Trial Monday on Production of Missing Video From OKC Bombing

Utah attorney Jesse Trentadue has been fighting for years to obtain videos referenced in Secret Service and FBI timelines of the Oklahoma City Bombing investigation. Trial in his FOIA lawsuit (see IntelFiles case page for background) begins tomorrow in federal court in Utah. Trentadue's brother Kenneth died in an Oklahoma detention facility in 1995. The government claimed his death was a suicide. Jesse says the condition of his brother's body shows it was murder.

On Monday, a three-day trial is scheduled to begin in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City on a lawsuit by lawyer Jesse Trentadue. He filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) seeking documents and videotapes from the bombing investigation — including one tape he believes shows two suspects exiting a Ryder truck parked in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and the detonation of explosives in the vehicle.


The suit claims the FBI failed to conduct a search reasonably calculated to locate all records in the agency’s possession. He is asking for an order allowing him to search for videotapes and documents at FBI locations, including field offices in Oklahoma City and Los Angeles, and requiring the agency to produce the records he requested.

Jesse theorizes Kenneth might have been mistaken for Richard Guthrie, who he believes is the real John Doe #2, that Kenneth was killed during an interrogation at the federal prison facility and officials then tried to cover it up making it look like a suicide. (Guthrie committed suicide in his jail cell after pleading guilty to a string of bank robberies and agreeing to testify against another robber. He left 2 suicide notes.) Trentadue's family has already been awarded $900,000 after a federal judge in Oklahoma found the government intentionally inflicted emotional distress on them by withholding information about Kenneth Trentadue's death.

The Government has always maintained there is no John Doe #2 and witnesses, both at the body shop where the truck was rented and at the Murrah building were mistaken. The FBI has always denied there was a John Doe #2, or that there is any video footage showing the truck parked in front of the Murrah building before the blast. None of the witnesses who claimed to have seen two people in the truck were called at the OKC bombing trials.

Here's what Trentadue asked for, and the question is, did it ever exist, and if so, why can't the FBI find it? And if not, why do the Secret Service and FBI timelines, describe it in such detail?

Surveillance tape(s) which a government document describes as showing "the Ryder truck pulling up to the Federal Building and then pausing (7-10 seconds) before resuming into a slot in the front of the building" and "the
truck detonation 3 minutes and 6 seconds after the
suspects exited the truck."( emphasis added).

The Secret Service and FBI timelines, which are exhibits in pleadings in Trentadue's lawsuit (you can view one here) say:

A witness to the explosion named Grossman claimed to have seen a pale yellow Mercury car with a Ryder truck behind it pulling up to the Federal Building. Mr. Grossman further claimed to have seen a woman on the corner waving to the truck. ATSAIC McNally noted that this fact is significant due to the fact that the security video 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. It is speculated that the woman was signaling the truck with a slot became available.

A catering truck driver who was traveling east just prior to the explosion noticed the Ryder truck in front of the Federal Building and saw two men leaving the vicinity of the truck and crossing the street heading for a brown pickup truck. The catering truck driver positively ID McVeigh. When questioned about his accuracy in detail, the driver admitted that he was gay and that. he was "checking out" McVeigh.

A few paragraphs later, the document says:

Security video takes from the area show the truck detonation 3 minutes and 6 seconds after the suspects exited the truck.

Note the plural use of "suspects."

The FBI turned over several other tapes, which Trentadue says have been altered, including those at the Journal Building.

Trentadue also wants the original video of McVeigh's arrest by Trooper Charlie Hangar. The version produced he says is edited, and leaves out images of a brown Chevy pickup truck passing by, which the license plate shows belongs to an acquaintance of McVeigh's. A witness at the Murrah building also described a brown Chevy pickup truck. The FBI first said the original Hangar tape was returned to the Oklahoma state patrol, and then said probably Trooper Hangar has the original. But there's no record of it being released back from evidence. It does not believe there are two versions of the tape and insists it has only seen the one without the cars passing by.

Until recently, the FBI maintained it searched and couldn't find the videos showing the Ryder truck at the Murrah building. A few weeks ago, for the first time, it claimed it has witnesses (agents from the bombing investigation) who will testify such tapes don't exist. Trentadue sought to exclude the "11th hour evidence" with the FBI's new theory, and the Court agreed with him. It ruled the FBI may be allowed to present them as rebuttal witnesses.

For more details on the eyewitness accounts of two persons in the Ryder truck, and other inconsistencies in the FBI investigation, I recommend Andrew Gumbel and Roger Charles' book, "Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed and Why It Still Matters." Here is a review with a synopsis. I've never been a believer in the book's theory that members of Elohim City were involved in the bombing, but the book's account of the investigation, description of documents and interviews of agents, prosecutors and defense counsel are excellent. The book cites 24 witnesses in all who believe they saw John Doe #2 with McVeigh, and asks whether it is likely all 24 were wrong. Especially considering the Government never called any witnesses to testify they saw McVeigh at the Murrah building -- let alone saw him by himself.

McVeigh always denied there was a "John Doe #2" or second person with him in the truck. The Government thinks reports to the contrary are the product of faulty eye-witness accounts, kooks or conspiracy theorists.

The videos Trentadue seeks are important, not just to Trentadue, but to the American public, who have an interest in knowing whether McVeigh and Terry Nichols acted alone or were part of a larger conspiracy, and whether the FBI's investigation was reliable. This was, prior to 9/11, the largest act of terrorism in U.S. history and at the time, the largest federal criminal investigation since the assassination of JFK.

When the Government killed McVeigh, it also killed the best chance for one day learning the truth from him. The tapes and documents Trentadue has obtained and still seeks may provide additional clues. It should be the duty of our highest law enforcement agency to respond with more than "Take our word for it. We looked, we can't find them."

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  • Display: Sort:
    Isn't it odd (1.00 / 1) (#3)
    by beefeater on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 07:50:58 PM EST
    That the entire post only refers to "The Government" and not to the Clinton/Reno administration and their rush to cover up and execute McVeigh?

    You just know if this had occurred with a Republican in the White House there would be a different slant.

    Not so odd (none / 0) (#4)
    by Yman on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 08:13:32 PM EST
    The lawsuit in question covers government actions during the Clinton and Bush administrations (including the execution of McVeigh), so to the extent you believe there was a "cover up" it would apply to both.

    OTOH, Clinton/Reno/Bush/Ashcroft/Gonzales does get a bit wordy ...


    Maybe some places, but not here (none / 0) (#5)
    by Jack203 on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 08:14:00 PM EST
    I am failing to see a reasonable motive for a cover-up.

    Without a clear motive is beginning the at-bat with two strikes against you.


    That's why it was Ashcroft who was around.... (none / 0) (#6)
    by magster on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 09:03:44 PM EST
    to execute him and released thousands of pages of docs only in the month prior to the execution.

    The Government is how (none / 0) (#7)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 11:25:10 PM EST
    federal prosecutors are referred to in court pleadings and court decisions. I used "FBI" to refer to the agency, and "the Government" to refer to DOJ and prosecutors. Read any decision, it's always "The Government maintains", "The Government's argument" etc. This post is about legal proceedings and the FBI investigation, not politics.

    The Attorney General of the U.S. runs the Justice Department. U.S. Attorneys (prosecutors) and the FBI are both in the Justice Department. In June, 2001, when McVeigh was executed, the Attorney General was John Ashcroft, appointed by Bush who took office in January, 2001.


    Another suspicious death... (none / 0) (#1)
    by unitron on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 06:53:36 PM EST
    ...connected to the bombing of the Murrah building is that of Sgt. Terrance Yeakey.

    Googled the Sgt.... (none / 0) (#2)
    by magster on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 07:16:52 PM EST
    Never heard of this story. His death does sound weird.

    To put it mildly... (none / 0) (#8)
    by unitron on Tue Jul 29, 2014 at 02:10:54 AM EST
    And as far as I know totally unrelated, but Google "Ray Lemme florida voting software" for more "sure does sound strange".