Records show FBI practice of hiding evidence in secret databases

Published: Friday, May 13 2011 5:00 p.m. MDT

Just last month, a federal judge in the Central District of California called the FBI and its records manager David M. Hardy on the carpet for submitting false declarations in an attempt to conceal documents from plaintiffs in a FOIA case. Hardy also has been involved with Trentadue's FOIA request.

In that case, the FBI asserted authority to provide false information to the court.

"The government argues that there are times when the interests of national security require the government to mislead the court. The court strongly disagrees," wrote Judge Cormac J. Carney. "The government’s duty of honesty to the court can never be excused, no matter what the circumstance."

Wyer said that case isn't relevant in Trentadue because it doesn't involve national security.

All of those factors feed Trentadue's suspicion that FBI is concealing videotapes in his case. He believes the video will somehow help unravel what happened to his brother.

Kenneth Trentadue was a convicted bank robber who was taken to the federal transfer center in Oklahoma City after violating probation in San Diego in June 1995. His official cause of death was listed as suicide. But when his body was returned to the Trentadue family, it was covered with blood and bruises that Jesse Trentadue contends could have only come from a beating.

In a letter to Trentadue, the FBI said its search of the I-drive in the Oklahoma City field office yielded no records concerning him or his brother.

Still, Trentadue raised enough questions in court about how the FBI handles information requests that Waddoups ordered the agency to provide answers.

In addition to explaining the S-drive, the judge wants the FBI to prove it searched the I-drive. He wants Hardy and other FBI employees to indicate if they made truthful statements in the Trentadue case. He also wants the agency to address whether it searched evidence control centers in Oklahoma City and FBI headquarters and the FBI crime lab.

Finally, Waddoups ordered the FBI to explain how burdensome it would be to check the Oklahoma City bombing case file for entries in the two weeks after the explosion.

Trentadue said now that he knows about the different storage drives, his next FOIA request will specify searches of the A-drive, B-drive, C-drive, etc.

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com

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