” designation.

In order to obtain information with respect to the scope and duration of the FBI’s Sensitive Informant Program, Plaintiff has moved to conduct limited discovery consisting of just eleven (11) Interrogatories, the answers to which will document the unconstitutionality of the FBI’s Sensitive Informant Program, thereby allowing Plaintiff to challenge the FBI’s assertion of FOIA exemptions to conceal and/or withhold the Manual from Plaintiff and the American public, and the Court to determine the validity/applicability of those exemptions to the Manual. The FBI, however, vehemently opposes that Motion.

Of course, there is a lot more to the case, but Trentadue’s approach, summed up under the “ISSUE” section of the motion (PDF) and shared below, seems brilliant to this non-lawyer:

The issue in this case is not the adequacy of the FBI’s search for the Manual. The FBI found the Manual. The issue for the Court to decide is (1) whether the FOIA exemptions advanced by the FBI for withholding portions of the Manual apply and (2), even if they do apply, can those exemptions be lawfully asserted to conceal FBI activities that clearly subvert the Constitution? Furthermore, this issue cannot and should not be decided without the discovery that Plaintiff is seeking to obtain through his Motion to Conduct Limited Discovery.

During an email exchange March 1, 2013, Trentadue used layman’s terms to boil the matter down to one key issue: “The FBI argues that the discovery (he) seeks would be futile since ‘illegal’ activity by the federal government is shielded from disclosure under FOIA if covered by an exemption.”

He went on to question how the FBI can, in good faith, claim that a national security exemption allows the Bureau to declare its unconstitutional domestic spying program “secret” and, in turn, allows them to keep their illegal activities hidden from the public.

“It is an absurd — no, arrogant — position for the FBI to take,” he said.

Stay tuned for details about how this case turns out.  Also, be sure to read other articles in my series, UNTOLD STORIES of the OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBING. If you like reading about the FBI, order a copy of my first crime-fiction novel, The National Bet (November 2014), in which an FBI agent plays the role of a hero.

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!

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

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Sniper: ‘I believed I had the ability to change the playing field’

When I asked a former Army Green Beret how many kills he had recorded as a sniper during three tours of duty in Iraq, he used a lot of words to explain how such numbers can be hard to tally but never gave me an actual number. He did, however, tell me this:  “For me it wasn’t the numbers. I went back over and over because I believed I had the ability to change the playing field.”

Former Army Green Beret Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart in Iraq.

Former Army Green Beret Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart in Iraq.

While those words may sound like words spoken by the late Chris Kyle, whose legendary exploits as a Navy SEAL during four tours of duty in Iraq are portrayed in the blockbuster film, American Sniper, they were not. Instead, they were shared with me during an online conversation two days ago with Kelly Stewart, the former Army Green Beret sniper — and, later, sniper instructor  — whose life story is chronicled in my first nonfiction book, Three Days In August.

After watching the Clint Eastwood-directed American Sniper and after getting to know Stewart during 18 months spent researching, conducting interviews and writing Three Days In August and since the release of the book in October 2011, I stand by the admittedly-biased opinion I shared in my most-recent weekly recap — that is, that Stewart’s story, as it appears in Three Days In August, would make a better film than American Sniper.

How did I reach that conclusion? Allow me to explain.

American Sniper failed to deliver the kind of emotional impact I had anticipated. When I walked out of the theater, I felt as if I had not had been robbed in an odd sort of way that has nothing to do with the prices of tickets, drinks or snacks at the theater.

Maybe it’s because I’m so much closer to Stewart that I experienced a plethora of emotions — anger, sympathy and frustration, just to name a few — while working on Three Days In August. When you read the book, I think you’ll experience many of the same emotions — especially in a few select sections of the book.

Kelly A. Stewart's uniform was covered with signs of his life as a Top One Percent Special Forces Soldier.

Kelly A. Stewart’s uniform was covered with signs of his life as a Top One Percent Special Forces Soldier.

During the courtroom scene, as Stewart faces a possible life sentence, you’ll applaud him for refusing to answer questions from the prosecutor when, by answering those questions in an open courtroom, he would have revealed classified information and violated his code of conduct.

You might find yourself having a hard time deciding what advice to give Stewart following his moment of decision after the court-martial panel issues its verdict at the end of the second day of the military trial.

And you might find yourself welling up with pride for Stewart while reading the chapter, The Last Mission In Iraq. In that chapter, a Green Beret describes serving with Stewart for eight months in 2006 when both were members of a Special Operations Task Force Operations Detachment Alpha (a.k.a., “A-Team”). It includes this description of a scene in which Stewart embodied the prototypical war hero portrayed by actors like John Wayne and Sylvester Stallone in so many movies over the years:

“I had to put down my gun in order to treat this casualty, but there were still bullets flying around—buzzing around our heads like bees, quite literally. So that was hard for me to do, but (Kelly) reassured me that he had me covered. Kelly stood over the top of me and the casualty pretty much the whole time on the way back out of Sadr City, and it was under intense fire.”

Click image above to order book.

Click image above to order book.

Of course, there’s much more inside the pages of Three Days In August. After reading this article and seeing who has endorsed the book, I hope you’ll order a copy.

WORTH NOTING: Due to the politically-correct environment that permeates Hollywood these days, I do not expect the story told in this book to appear on the silver screen anytime soon.

UPDATE 2/25/2015 at 1:24 p.m. Central:  A friend sent me a link to an article published under the headline, The Making of a Real American Sniper. It helps explain what Kelly Stewart told me as highlighted in the blue portion of this article’s lead paragraph. Hope you’ll read and share.

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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You’re Not Getting Any of My Chocolate!

I enjoy chocolate and politics, but I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s Day. Therefore, I decided to share some history that combines the first two topics with the commercialized holiday instead of sharing my chocolate.

This illustration by cartoonist Clifford Berryman appeared in the Washington Evening Star on February 14, 1907, and depicts some Valentine’s Day surprises based on then-current political issues.

This illustration by cartoonist Clifford Berryman appeared in the Washington Evening Star Feb. 14, 1907, and depicted Valentine’s Day surprises based on then-current political issues.

An illustration by cartoonist Clifford Berryman appeared in the Washington Evening Star Feb. 14, 1907, and depicted Valentine’s Day surprises based on then-current political issues, including tariffs, congressional staff salaries and defense-related matters.

This illustration by cartoonist Clifford Berryman appeared in the Washington Evening Star on Feb. 14, 1912, and offers some humorous Valentine cards placing major political figures at the time in some positions once difficult to imagine.

This illustration by cartoonist Clifford Berryman appeared in the Washington Evening Star Feb. 14, 1912, and offers some humorous Valentine’s Day cards placing major political figures at the time in positions then difficult to imagine.

A second illustration by cartoonist Clifford Berryman appeared in the Washington Evening Star Feb. 14, 1912, and offered humorous Valentine’s Day cards placing major political figures at the time in positions then difficult to imagine. A look at the cards show topis that remain at issue today, including politicians who love themselves more than anything else, an out-of-control judiciary, campaign promises and even the word, insurgent, in 1912!

This illustration by cartoonist Clifford Berryman appeared in the Washington Evening Star on Feb. 14, 1917, and depicts Woodrow Wilson’s confirmed re-election coming in the form of a Valentine’s Day card.

This illustration by cartoonist Clifford Berryman appeared in the Washington Evening Star Feb. 14, 1917, and depicts Woodrow Wilson’s confirmed re-election coming in the form of a Valentine’s Day card.

A third illustration by cartoonist Clifford Berryman appeared in the Washington Evening Star Feb. 14, 1917, and depicted Woodrow Wilson’s confirmed re-election coming in the form of a Valentine’s Day card.

This 1918 valentine refers to the World War I effort to economize on food for the war effort—called “Hooverizing” in honor of the U.S. Food Administrator, Herbert Hoover. From the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library.

This 1918 valentine refers to the World War I effort to economize on food for the war effort—called “Hooverizing” in honor of the U.S. Food Administrator Herbert Hoover. From the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library.

A 1918 Valentine, courtesy of the Hoover Presidential Library, referred to the World War I effort to economize on food for the war effort—called “Hooverizing” in honor of then-U.S. Food Administrator Herbert Hoover.

The graphics above, courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration website, make the presidents of a century ago seem pretty tame compared to the modern-day knuckleheads who’ve held the nation’s highest office.

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!

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

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