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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

FBI Wants Dead Student's "Privacy Release" Before Answering FOIA on OU Suicide Bomber Probe

Joel Hinrichs blew himself up Oct. 1, 2005, with a bomb strapped to his body as he sat on a bench near the stadium where 84,000 people were watching the OU-Kansas State football game in Norman, Oklahoma.

Within hours, the FBI's Joint Task Force on Terrorism and OU President David Boren claimed Hinrichs was a lone suicide with no known terrorist connections. Now, more than four months later, the FBI probe remains officially open and the bureau refuses to provide documents requested under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

Generation Why's Jason Smith is the latest FOIA requestor to get the run-around from the FBI but this time the bureau came up with a novel way of playing the idiot's treatment game with the law. The FBI says it must have a privacy waiver from Hinrichs before Smith's FOIA request can be fulfilled!

Observes Smith: "Apparently the reference to the 'individual in question' blowing himself into a million tiny pieces didn't clue the records folks into the difficulty of obtaining such a waiver."

No, Jason, it's not that the records folks at the FBI don't understand that Hinrichs is dead. It is precisely that they do understand that fact and are using it to give you the run-around. This is classic federal bureaucratic run-around in action.

Most Washington journalists have experienced it more often than they care to remember, myself included. And it doesn't make any difference whether the documents being sought are held by a law enforcement agency like the FBI, a national security agency within the Department of Defense or a civilian agency like the Department of Health and Human Services.

Federal bureaucrats (though usually not those tasked to administer the FOIA) are masters at manipulating the law to delay, obfuscate or otherwise circumvent the FOIA, which says all government documents are available on request to the general public unless they fall under certain reasonable exemptions. Needless to say, the "get a privacy waiver from the dead guy" tactic isn't reasonable.

It's simple: The bigger government gets, the less truth and accountability there will be in our nation's capitol. The Founders knew this truth and wrote a constitution designed to guarantee limited government. The FBI response to Smith's FOIA on the Hinrichs case is merely the latest evidence of how far we have fallen away from the Founders' work.

Speaking of FOIA requests, on Jan. 12, 2006, this author submitted FOIA requests for records pertaining to the Hinrichs death to the Justice Department's Executive Office for United States Attorneys, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

To date, only ATF has acknowledged and responded, as required by federal law. Thus far, Justice and the FBI have failed to respond as required by federal law.

Go here for 10 reasons to believe the least reasonable explanation for Hinrichs death is that he was a lone suicide.

And these people wonder we doubt their credibility when they tell us Hinrichs acted alone and had no known terorrist connections?