The Federal Bureau of Investigation: A legendary department in rotten decay

Published 15 years ago -  - 15y ago 4


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Image courtesy of Dave Newman under CC BY 2.0.

For most Americans the Federal Bureau of Investigation ranked up there with motherhood and cherry pie. They were a legend, clean as the fabled hound’s tooth – an investigative agency whose work went unchallenged. Like the Canadian Mounties, they always got their man. Their state-of-the art crime laboratories, their sophisticated investigative techniques and the dedication of their agents in the field to leave no stone unturned made them an unparalleled and universally admired law enforcement organization.

That’s all over now – in the wake of the revelations about their activities in the Oklahoma bombing case they have been shown to be a dangerously unreliable government agency which has abused its enormous power in ways that boggle the imagination. Until now, they have gotten away with a series of outrageous   betrayals of trust that would have done in any organization not blessed with their reputation as the nation’s premier law enforcement agency.

Like a famed quarterback past his prime but kept on the field for sentimental reasons despite all the evidence that he is incapable of doing the job he once did superbly, the FBI has been living on the reputation earned in the glory days when  J. Edgar Hoover ruled the roost at FBI headquarters and labored mightily to create an image of an agency that could do no wrong, fail to make their cases, or get their men.

Any other government agency involved the in the outrages at Waco or Ruby Ridge would have gone down in flames but the Bureau survived, even to the point where two of their most egregious betrayals of trust were accepted by the media and the Congress without question after those disasters.

Without the seeming immunity granted  them by virtue of long-past successes, they would have lost most of their credibility by the time of the TWA 800 disaster and the mysterious death of Vincent Foster, and their activities in both these matters would have been subjected to the most rigorous scrutiny.

Perhaps now that the Bureau’s feet of clay have been exposed for all to see, Congress or the Department of Justice might be moved to take another look at both cases. It is badly needed, because to accept the Bureau’s word on these cases requires a level of gullibility on a par with that exhibited by a fifty-year- old man who continues to believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.

Let’s begin with the matter of the downing of TWA 800. Despite the fact that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) had the authority and responsibility to assume the role of lead investigative body in the matter, the FBI barged in on the scene and took full control. Here’s how the New York Times described relations between the FBI and the NTSB, on August 23, 1996…

The most senior officials with the NTSB were “furious with their own personnel at the scene, convinced that the agency had ceded control of the inquiry to the FBI.”

  •       One NTSB investigator complained that “overbearing” FBI agents “immediately took control, and hampered a lot of things we did.”
  •       NTSB officials portrayed the FBI as “aggressive beyond propriety” and described an atmosphere of suspicion and distrust, believing that the FBI routinely withheld crucial information.
  •       This failure to share information was particularly focused on the FBI laboratory in Washington, which was characterized as a “black hole.”

Clearly the Bureau was in charge and determined to make the probe come out the way they wanted. And one of the things they wanted was to prevent the hundreds of eyewitness accounts of the disaster that all but proved that TWA 800 was downed by a missile from being admitted in evidence despite the fact that the testimony they wanted to suppress came from highly credible individuals.

The NTSB scheduled Public Hearings into the crash in Baltimore for December 8, 1997. Among the items slated for discussion were these eyewitness accounts. However, just days before the hearing the FBI pressured the NTSB to exclude those highly credible eyewitness reports and ban their live testimony from the hearings.

In a December 3, 1997 letter addressed to NTSB Chairman Hall, then FBI Assistant Director James Kallstrom wrote:

“…Set forth below are the specific parts of the hearing, as set forth in the 11/29/97 5:56 AM draft Witness list, to which we [FBI] object and the bases for our objections.

…Review of Witness Statements Panel

…the FBI…objects to requests to disclose or include in the public docket of any FBI FD-302s or summaries of FD-302s prepared by the NTSB that report the results of any interviews or reinterviews of the 244 eyewitnesses whose reports were examined by the CIA in connection with it’s analysis and to calling any eyewitnesses to testify at the public hearing…”

Take note of the reference to “FBI FD-302s” – among the documents withheld by the FBI from the defense attorneys in the Oklahoma bombing trial of Timothy McVeigh were 302 reports of interviews conducted by the various FBI field offices.

Before the cancellation of eyewitness testimonies, all evidence which supported an external cause for the crash were discounted: reports of explosive residues found within the wreckage were explained as being “spilled” during a bomb sniffing exercise; a strange red residue found among the explosive traces was falsely dismissed as being seat adhesive[4, 9]; and photographic evidence of an alleged missile contrail was attributed to “debris on the film surface[4].” These items too, were stricken from the NTSB public hearings.

In the same December 3, 1997 FBI letter to the NTSB, Kallstrom objected to the inclusion of:

“Investigation For Missile/Warhead Impact/Bombs/Explosives; Residue Examination (exhibit 20I); PETN Findings, Small Explosive Charges

…we particularly object to discussion of the residue examination and the use of exhibit 20I, an FBI Laboratory report on the chemical analysis of the residue found on the seats.”

In an unprecedented maneuver less than a week before the hearings, the FBI successfully banned all eyewitness testimony and physical evidence in support of an external cause for the crash. However, independent researchers and journalists have been able to make such evidence available to the public. James Sanders (author/journalist) received small swatches of the red residue by official investigators unhappy with the FBI’s secrecy. His publication of test results on the residue attracted national media attention, as well as interest from the FBI.

On December 5, 1997 (two days after their letter to the NTSB), the FBI charged James Sanders with the theft of Flight 800 wreckage. Sanders and his wife Elizabeth have been convicted of conspiracy to remove and withhold the residue. They are presently serving a total of four years probation after being sentenced in April of 1999, even after the official investigator who removed the residue has admitted to taking the residue on “[his] own volition].”

The FBI influenced the content of the NTSB hearings by pressuring the NTSB chairman to exclude any evidence of an external explosion by banning all discussion, reports, test results or eyewitnesses which support such an event. The absence of laboratory results of explosive residues from the hearings placed total reliance on the word of an FBI Crime Lab with a history of inadequate scientific checks and balances.

Because of the FBI’s actions, there is ongoing doubt concerning the official investigation of TWA Flight 800. Their prosecution of a journalist investigating possible government wrongdoing may be in violation of several First Amendment protections.

According to Aviation week and Space Technology:

NTSB efforts to elicit potentially vital information from witnesses to the flight and crash of TWA Flight 800 were stymied for months by FBI agents who blocked any attempts to interview the witnesses, according to a copy of a safety board report obtained by Aviation Week & Space Technology…

 On July 21, 1996, the report states, Assistant U.S. Attorney Valerie Caproni informed Norm Weimeyer, head of the Flight 800 probe’s operations group, “that no interviews were to be conducted by the NTSB.” Safety board investigators could review FBI-supplied documents on the witnesses, “provided no notes were taken and no copies were made.”

The FBI gathered and controlled those statements as part of its criminal investigation of the crash. Although it has designated the investigation as inactive, the FBI has yet to give the accident investigation team full access to the witness reports. Analyses of those reports played a role in the FBI’s determination that Flight 800 was not brought down by a missile.

As part of their criminal probe, FBI agents restricted access to some debris and seized other pieces for unspecified reasons for months at a time.

There is a term that describes all of this: COVER-UP. Are you listening Mr. Attorney General?

Then there is the matter of the death of Vincent Foster, officially ruled a suicide by the National Park Police, The FBI and two Special Counsel reports, all of which make no sense whatsoever.

For example, the FBI  spent days digging around the site where Foster was alleged to have fired a bullet through his head, trying to find the slug that killed him. Despite using everything from shovels, digging halfway to China and electronic metal finding devices the magic bullet evaded the FBI investigators. Yet we are expected to believe that Foster shot himself in the location where his body was allegedly found. The bullet simply went somewhere else out of shyness to avoid being found by the FBI.

Says veteran homicide detective Mark Fuhrman “If he killed himself, he didn’t do it there,”   he told Details magazine. “If he committed suicide, then someone moved him to Fort Marcy Park.

“Someone tried to stage a crime scene that is not believable in the least, and to make it work they gave it to an investigative body like the Park Police who can be ordered around and bullied,” Fuhrman told Details.

 

Fuhrman also sees signs of foul play. “There was no brain matter, no skull fragments, not anything behind his head or blood on the vegetation around it. It was a sunny day, the light was good, yet there was nothing noted, nothing photographed.”

Had NewsMax.com executive editor Christopher Ruddy not forced the Foster case open in 1994 with his own series of NY Post investigative reports, the Park Police and the FBI would have likely had the final say.

In the ensuing years, probes by independent counsels Robert Fiske and Ken Starr, not to mention three congressional investigations, have failed to lay to rest the questions first raised by Ruddy. Why? Because they didn’t dare disagree with the fabled Bureau which has always been beyonmg reproach.

And troubling new details continue to emerge in the case. Last month a NewsMax.com reader discovered that the gun found in Foster’s hand was the subject of three FBI background checks in the months prior to Foster’s death – though the FBI had claimed the gun was a Foster family relic.

According to an April 4, 2001 report in NewsMax.com, significant questions were raised about the unusual gun – a .38 Colt revolver made from the parts of three guns with two serial numbers – found conveniently in Vince’s hand.

The Park Police said one of the serial numbers indicated the gun was vintage 1913 – and had no pedigree.

Foster family members insisted neither Foster nor his father ever owned the old revolver.

Recently, a NewsMax.com reader named Craig Brinkley contacted NewsMax.com and said that being curious about the gun, he had filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI, asking details of requests on the gun’s serial numbers with the NCIC – the National Crime Information Center which keeps records of all law enforcement inquiries of serial numbers.

On March 23, 2001, the FBI responded to Brinkley’s request.

Serial number 356555, one of the numbers on the gun, was never searched, not by the FBI, the Park Police or by that “investigation” by Ken Starr, but serial number 355055 was found on the frame of the gun. Brinkley believes that was the gun’s real number. That number was indeed searched by the Park Police, on the evening of Foster’s death, more exactly at 22:45 EDT on July 20, 1993.

Interestingly, searches were conducted on the same serial number no fewer than three times earlier that year, before Foster’s death, on March 3, March 7 and April 29.

Marilyn Walton at the FBI’s Access Integrity Unit told NewsMax.com that the government does not disclose which law enforcement agencies requested a trace on the serial number. She said it could have been made by local or federal agencies who have access to the NCIC computer. She added that serial numbers are often duplicated, and usually when a request is made, it includes additional information, such as the gun’s make and model.

In all four cases no such information was entered, just the number. Walton added that many guns share similar serial numbers.

Is it a coincidence that in the year of Foster’s death, four searches were conducted on the serial number found on the old gun – none ever before or after? NewsMax.com wondered.

These are only the latest revelations that cast long shadows over the Foster case and the FBI’s role in an obvious cover-up.

As the incomparable Ed Zehr wrote in Washington Weekly: “the first investigation into Foster’s death, conducted by the Park Police with a little help from the FBI, was a grotesque shambles that makes the Keystone Kops seem like highly skilled professionals by comparison. The subsequent “investigations” plowed the same furrows and repeated many of the same mistakes. You see, all of the investigations were conducted by the same [FBI] investigators in the field. How could they change their conclusions significantly without admitting that they had blundered?

Zehr, who has two degrees in engineering, notes that a .38-caliber revolver was found in Foster’s hand. “Thus, if he shot himself, it must have been with that gun. According to the Fiske report, the muzzle of the revolver was shoved into Foster’s mouth, all the way to the soft palate, at the time it was fired.

“Now, anyone who has fired a .38-caliber revolver will be aware that the recoil will cause the barrel of the weapon to jerk upward in a roughly circular motion. That is due to the way the weapon is balanced. The heavy parts are well below the barrel, which means that the action and reaction induced by firing a bullet occur well above the center of gravity — that is the pivot point about which the weapon rotates due to the force induced within the barrel when the slug is expelled. Anyone who has fired a .38 on a range, or seen one fired, will be aware of this abrupt upward motion. One does not see this in the movies because their guns fire blanks, which have very little momentum.

“My question is a simple one: how was the barrel of the revolver able to exit Foster’s mouth without damaging his front teeth? To point up the issue, there was a raised sight on the front of the barrel. Elementary physics would dictate that the poor man’s front teeth should have been all over the ground, yet the Fiske report assures us that they were not damaged.

“The obvious way out of this conundrum is to assume that Mr. Foster was shot with a small caliber weapon that had little recoil. The forensic evidence: paucity of blood, small exit wound, minimal powder burns inside the mouth, would seem to indicate this as well.

“But if Foster was shot with a small caliber weapon, somebody must have placed the .38 in his hand and taken the death weapon. What investigator (other than a member of the Park Police or Inspector Clouseau) would not take this as evidence of foul play? QED.”

The list of incongruities in the so-called investigation of the Foster death is so long it would take far more space than I can use. Any reader who wants to know the facts should take the trouble to read Chris Ruddy’s “The Strange Death of Vincent Foster: An Investigation.”

And for a selection of the testimonies of the witnesses to the downing of TWA 800 go to click here. For a complete examination of the entire matter, go here.

Finally, there is this very unsettling fact: most police departments in America live under the motto – “To Serve & Protect.” That means to serve and protect the people in their areas. Unfortunately, the FBI appears to believe that it is their function to serve and protect the interests of the Federal Government, even if it’s at the expense of the American people. This is a police-state function – the kind exemplified by the former KGB, the “Sword and Shield” that served their Kremlin masters against the people.

J.Edgar where are you when we need you?

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