U.S. District Court judge in Salt Lake City, Utah, has ordered the
Oklahoma City FBI office to turn over unredacted copies of all documents currently
at issue in a Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit involving additional evidence
and the names of additional conspirators in the Oklahoma City bombing case.
According to the judge, the materials would be reviewed in his chambers and
then returned to the FBI.
The order could also include evidence in the possession of the FBI
that might shed light on the mysterious death of an inmate, Kenny Trentadue,
who was being held at the Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City in 1995.
Contacted about whether the agency would comply with the order or appeal it,
FBI Special Agent Gary Johnson made a startling announcement. After
declining to comment on the civil matters involved in the Trentadue suit, Johnson
said the FBI was currently investigating the April 19, 1995, bombing.
In the past, Johnson has told the media that the FBI was standing by its original
investigation. "It was the most experienced and thorough in our history,"
The $85 million effort yielded only two federal convictions, Terry Nichols
and Tim McVeigh. Mike Fortier provided testimony against McVeigh and Nichols
in return for a reduced sentence.
Asked how many FBI agents were involved in the renewed effort, Johnson simply
commented: "We don't ever disclose that type of information."
Exactly when this investigation was opened and why remains unclear.
In 2000, the head of the original OKBOMB investigation, Danny Defenbaugh, told
an interviewer for a documentary film on the subject that, "The FBI will
never reopen the case, under any circumstances. Even if McVeigh calls and gives
us names," Defenbaugh stated, "we will never reopen it."
A civil suit filed by a Utah attorney may have flushed out new evidence of
a wider conspiracy in the bombing, forcing the agency to move forward with a
The deceased brother of a murdered inmate, Jesse Trentadue, sued the Oklahoma
City FBI office after attempting to obtain documents concerning the death of
his younger brother Kenny.
At the time of his death, Trentadue was being held in solitary confinement
in the Oklahoma City Federal Transfer Center, pending a hearing on his parole
status. The government has since claimed Trentadue killed himself.
Jesse Trentadue, an attorney in Salt Lake City, Utah, claims he has
found evidence that his brother was tortured and killed because federal agents
suspected him of involvement in the bombing conspiracy in Oklahoma City. Trentadue
received the information from a person close to McVeigh, who was waiting execution
at the time.
Additional evidence to support this claim could be available soon.
In an order dated Aug. 16, U.S. District Judge Dale A. Kimball directed the
parties to appear before him on Oct. 12 to present additional arguments on whether
the FBI is entitled to continue withholding evidence it may have of a wider
conspiracy in the matter n and much more.
Kimball also ordered the FBI to bring to court all unredacted copies of the
documents involved in the litigation for him to review in his chambers.
Trentadue's litigation thus far has uncovered links between McVeigh and several
subjects that frequented Elohim City, a paramilitary training camp in eastern
For a decade since the bombing, senior FBI agents and lawyers for the U.S.
Department of Justice have argued that they never had any evidence that persons
at Elohim City could be involved with McVeigh or the Oklahoma bombing.
But several weeks ago, a court order from Kimball forced the release of approximately
100 pages of documents by the Oklahoma City FBI office and some do indeed appear
to implicate others in the bombing.
However, the FBI has blacked out almost every name in those documents, along
with whole sentences of other information regarding an undercover operation
the FBI and others were involved with.
In the documents, the FBI also notes the agency is monitoring McVeigh and Elohim
City with the help of the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC is a tax-exempt
civil rights group that was co-founded by Alabama attorney Morris Dees.
Dees confirmed participation in a covert operation at Elohim City, but refused
to elaborate during an interview with this newspaper almost two years ago.
During the course of this litigation, Justice Department lawyers have also
argued that the individuals working for the SPLC and the FBI were promised anonymity
in return for their undercover work, thus their names were blacked out to protect
Trentadue has told the court that the public's interest in learning who killed
168 persons and injured 500 more in Oklahoma City in 1995, far outweighs the
FBI's interest in protecting the names of its informants n especially those
employed by a private organization.