When Law Enforcers Run Amok

A federal judge in Salt Lake City is now studying documents that could link the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City to Shawn Kenny of Cincinnati. A memorandum filed Feb. 21 in U.

Feb 23, 2005 at 2:06 pm
Graham Lienhart

Standing witness for peace are (L-R) Leslie Wilson, Sue Bal and Hans Schellhas.

A federal judge in Salt Lake City is now studying documents that could link the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City to Shawn Kenny of Cincinnati. A memorandum filed Feb. 21 in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City accuses the FBI of continuing its effort to cover up Kenny's role.

Before his execution for the deaths of 169 people, bomber Timothy McVeigh disclosed his ties to Kenny and the Aryan Republican Army (ARA), a group of right-wing bank robbers operating out of Cincinnati. A former member of the ARA, better known as the Midwest Bank Bandits, Kenny turned snitch and then entered the National Guard. He recently served on a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo (see "Queen City Terror," issue of Sept. 8-14, 2004). In a memorandum filed this week, attorney Jesse Trentadue argues against the FBI's claim that Kenny's role is exempt from disclosure because he was a confidential informant. Government documents and Kenny's own testimony have made him anything but confidential, according to Trentadue.

"That claim of exemption is dishonest because the OKBOMB copy reveals that the confidential witness is in Cincinnati, Ohio, not Elohim City, Okla. ... It is obvious, therefore that the Ohio witness is Shawn Kenny, a fact that has become general knowledge," the memorandum says.

The larger question is whether the Aryan Republican Army funded McVeigh's bomb and why federal agents let the gang continue their robbery spree for so long.

"This is a case about accountability: FBI defendants' accountability for their direct or indirect involvement in the murder of 169 people, including 19 children," Trentadue's memorandum says.

City Manager Valerie Lemmie has shot down Councilman Christopher Smitherman's request that she issue a written reprimand to Police Chief Tom Streicher and Lt. Col. Richard Janke. The top two police commanders so badly offended federal court monitors overseeing the collaborative agreement on police reform that a federal magistrate recommended the city be placed in stricter, more formal binds of a consent decree.

"While I appreciate your view, I have chosen a different approach," Lemmie wrote Smitherman Feb. 16.

Instead of reprimanding the pair, she explained, she'll speak to them and make sure "we are in agreement that full access and cooperation with requests made by the monitor or his representatives will not be abridged in the future."

Lemmie once again noted how "frustrated" the police brass is with the collaborative agreement.

"Change is difficult, frustrating and contentious, but a necessary step to progress," she wrote. "I believe gaining the right tools to handle frustrations and having the environment at our disposal to appropriately address these frustrations is the more prudent course of action."

Smitherman holds Lemmie directly responsible for the city's mess, saying she continually refuses to discipline her subordinates.

"Those responsible for the obstructive decision-making that has positioned the city directly into the federal court line of fire for a consent decree need to be disciplined in writing, without hesitation," he wrote. "The lack of management of the police department is an underlying factor that maintains the loose atmosphere in which the police chief and his lieutenant colonel(s) regularly exercise such disturbing decisions. The absence of prompt, firm regulation of unacceptable autonomous behavior is undermining the credibility of the entire Cincinnati Police Department. Even if Chief Streicher and Lt. Col. Janke understand your concerns regarding access and cooperation, a much greater management intervention is warranted."

Smitherman isn't finished; he's considering putting a resolution before council to reprimand Streicher and Janke.

"Valerie Lemmie is not the end-all of deciding this issue," Smitherman says. "The buck stops with the mayor."

That's one reason Smitherman is among those considering a run for the mayor's seat.

Persistence Where It's Needed Most
The police department continues to thwart City Auditor Mark Ashworth's attempts to obtain tapes of interviews he conducted with officers as part of an audit of police overtime. Though a draft of his report was released weeks ago, 10 months after beginning the process, a full audit has yet to be completed.

"To date, the requested tapes have not been released or made available," Ashworth wrote Smitherman Feb. 15. "We are attempting once again to see that the tapes are made available. I am working on the matter with the Law Department. Once those tapes are made available, we should be able to schedule our final interviews and to write the report."

Nearly two years into the American occupation of Iraq, the killing continues, as do efforts on the home front to stop the war. Members of the University of Cincinnati Anti-War Committee gathered Feb. 21, Presidents Day, to voice their continued opposition to U.S. military aggression.

With the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq approaching, plans are underway for a demonstration March 19 in Cincinnati. Among the groups collaborating are Cincinnati Students Against War, Peace Seekers, Cincinnatians to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Moms and Dads for Peace, Food Not Bombs, the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center's Peace Committee, the International Socialist Organization, Footprints for Peace, Dorothy Day House, Women in Black and Poets Against the War.

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