FBI: No additional videos of Oklahoma bombing, despite claims from a Utah attorney

FBI: No additional videos of Oklahoma bombing, despite claims from a Utah attorney

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The FBI argues again in new court documents filed late Monday that it has done an adequate search for additional videos of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, saying there's no point looking for records that don't exist.

The filing comes three months after attorneys for the federal agency tried in July to persuade a federal judge that it is not hiding unreleased surveillance videos from the bombing, despite claims from a Utah attorney who brought a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The FBI wants the case dismissed.

"An agency should not be required to hunt for records in locations that they would not be expected to be found, on the theory that such records must have been misplaced, misfiled, or hidden," the FBI wrote in the new brief. "But even if agencies were held to such an impossible burden, there would simply be no point in conducting wild goose chases for records that do not exist."

A ruling is likely months away in a case that reignited questions about whether others were involved in the bombing that killed 168 people.

Utah attorney Jesse Trentadue, who has until late November to file his opposing brief, still believes there are videos showing Timothy McVeigh was not alone in detonating the bomb.

He thinks the presence of a second suspect explains why his brother, who resembled a police sketch of a suspect, was flown to Oklahoma after the bombing. Kenneth Trentadue, a convicted bank robber, was picked up for probation violations while coming back to the U.S. at the Mexican border, and died in a federal holding cell. His death was labeled a suicide. But his body had 41 wounds and bruises that his brother believes were the result of a beating. In 2008, a federal judge awarded the family $1.1 million for extreme emotional distress in the government's handling of the death. The amount was reduced to $900,000 after an appeal.

Among the witnesses during the July trial was a police officer who was at the scene of the bombing who testified that he saw FBI agents climbing ladders and taking surveillance cameras off the federal building shortly after the attack. Former Oklahoma City police officer Don Browning said under cross-examination that he didn't know if the cameras were operational, or if video was ever collected from them.

"There is a lot of evidence that they do exist, or they should exist, or they did exist at some time," Trentadue said Tuesday.

The case reached trial because U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups was unsatisfied by the FBI's previous explanations after Trentadue filed the lawsuit in 2008. The judge also cited the public importance of the tapes.

The FBI has given Trentadue 30 video recordings, but none shows the explosion or McVeigh's arrival in the truck.

Trentadue's belief that the tape exists stems from a Secret Service document written after the bombing that describes security footage of the attack that shows suspects exiting the truck three minutes before the bomb detonated. A Secret Service agent testified in 2004 that the log does, in fact, exist but that the government knows of no videotape.

During the trial, the FBI brought a host of former federal employees to the stand to explain why no videos were taken of when the bomb exploded.

If the judge rules in his favor, Trentadue wants to be able to search for the tapes himself rather than having to accept the FBI's answer that they don't exist.

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