Update: May 2, 2018
Department of Justice Remands FOIA Records Request Appeal to FBI in the Case of Missing Guns in Washington, D.C., Partially Upholding Our Request
Department of Justice Associate Chief of Administrative Appeals Christina Troiani has responded to our Freedom of Information Act appeal for documents related to the FBI’s missing guns investigation. While some of our request is still denied, part of the appeal was affirmed.
Troiani states: “After carefully considering your appeal, and as a result of discussions between FBI
personnel and this Office, I am remanding in part your request for records concerning the
investigation to the FBI for a search. If the FBI locates releasable records, it will send them to
you directly, subject to any applicable fees. You may appeal any future adverse determination
made by the FBI. If you would like to inquire about the status of this remand, please contact the
FBI directly. I am otherwise affirming the FBI’s action on the portion of your request for
records concerning Matthew Laird.”
This is a positive development for our efforts to get an update in this case. We still maintain that our original request was for documents related to the investigation into stolen weapons, not a request for personal information related to Agent Laird.
We will update once the FBI responds to the DOJ’s order.
UPDATE: February 20, 2018
FOIA Request For Status Update on 2016 D.C. FBI Missing Gun Case is Denied, Appeal Filed
On January 25, 2018, we submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the FBI for information related to the investigation of a reported weapons theft from an FBI agent’s vehicle on July 10, 2016 – the same night Seth Rich was murdered. The FBI denied our FOIA request. On February 20, we filed an appeal of that decision.
Here is a link to the FBI’s press release announcing their investigation and a big reward for the public’s help. In a year and a half, there has been no update on this investigation. We’ve found the timing of this press release odd.
The weapons were allegedly stolen on the night of July 10, 2016. The FBI didn’t post this press release until July 22. If you look at the metadata on the release, it was posted at 11:36 a.m., which happens to be less than an hour after Wikileaks posted the first DNC emails.
Again, the weapons theft reportedly happened just two hours before Seth Rich was murdered, in a location just a couple blocks away from where he was shot dead. That seemed coincidental to us. But when Julian Assange strongly hinted Rich was involved in the DNC leak. We decided to look more closely at the FBI’s press release and discovered the hidden metadata, showing it was posted only minutes after the DNC emails were posted by Wikileaks.
- Who stole these weapons?
- Could they have been used in another crime nearby?
- Why did the FBI post their reward on July 22?
- What is the status of this case now?
- Why haven’t we been given an update by FBI?
Here’s our FOIA denial letter from the FBI. Look closely at their reason(s) for denial. They stated we requested records on one or more third part individuals – specifically FBI Agent Matthew Steele Laird, whose vehicle was robbed that night. No, we didn’t request information about Agent Laird himself. We requested a case status update.
FOIA provides for 3 very important records exclusions for national security and law enforcement purposes. FBI cited these exclusions for us in their response.
The first exclusion protects against disclosure of a pending criminal law enforcement investigation where there is reason to believe that the target is unaware of the investigation and disclosure of its existence could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings.
The second exclusion, which applies only to records maintained by criminal law enforcement agencies, protects against disclosure of unacknowledged, confidential informants.
The third exclusion, which applies only to the FBI, protects against disclosure of foreign intelligence or counterintelligence, or international terrorism records, when the existence of those records is classified.
Do any of these exclusions apply to this case?
- Pending criminal LE investigation where there is reason to believe that the target is unaware of the investigation
- Disclosure of confidential informants
- Disclosure of foreign intelligence or counterintelligence?
If those rules do apply here, it opens up other very serious questions about what happened on the streets of Washington, DC, on the night of July 10, 2016, who stole those weapons and how they may have been used.
Update: July 5, 2017
FBI Changes Reported Time of Washington D.C. Gun Theft, Issues Press Shortly After Wikileaks Releases DNC Emails
On July 11, 2016, the Washington Post reported a Washington D.C. FBI agent’s vehicle was broken into between 6:45 a.m. and 7:49 a.m. on Sunday, July 10, 2016, and two guns (Glock 22 .40 caliber handgun, AR-15 Colt rifle) were stolen. The information was provided to the Washington Post by a D.C. police spokeswoman and is confirmed in a police report.
Incidentally, this robbery occurred the same day former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was murdered in Washington D.C.
Rich was shot at approximately 4:20 a.m. on July 10, 2016 – about two hours before the originally stated time on the D.C. police’s robbery report. Rich’s shooting happened just 1.8 miles away from the gun theft crime scene.
Then, on July 22, 2016, at 11:36 a.m., the FBI issued a press release detailing the gun theft and offering a $10,000 reward for information about the crime. We know this press release was posted at 11:36 a.m. eastern time thanks to the time stamp embedded in the web page’s metadata.
Curiously, the FBI’s press release states: “On Sunday, July 10, 2016, between 12:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m., unknown subjects burglarized an FBI special agent’s vehicle and removed a secured gun lock box which contained weapons and other equipment.”
This contradicts initial reports, including the D.C. police report, that the break-in occurred between 6:45 a.m. and 7:49 a.m. Why the change in the reported time of the crime? This also coincidentally places the reported time of the theft as happening about two hours BEFORE Seth Rich was murdered nearby.
Besides the FBI issuing a press release about the gun theft and reward, what also happened on the morning of July 22, 2016? At 10:30 a.m. eastern time, Wikileaks dumped the first of the thousands of emails that had been stolen from the Democratic National Committee’s email servers.
So at 10:30 a.m. Wikileaks dropped the DNC emails onto the web. At 11:36 a.m., the FBI issues a press release announcing a reward and a changed time for a D.C. weapons theft. How are these two events in any way related?
Well, as anyone who followed the Seth Rich investigation can tell you, based on statements or suggestions from Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, as well as statements from independent investigators and others, some have theorized that Rich was involved in the passing of DNC emails to Wikileaks.
There is no proof Seth Rich was involved in the DNC email leak (full stop).
However, his murder remains unsolved. And here we have the FBI saying that its agent’s guns were stolen 2 hours before the shooting, just 1.8 miles from the crime scene.
Is it not worth looking into whether these two missing guns could have been stolen and then used in this homicide or in another crime in the Washington D.C. area?