Quantcast
Connect with us

Exclusive: FBI drags feet on releasing 1,000 pages on late Sen. Helms

Published

on

WASHINGTON — The Federal Bureau of Investigation may have more than 1,000 pages in its files on the late Republican Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina, but federal officials haven’t released a single document more than a year after a San Francisco blogger filed Freedom of Information Act requests.

San Francisco-based blogger and gay rights activist Michael Petrelis sent the FBI a Freedom of Information Act request for information on Helms shortly after the senator’s July 4th, 2008 death. The FBI restricts third-party access to information about individuals while they are still alive, but makes it possible for people to request copies of someone else’s FBI files after they have passed away.

ADVERTISEMENT

The FBI’s records management division staff sent Petrelis a letter in October 2008, informing him they’d located 1,082 pages that may mention Helms, but that it could cost Petrelis $98.20 to get copies of all the documents. The first 100 pages of FBI records requests are provided for free, but people are charged for copies beyond 100 pages. Petrelis agreed to pay the fee, but nearly a year later has yet to receive a document.

“We’ve been waiting more than a year to get ANYTHING out of them and we know they’ve got all those pages,” Petrelis told Raw Story, adding that he was able to receive information about threats against former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney–while both were still in office—less than seven months after requesting the information.

“They’re in office and they’re alive and one is the sitting president and we’re talking threats, and the FBI is able to find and release something,” Petrelis said. “But with Jesse Helms, we’re more than a year after our initial request and we still don’t have anything.”‘

FBI spokesman Bill Carter told Raw Story “it does take time to review documents and determine under the law what can or can’t be released.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“There’s no time frame you can really give, it all depends on the number of documents we are dealing with,” Carter said.

Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, was not available for an interview Monday, but has said in prior interviews with Raw Story that the FBI often takes years to respond to requests.

“Standard operating procedure there is to file a FOIA request and wait three to five years,” Dalglish told Raw Story.

ADVERTISEMENT

Petrelis said he was interested in the Helms case because he’d been part of protests at the late senator’s home and office.

“There were six or seven of us that did a sit-in, a kiss-in, in his office, to call for gay rights and better AIDS treatment programs in the early ’90s,” Petrelis said. “I’d be curious to know if that event was in these files.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Helms himself once focused on getting the FBI to release files on a late icon: civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.

The late senator claimed one reason he opposed giving Martin Luther King. Jr. his own national holiday in 1983  was because the Senate rejected his amendment to unseal the FBI’s files on King. Helms said he believed King’s advisers included communist sympathizers.

Correction: RAW STORY mistakenly identified the late Sen. Jesse Helms as a South Carolina Republican. Helms was from North Carolina. RAW STORY regrets the error.

ADVERTISEMENT


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump is refusing to talk with China: ‘They hit us with the plague’

Published

on

During his interview on Tuesday with CBS News' Catherine Herridge, President Donald Trump said he does not intend to speak with China for a second round of trade talks, and blamed them for infecting America with the coronavirus pandemic.

"I'm not interested right now in talking to China," said Trump. "We made a great trade deal was done, the ink wasn't even try and they hit us with the plague."

COVID-19 originated in China, with the first publicly reported cases in the city of Wuhan. However, experts believe one of the first and largest outbreaks of the virus in the United States came from Europe.

Continue Reading

COVID-19

‘Dangerous and breeds distrust’: Trump administration ripped for bypassing CDC with coronavirus data

Published

on

According to a new report from the New York Times, starting Wednesday, the Trump administration has ordered hospitals to bypass the CDC and send all coronavirus patient information to a central database in Washington.

"The new instructions are contained in a little-noticed document posted this week on the Department of Health and Human Services’ website, Sheryl Gay Stolberg reports. From now on, H.H.S., and not the C.D.C., will collect daily reports about the patients that each hospital is treating, how many beds and ventilators are available, and other information vital to tracking the pandemic," the Times reports.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

‘It’s freedom of speech’: Trump defends Confederate flag — and compares it to Black Lives Matter

Published

on

During an interview with CBS News' Catherine Herridge on Tuesday, President Donald Trump was pressed on whether he stands by his remark in 2015 that the Confederate flag should only be displayed in museums.

Trump replied that he believes the flag "is freedom of speech" just like "Black Lives Matter or anything else you want to talk about." He declined to answer the question specifically.

Watch below:

The confederate flag “is freedom of speech,” Pres. Trump says when asked whether he still believes the flag belongs in a museum. “Whether it’s confederate flags or Black Lives Matter or anything else you want to talk about. It’s freedom of speech.” pic.twitter.com/WtdESdmCSy

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image