The Art of Plausible Deniability

HOW DOES A “NO RECORDS” RESPONSE BECOME “CLASSIFIED IN THE INTEREST OF NATIONAL DEFENSE?”

by Sharon Rondeau

(Jan. 6, 2016) — On September 28, the widow of a civilian contractor stationed in Afghanistan at the time of his death on June 19, 2012 filed an appeal to a September 6 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the U.S. Air Force following her receipt of the Air Force’s “no-records” response regarding documentation on the death of her husband.

The request was acknowledged the same day by SSgt. Timothy Corns, but the Air Force responded with a “no-records” reply.

Mrs. Boyle had sent the request to the Air Force and other military branches after the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigation Command (CID) division said it had no responsive records.

On September 9, Mrs. Boyle submitted a separate FOIA request to the Army for “documents/statements regarding an investigation by the Army that relate to the attack at FOB Provincial Reserve on June 19, 2012…”

 

On September 21, Susan Cugler of Army CID responded to Mrs. Boyle’s September 9 FOIA request that the Army had already provided to her an “unredacted” video of the events leading up to, including and occurring after her husband’s death at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Kandahar, Afghanistan, a claim Mrs. Boyle strongly refutes.

As The Post & Email has reported, Mrs. Boyle said that months after she was promised a personal viewing of complete footage of the events leading up to Mr. Boyle’s death, she ultimately received a “highly edited” video which lacked a time/date stamp and was not the continuous feed she had requested.

While supporting the 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion in Kandahar, Mr. Boyle was working for CID according to his contract with MPRI/EngilityCorp/L-3 Communications. In fact, Mrs. Boyle received a note of condolence from then-CID commanding officer Maj. Gen. David E. Quantock dated June 21, 2012, and flowers and a card from U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command were sent to Mr. Boyle’s funeral.

However, five months later in November 2012, Mrs. Boyle received a “no-records” response from Cugler at Army CID regarding anything relating to her husband.  Cugler additionally said that no criminal investigation would be launched into the insurgent attack which took place at FOB Kandahar that day.

“This ‘no record’ response is made on behalf of Major General David E. Quantock, Commander, USACIDC, who is the Initial Denial Authority for USACIDC records under the FOIA, and may be appealed to the Secretary of the Army,” Cugler wrote.

In 2013, Mrs. Boyle became aware of a video featuring a pararescue team deployed by the U.S. Air Force and aired by National Geographic in March 2013 showing the rescue operation which took place following the insurgent attack on which her husband’s death was originally blamed.  She was told by one of those rescued that he hosted a viewing party at his home following his hospitalization.

The Air Force’s “no-records” response prompted Mrs. Boyle to write her September 28 appeal to the Secretary of the Air Force in which she described her husband’s continuous service to the nation in several capacities and revealed her knowledge of the Air Force’s participation in the National Geographic Combat Rescue Series “Into the Fire” video depicting the rescue at FOB Kandahar.

Her appeal letter reads:

September 28, 2016

Secretary of the Air Force
Madam Secretary Deborah Lee James
Thru: USAFCENT A60K (FOIA)
611 Lark Road
Shaw AFB, SC 29152
afcent.foia@afcent.af.mil

Dear Madam Secretary,

This letter is an appeal to your ‘no records’ response to my foia request as directed by the letter dated September 21, 2016.  I have attached a copy of this letter for your convenience.

The first paragraph of your letter references my September 9, 2016 Freedom of Information request and goes on to describe this request in detail that differs from my submission.  At this point I would like to focus on two foia requests I have submitted, one on September 9, 2016 and another on September 6, 2016 for your review.  I have attached copies for your convenience.

Herein lies some confusion, as my September 9th request relates to the investigation by the Army that relates to the attack at FOB Provincial Reserve on June 19, 2012 and any documents/statements regarding an investigation of the same event by the Air Force…

My September 6th foia request relates to all Air Force records related to the attack at FOB Provincial Reserve on or about June 19, 2012.  This request also asks for all records related to Thomas Boyle, (my husband who died on that day) or any civilian killed as well as ballistic reports, findings, photos, vulnerability assessments, recordings – both audio and video, notes, emails, or any other document.

As you can clearly see, your response seems to indicate that you are responding somewhat to both foia requests – yet not in exact detail.   To be clear, by ‘detail’ I am referring to my September 9th request which relates to documents held by the Army and/or Air Force regarding the attack at FOB Provincial Reserve on June 19, 2012.  In my September 6th foia request I now make mention of my husband’s name who was killed at FOB Provincial Reserve on that day.  As stated I believe my husband’s name was removed and reference may be only to ‘civilian’ killed.

As previously indicated, the response to my foia requests resulted in an ‘no records’ response.

Aside from the above mentioned confusion regarding the two distinct foia requests, I respectfully mention the following as a basis for my appeal:

  • Although the Air Force states no records are found regarding this incident why is there video of the PJ’s response to the attack at PR which was aired on public television? Please review The National Geographic Series Combat Rescue #3, Into the Fire.  The second half of the recording is the Air Force PJ’s response to the attack.  You may find a recording of this on Youtube at;

https://youtu.be/9Mr4HMhWzp4

or a simple search of Youtube using National Geographic Combat Rescue, Into the Fire – this will result in the same link.  Should you still have difficulty in finding the link please feel free to contact me as I have a dvd recording that I would be happy to forward.

The above link will take you directly to this episode.  After viewing this recording I ask that the appropriate records and documentation be forwarded to me with regards to both foia requests and my numerous other requests throughout the years as clearly there indeed was Air Force involvement.

At this time, I am going to include some background about my husband Madam Secretary, so that you fully understand the complexity of this situation and also to give to you some sense of what type of American my husband really was.

Tom was a decorated US Marine who volunteered his service upon graduation from high school.  He volunteered for two tours of duty in Vietnam receiving the Cross of Gallantry among other medals and accolades.  Upon his return stateside he immediately was hired by the Chicago Police Department becoming a fourth generation member of CPD.  This began a 30 year career in law enforcement which resulted in numerous commendations including the capture and conviction of Tyrone and Larry Strickland who were later convicted of murdering Wheeling Police Officer Kenneth Dawson.

(As a side note to this story – on the day of Tom’s funeral there was one person who was waiting as we arrived to the funeral home – the widow of Kenneth Dawson.  She wanted to thank us for what Tom had done).  After their conviction and during every parole hearing, and Tom attended all of them, he would sit silently in the back of the courtroom with his rosary in his pocket silently praying for continued justice.  To this day Officer Dawson and his family had found their peace and justice.

Retirement from the police department brought unrest to Tom and more importantly the attack on 9/11 led him to sign up for various peacekeeping missions as a way to continue his service to our country.  Tom served in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.  In Iraq, Tom was embedded with the US Army once again.  His devotion to our country and our military resulted in the award of the Order of the Spur as well as the Commander Award for Civilian Service while assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment, Stt-8 2009-2011.  I have attached a copy for your review.  As you will read Tom was instrumental in the capture and conviction of eight IED makers – saving unknown numbers of American lives during OIF.  This was accomplished while Tom was 60 plus years in age.  Tom was always willing to protect and defend his brothers and these two awards are but one example of his selfless service and dedication to our country.

The website search – tjboylefoundation.org is our not-for-profit that we have organized to honor the life and legacy of Tom.  His love for children and realization of their value and impact upon our future began in Vietnam and ended in Afghanistan.

Here are additional links to recent articles about my husband.

http://www.thepostemail.com/2016/09/26/is-thomas-j-boyle-jr-another-pat-tillman/

http://www.thepostemail.com/2016/09/11/are-promotions-more-important-than-a-mans-life/

http://www.thepostemail.com/2016/03/20/why-is-the-dod-obscuring-the-cause-of-death-of-thomas-j-boyle-jr/

I provide this information to you Madam Secretary with the hopes that you will act with honor and dignity.  It is not my goal to embarrass the US Air Force.  This situation can be easily resolved without the slightest negative impact upon the reputation of the US Air Force should you choose.  If we become enemies because of this issue, please know that this was your decision and not mine.  And enemies we will become because I have no intention of giving up in obtaining the justice that Tom deserves.  Tom deserves better.  Our son deserves the truth.

With that in mind I hope you take the time to read about my husband, the type of man he was, his character and morals within the attachments and links supplied within this communication before you respond to this appeal.   After reading such it is my hope and prayer that you amend the ‘no records’ response and provide to us – Tom’s family, the truth about his death.

In truth there is peace Madam Secretary, and I have none.

I await your reply

Respectfully,

Pauline Boyle

The next day, she received an acknowledgement of her appeal:

The following response was a direct reply to Mrs. Boyle’s appeal letter.   Included was the following email:

Ma’am,

This email is in regards to the release of the FOIA Request 2016-00213 Appeal.  Your case concluded in the determination that all responsive records are exempt from disclosure under Freedom of Information Act Exemption (b)(1).  Attached is the release letter containing the details of the request.

Respectfully,

AFCENT FOIA Management

Mrs. Boyle then told The Post & Email:

The December 13, 2016 response to my appeal letter states that the records sought are “classified in the interest of national defense” by Executive Order 13526.  The determination also exempts disclosure, as “it contains information pertaining to military operations” and then goes on to “unauthorized disclosure could result in damage to national security,” mentioning Executive Order 12598.

Oddly, a former sergeant who served with Tom in Iraq contacted me to inform me that he had met a former soldier (not officer) who was in Afghanistan in 2012 and was deployed on a nearby base the day of the attack.  He mentioned how the conversation began with their similar ties to Chicago and then turned to the “former Chicago policeman” killed at Provincial Reserve.  The soldier went on to describe how he had read the reports of the incident and that although no name was given, mention was made of a civilian being killed by fratricide that day.  He went on to state, “I simply put two and two together” since Tom was the only U.S. civilian killed that day in any attack.

So if this soldier read a report about a friendly-fire incident, it then proves that these reports were not classified originally.  But now they are classified according to the Secretary of the Air Force.  Classified to hide the true cause of death – not to defend national security or national defense.  And I am alleging this cover-up went to the top.

There has been much discussion about government privilege to classify information.  On the one hand there is the need to protect government secrecy.  On the other there is always suspicion that “classified documents” are merely a way to cover up government malfeasance or bad faith actions of the executive branch.

But let’s back up and look at the insurance documents belonging to Aetna and Metlife.  Aetna states in their notes that “the act of war limitation does not apply.  Death due to accidental bodily injury.”  In the Metlife notes it is written, “DOD 6/19/12 was accidental homicide in Afghanistan on 6/19/12 was accident.”

Again, common sense – if two different insurance companies have the reference to the same cause of death – both in contrast to what was being publicized and documented on the death certificates, one question begs to be asked:  “How did the insurance companies get their hands on classified documents?”

The answer is simple – the documents were not classified.  They were only classified later to prevent me from learning the truth, the truth I have sought for almost five arduous years in spite of all the lies and deceit of the military, those on base, the insurance companies and my husband’s employer.

And why would these insurance companies have in their possession such incriminating reports?  Both Aetna and Metlife held group policies for L-3 employees which allowed the company, L-3 Communications, to take out policies on their employees naming the company as beneficiary.  Such policies are often referred to as “janitor” or “dead peasant” policies and name the employer, in this case L-3 Communications, as the beneficiary,   beneficiary of the very same policies whose benefits I was denied.  But had I been able to prove the death was accidental – then I would have been provided a payout.

More importantly is the reckless act of classifying reports to hide the truth.

I have written the Trump organization and President-Elect Trump asking, “Mr. President, will you please tell me who murdered my husband?”

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