FBI Withholds Evidence and Documents
Documents Withheld by FBI in Flight 800 and Oklahoma Bombing Cases
Over 3,000 pages of documents were withheld by the FBI in the government's prosecution of Timothy McVeigh, and hundreds of similar documents were withheld from the National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) investigation into TWA Flight 800.[1, 2] The FBI was obligated to provide these documents to McVeigh's attorneys and was likewise federally mandated to provide many other documents to the NTSB, the lead agency in all civil airline disasters.
The FBI withheld the accounts of 278 witnesses from the NTSB for more than one year after the crash. All witness accounts with descriptions of a "streak" colliding with an aircraft were concealed from the NTSB in this withheld data.[1, 2] Also, the results of a study to determine the origin of an alleged surface-launched object seen before the crash were ostensibly lost by the FBI. Today, those results are officially listed as "unable to locate" by the FBI.
Flight 800 Independent Researchers Organization (FIRO) is attempting to obtain much of this information and has filed multiple lawsuits against the FBI and other federal agencies to help in that regard. The cases are pending in federal court in the eastern district of Massachusetts, where the group's FOIA monitor, Graeme Sephton, lives. Sephton, an engineer with a background in radar development, believes there is no valid reason for the government to have denied the information requested.
FIRO has filed numerous requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Many of their FOIA requests have been answered appropriately, but others have not.
The FBI could not locate forensic test results requested by FIRO. At least 89 crash victims were found with foreign objects imbedded in their bodies. The FBI took possession of each object and allegedly sent them for analyses. However, according to an FBI affidavit sent to Springfield, MA Federal District Court in October 2000, those analyses could not be found, even after a "thorough search."
FIRO is also planning to file suit for satellite information from the night of the crash. On the week of the crash, the London Times reported that "satellite pictures show an object racing up to the jet, passing it, changing course and smashing into it." Those pictures were never released to the NTSB for review.
Most troubling is that these do not appear to be isolated incidents. According to Senator Arlen Specter R-Pennsylvania, the FBI "withheld a lot of evidence" in the Wen Ho Lee case--the Los Alamos scientist charged with selling US military secrets to China. Specter also recalled an alleged attempt by the FBI to "cover-up of a shoot-to-kill order" at Ruby Ridge.
According to FBI Director Louis Freeh, there is a "fundamental problem" with record-keeping at the FBI. A thorough review of that problem may afford defense attorneys and the public access to information to which they are entitled, and may increase public confidence in our nation's top law enforcement agency.
1. Wiemeyer, N., Witness Group Chairman's Factual Report of Investigation. NTSB Public Hearing, Baltimore, MD, 1997.
2. Mayer, D., Witness Group Chairman's Factual Report. NTSB Public Docket, 2000.
3. Schiliro, L.D., August 25, 1998 letter from FBI Assistant Director Lewis D. Shiliro to NTSB regarding missing witness materials. NTSB Public Docket: Appendix EE of Witness Group Chairman Factual Report, 1998.
4. FBI, Affidavit. Springfield, MA Federal District Court, 2000.
5. Bone, J. and M. Evans, 'Streak of light' reports raise possibility of missile fired from ship, July 23, 1996. London Times, .
6. Specter, A., Interview. FOX News Sunday, 2001.
7. Freeh, L., May 16, 2001 Senate Testimony. US Senate, 2001.