FBI Denies Editing Tapes of Oklahoma City Bombing
OKLAHOMA CITY – The FBI says it did not edit videotapes of the aftermath of the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building before turning them over to an attorney who is conducting an unofficial inquiry into the bombing.
The FBI turned over more than two dozen tapes taken from security cameras on buildings and other locations around the federal building to Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue, who obtained them through the federal Freedom of Information Act. Trentadue said the tapes are blank at various times in the minutes before the blast.
"They have been edited," Trentadue said Wednesday.
The soundless recordings show people rushing from nearby buildings immediately after a 4,000 pound fertilizer-and-fuel-oil bomb detonated in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995, killing 168 people, including 19 children, and injuring hundreds more.
Some show people fleeing through corridors cluttered with debris. None shows the actual explosion that ripped through the federal building.
Trentadue said the absence of footage before the blast indicates something was on the tapes that the FBI did not want to make public.
"They don't do anything by accident," he said.
A spokesman for the FBI in Washington, Paul Bresson, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press that the agency did not edit the tapes before turning them over to Trentadue.
Bresson said the FBI identified 26 videos in its files in response to an April request by Trentadue for video from security cameras in 11 different locations. FBI agents did not report finding any security tapes from the federal building itself.
"The FBI made no edits or redactions in the processing of these videos," Bresson said. "The tapes are typical security cameras — the view switches camera to camera every few seconds."
Bresson declined to expand on the FBI's e-mail statement when contacted Wednesday.
Trentadue began looking into the bombing after his brother, Kenneth Trentadue, died at the Oklahoma City Federal Transfer Center in August 1995. Kenneth Trentadue was a convicted bank robber who was held at the federal prison after being picked up on an alleged parole violation at his home in San Diego in June 1995.
He was never a bombing suspect, but Jesse Trentadue alleges guards mistook his brother for one and beat him to death during an interrogation. The official cause of Kenneth Trentadue's death is listed as suicide, but his body had 41 wounds and bruises that Jesse Trentadue believes could have come only from a beating.
A judge in 2001 awarded Kenneth Trentadue's family $1.1 million for extreme emotional distress in the government's handling of his death.
Some images turned over to Jesse Trentadue were used as evidence at bomber Timothy McVeigh's trial. McVeigh was convicted on federal murder and conspiracy charges and executed in 2001. Co-conspirator Terry Nichols is serving life in prison on federal and state bombing convictions.