FBI Laptop Dancing

United States District Judge Amos Mazzant on September 29 issued a 53-page ruling ordering the Federal Bureau of Investigation to hand over information from the laptop computer of Seth Rich to a Texas man who had filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. 

Mazzant, an Obama appointee, gave the FBI 14 days to hand over the information, but the bureau failed to comply. As the Epoch Times reported last week, the FBI wants the court to reverse the order. If the court declines, the FBI wants 66 years to produce the data, which the bureau previously denied it possessed

Seth Rich was a digital campaigner with the Democratic National Committee. On July 10, 2016, the 27-year-old DNC staffer was gunned down in Washington, D.C. Police called it a street robbery gone wrong, but the shooters did not take Rich’s wallet, watch, or phone. Weeks after the murder, as the BBC reported, “Wikileaks published 20,000 emails obtained from Democratic National Committee computers via an anonymous source.” 

Some observers thought the source might be Rich. Many of the emails dealt with the escapades of Hillary Clinton and found their way onto social media. For Democrats, it was all part of Trump’s collusion with Russia, and establishment media charged that outlets such as Fox News were peddling, yes, another conspiracy theory

Others thought the Russia collusion story could be a dodge to distract viewers’ attention from Rich’s murder. The Federal Bureau of Investigation showed no interest in the basic questions of motive, means, and opportunity but quickly latched on to Rich’s laptop computer. Four years later, in 2020, the bureau admitted possession of the laptop. 

Now, with the murder of Rich still unsolved, the FBI wants to delay any release of the laptop material until 2088. In the meantime, the FBI is concealing materials from another unsolved murder case. 

On February 21, 2020, the body of Philip Haney, author of See Something Say Nothing: A Homeland Security Officer Exposes the Government’s Submission to Jihad, was “found deceased” in Amador County, California. He died as the result of a gunshot wound to the chest. 

The Amador sheriff “reached out to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to assist in analyzing documents, phone records, numerous thumb drives and a laptop that were recovered from the scene and Mr. Haney’s RV. Those items and numerous other pieces of evidence, were turned over to the FBI. The FBI has performed a forensic examination of these items. We expect to receive these reports within the next few weeks.” 

Two years later, the Amador sheriff reports no new information on the case, and the FBI has yet to reveal what was on Haney’s laptop, thumb drives, and such. As with the Seth Rich case, the material could be of great interest to the public. 

In early 2020, according to Kerry Picket in the Washington Examiner, Haney was “recently in contact with top officials about returning to work for the DHS.” So maybe he had new information on terrorists. The erudite Haney was good at finding such information, but it wasn’t always welcome at the Department of Homeland Security. 

As Haney explained in The Hill on May 5, 2016, the DHS ordered him “to delete or modify several hundred records of individuals tied to designated Islamist terror groups like Hamas from the important federal database, the Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS).” The DHS investigated Haney nine times, revoked his security clearance, and ginned up fake complaints about job performance.

The whistleblower chronicled those efforts in See Something Say Nothing. DHS bosses couldn’t have been too happy about the book, and terrorists dislike exposure. As with Rich, the FBI showed no interest in questions of motive, means, and opportunity. As with Rich, the FBI grabbed Haney’s devices and materials but isn’t announcing what they contained. 

On the other hand, much about the bureau is already known.

The FBI failed to prevent the massive attack of September 11, 2001. The FBI also failed to prevent domestic terrorist attacks at Fort Hood in 2009 (14 dead and more than 30 wounded), the Boston Marathon in 2013 (three deaths and hundreds wounded), San Bernardino in 2015 (14 dead and more than 20 wounded), and Orlando in 2016 (49 dead and more than 50 wounded). That year the FBI launched covert operations Midyear Exam and Crossfire Hurricane against candidate and later President Donald Trump. 

Former FBI boss Robert Mueller and a squad of partisan Democrats found no evidence for the Russia collusion story. That operation gained force after the murder of Seth Rich, who may or may not have leaked 20,000 emails to Wikileaks. The FBI has Rich’s laptop, but as in the case of Philip Haney, the bureau wants to conceal the contents. 

The FBI is fighting the Freedom of Information Act request because the bureau should not be required to disclose confidential sources or reveal law enforcement techniques. This was entirely predictable, fully understandable, and completely without significance. 

The 66-year delay is a proxy for “never.” As journalist Jim Hoft explains, “people with nothing to hide don’t try to hide nothing.” 

About Lloyd Billingsley

Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Hollywood Party and other books including Bill of Writes and Barack ‘em Up: A Literary Investigation. His journalism has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Spectator (London) and many other publications. Billingsley serves as a policy fellow with the Independent Institute.

Photo: iStock/Getty Images

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