A journalist seeking information on a more than 20-year-old white supremacist forum was met with an alarming notice from the FBI about her request.
Emma Best filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the bureau in 2016. It took two and a half years for the request to be processed, according to the nonprofit organization MuckRock. Despite the amount of time it took for the request to go through, the FBI responded with 104 pre-processed pages. Additionally, the cover letter accompanying the documents stated the agency essentially lost or failed to locate some of the files Best asked for.
“We were advised that the potentially responsive records were not in their expected location and could not be located after a reasonable search. Following a reasonable waiting period, another attempt was made to obtain this material. This search for the missing records also met with unsuccessful results,” the agency said in part in a response Best tweeted Monday, July 1.
Stormfront is an online forum that was founded in 1995 by Don Black, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan. It is considered one of the first big white supremacist websites. Among the findings in the heavily-redacted documents, one member of Stormfront was found to have the interests of white pride and radicalism, skinheads and the KKK on his email profile. His hobbies included “attending as many rallies as possible” and his favorite quote was “fighting for race and nation.”
Additionally, webpages from the site dated March 26, 2004 saw one probe into Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which promised to examine “his life and his work and expose the truth.” That same page also had a write-up on the “persecution” of former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke and “the federal government’s attempt to muzzle the truth.”
Regarding the FBI’s claim it lost the files, Best tweeted the government agency often responds in that fashion.
“To be clear: FBI claims this a lot,” she said. “My implication wasn’t that they lost it on purpose, just that they either didn’t look very hard or have an organizational system that would have Hoover spinning in his grave.”
Meanwhile, Twitter users have been sounding off on the development, whether or not the bureau actually lost files.
“Yeah. Either they ‘lost’ them, or the files never existed, because the FBI was told to ignore right-wing extremism.”
“This entire admin is corrupt to the core. Not only are they not keeping required records, they’re furiously destroying them.”
“Yes, and I especially love it when they claim they don’t have records that they’ve already released in previous requests.”