Jim Hughes / Denver Post – 2004-08-25 22:19:27
(August 19, 2004 ) — Anti-nuclear activists held a news conference Wednesday to discuss their opposition to Rocky Flats becoming a wilderness refuge and public recreation area. FBI Agent Jon Lipsky, who had planned to speak, is at center.
The FBI ordered a special agent who investigated environmental crimes at Rocky Flats in the 1980s not to talk Wednesday at a news conference organized by anti-nuclear activists, the agent said.
Jon Lipsky, now assigned to an FBI field office in California, took vacation time to travel to Denver, he said. The FBI called him en route Tuesday, he said. “I received a call from the FBI ordering me not to talk about the Rocky Flats case, so I can’t tell you what I came here to tell you,” he said at a news conference in Denver.
‘As a Father and a Human Being,’ FBI Agent Says ‘Stop’
Lipsky said he supported the activists trying to stop the former nuclear weapons plant from becoming a wilderness refuge and public recreation area. This transformation of Rocky Flats’ 6,240 acres northwest of Arvada could occur after the US Fish and Wildlife Service takes control of the property in 2006. “As a father and a fellow human being, I urge you not to allow recreation at Rocky Flats,” Lipsky said. “I’m sorry I can’t tell you more.”
FBI spokeswoman Monique Kelso said the local field office called Lipsky to remind him that discussing cases with the media without approval violates FBI policy. “It would have been fine if he would have obtained proper authority, but he just didn’t do that,” she said.
Lipsky, formerly of the FBI office in Denver, led the investigation that concluded in 1992 with an $18.5 million plea agreement between federal prosecutors and the contractor at the plant, Rockwell International Corp. The plea bargain was reached after a federal grand jury spent nearly three years reviewing evidence.
The Ambushed Grand Jury
The activists who called Wednesday’s news conference included two who, with Lipsky’s cooperation, published a book this spring accusing the Justice Department of blocking indictments and covering up crimes by contractors and government officials at Rocky Flats. The book, The Ambushed Grand Jury, opens with a letter signed by Lipsky and addressed to Congress.
Caron Balkany, a Santa Fe activist and lawyer who interviewed Lipsky for the book, said she believes the FBI is trying to protect the Justice Department from public scrutiny. “I know they did it during the original investigation, they did it when we wanted to interview (Lipsky) for the book, and now they’ve done it again,” she said.
Jeff Dorschner, a spokesman for the US attorney’s office in Denver, said there is no coverup. “These allegations are not new,” he said. “Based on complaints from grand jurors, the Department of Justice (ordered) a complete and thorough review.” That review found no wrongdoing, Dorschner said.
Balkany and her co-author, grand jury foreman Wes McKinley, are leading calls for the release of secret grand jury materials in the case. In March, US District Judge Richard Matsch ruled that he lacked the authority to release the materials. Matsch found grand jurors’ concerns “serious and substantial,” he wrote in his order.
FBI Clamps Secrecy on Rocky Flats Pollution
Society of Environmental Journalists
(Aug. 25, 2004) — An FBI agent on his way to an August 18, 2004, news conference organized by anti-nuclear activists was called en route by superiors and told not to talk about radioactive pollution at the Rocky Flats Arsenal near Denver. Special Agent Jon Lipsky, now stationed in California, was on vacation time when he was traveling to Denver. Lipsky headed a 15-year investigation into illegal burning and other contamination at Rocky Flats which began with a 1989 raid.
b>‘I Cant’ Tell You What I Came Here to Tell You’
“I received a call from the FBI ordering me not to talk about the Rocky Flats case,” Lipsky told reporters in Denver, “so I can’t tell you what I came here to tell you.”
The government is trying to turn the 6,240-acre site into a wildlife refuge after extensive cleanup, but activists say it is still not safe. Without spilling any secrets, Lipsky said “I urge you not to allow recreation at Rocky Flats.”
After a grand jury spent three years reviewing evidence in the Rocky Flats case, a guilty plea was bargained out between federal prosecutors and the contractor who ran the site, Rockwell International Corp. Rockwell paid $18.5 million and the Justice Department sealed the record of the investigation.
Activists and grand jury members are calling for the records to be opened up, saying they include evidence of crimes by contractors and government officials. Their case is contained in a book, The Ambushed Grand Jury, by Carol Balkany and grand jury foreman Wes McKinley. In March 2004, US District Judge Richard Matsch found grand jurors’ concerns to be “serious and substantial,” but said he lacked authority to open the records.
Jeff Dorschner, a spokesman for the US attorney’s office, told the Denver Post that the Justice Department had reviewed the charges made against it by grand jurors, and had exonerated itself. Dorschner told the Post there was no coverup.
The next day, the US EPA, the US Department of Energy, and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said they planned to ask the Justice Department for the records.
• Ex-Nuclear Weapons Plant ‘Not Safe’, Associated Press via Fox News Interactive (Australia), August 19, 2004, by Robert Weller.
• Agencies Seek Grand Jury Documents on Former Nuke Site, Associated Press via CNN, August 20, 2004.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code for noncommercial educational purposes.