Patty who comments here wrote and told us we should write the FBI to find out what it has on us. We’d end up getting files with those big black redaction lines through them. So why bother? Further, truth be told, FBI reports can be of little value.
Remember FBI agent Paul Rico talking about those reports to a Congressional Committee. He tried to suggest that when an informant tells you about things that are happening you reduce them to writing and file it in report form in the FBI’s filing system. It doesn’t mean what you are told is the truth. Here’s how it works.
Suppose Agent M. Key’s has an informant Joe The Giraffe. Most people who read about what Joe says won’t know who the information is coming from. Joe will be identified by a number such as # 82828, Joe tells Agent M. Key he saw Loo Water the night before at a poker party and during the night Loo and Harry Hippo were involved in a heated conversation.
Agent M. Key writes that down and puts the original in # 82828’s file and copies in the file of Loo Water and Harry Hippo. There’s nothing more to it than that. It doesn’t mean it happened, it just means # 82828 said it did. The truth might be that Harry Hippo was at a movie that night and Loo Water was out of town.
There is no FBI requirement that things be verified before putting them in report form. Anything an informant says gets written down. It then takes a life of its own. I’ve written before about the FBI’ saying “if it’s not in writing it doesn’t exist.” Is the corollary of that is that if it is in writing it must have happened?
Don’t think I’m making this up. A situation demonstrating that exact thing is being discussed at this moment in Whitey’s case.
Whitey’s lawyers are trying to find out the identity of an informant who gave an FBI agent information that Weeks and Martorano assured the others, such as Nee, that although they were cooperating they wouldn’t hurt them. In other words they’d lie to protect their friends. It’d be a nice bit of evidence for the defense lawyers to have to impeach those witnesses. They filed a motion to get the information.
Today the prosecutors responded to their request and objected to giving that information. They wrote: “The FBI has advised that the informant had no firsthand knowledge of any of this information, and indeed had no direct contact with the relevant individuals discussed in the FBI report: Kevin Weeks, John Martorano, Pat Nee, Jack Curran, Patrick Linskey, Michael Linskey, Richard Buccheri and Kevin Weeks’ former girlfriend.”
Stop and think of that a second. The FBI agent filed a report based on information about what his informant said about certain people, The FBI agent must have known his informant neither knew these people nor had any direct contact with them. To the agent’s credit he did suggest the informant was passing on “street talk” which is another word for rumor.
What then is the purpose of all this? Why have a system where an unidentified person # 82828 can suggest things about Harry Hippo which may be false.or another number suggest things about Kevin Weeks and Martorano that might also be false. Other FBI agents reading Harry Hippo’s folder are going to assume he was in contact with Loo Water and go off with that wrong assumption.
Here is what I find highly wrong with that system. Agent Paul Rico filed reports in the past like this and years later people treated them as true and blamed him for not acting on them. Agent John Connolly filed reports that in retrospect were shown to be false and it was held against him. If the agents are supposed to file reports on whatever they are told, whether true or not, then we should not later assume they were true and should have been acted on; or that the agent was deliberately trying to deceive others.
Yet that is what has been done throughout these last few years. Whitey’s lawyers are now in the position where they are being told that a report they assumed was true because it was part of the FBI files was based on nothing but rumors. Further, they can not learn the identity of the person who gave the FBI agent that information because she is an informant. There seems to me something basically wrong with having rumors mixed in with factual information in a filing system. I’m sure a lot of reputations have been unfairly damaged by the result of such a system.