WHERE ARE THE “RESPONSIVE RECORDS”?
by Sharon Rondeau
Clevenger is a Texas- and California-licensed attorney residing in Brooklyn, NY. He is founder of The Transparency Project, a nonprofit whose purpose is to “fight political corruption, particularly in the judiciary and the legal profession.”
“Democratic National Committee employee Seth Rich was murdered in Washington, D.C. on July 10, 2016,” the White House petition begins. “A few weeks later, Julian Assange implied that Mr. Rich – not Russian agents – was the source of DNC emails published by Wikileaks. Evidence released over the last nine months proves that the FBI gave false testimony in order to hide evidence about Mr. Rich and his connection to Wikileaks.”
The murder of former DNC Data Director Seth Rich has never been solved. Early reports characterized the crime as “a botched robbery attempt,” yet his valuables were left on his person by the perpetrator(s), and Metro DC police have provided no updates on any investigation which may be ongoing.
Clevenger represents himself in a March 2018 lawsuit against the FBI, Justice Department and NSA “to compel compliance with the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 (“FOIA”)…” in that his initial FOIA request for documents regarding Rich and a number of other parties, including Wikileaks, received no response.
In item 11, Clevenger asserted, “With respect to Mr. Rich’s murder, the Plaintiff is reliably informed that FBI agents assisted the District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police Department in its investigation, specifically assisting the local police as they sought information from Mr. Rich’s electronic devices…”
Item 13 on page 4 indicates that the NSA said it “searched for responsive records but was still reviewing the records to determine whether to release them.”
Clevenger has gone on to allege that FBI Section Chief David M. Hardy was not honest when he testified that the agency searched its records and found nothing containing the words “Seth Rich.” Subsequently, the government-watchdog organization, Judicial Watch, was provided FBI emails containing the name as discussed between former FBI Deputy Assistant Director of Counterintelligence Peter Strzok and former FBI attorney to then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe a month after Rich was killed.
In February, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit to obtain records on Rich.
As with the reported forgery of the “long-form” birth certificate image said to represent Barack Hussein Obama’s original birth record from Hawaii, the theory that Rich may have had a connection to the government-transparency site Wikileaks has been uniformly termed by the mainstream media to be “a conspiracy,” with little-to-no curiosity demonstrated as to why Rich’s murderer has not yet been brought to justice.
Rich’s parents claim that their son’s death has been “politicized” and have pursued an appeal against Fox News, one of its reporters, and Texas businessman Ed Butowsky, who Clevenger represents in two federal defamation lawsuits against NPR, CNN, and The New York Times stemming from coverage of Seth Rich’s murder.
Butowsky claims that in a telephone call last year, former Fox News contributor Ellen Ratner informed him that in a face-to-face visit with Assange, Assange told her that Seth Rich was the source of the damaging Clinton emails Wikileaks released in the months leading up to the U.S. 2016 presidential election.
“Attorney General William Barr should order the FBI to search for and release its records about Mr. Rich, and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe should order the National Security Agency to de-classify and release its records about Mr. Rich,” the petition text continues. “Director Ratcliffe should further order the NSA and the CIA to de-classify and release all data showing who transmitted the DNC emails to Wikileaks.”
Prior to his imprisonment for jumping bail last May, Assange stated publicly that neither “Russians” nor any “state party” served as his source for the emails and offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to Rich’s killer.
In March, former Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah Sines was deposed in Butowsky’s suit against NPR and testified that the FBI “had been examining” Rich’s computer. There was much that Sines said she was not “allowed” to say because of an “open investigation.”
On Monday, Clevenger filed a new lawsuit against the FBI on behalf of Brian Huddleston in the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division, for records pertaining to Rich and his brother Aaron after the agency failed to respond to Huddleston’s April FOIA request. The brief states on page 2, “Defendant FBI is an agency of the United States Government. It has possession, custody, and control of records to which Plaintiff seeks access.”
As of this writing, the petition bears 182 signatures.