By Chase Smith
Despite multiple requests for the release of Nashville Christian school shooter Audrey Hale’s manifesto and writings surrounding her March 27 attack that left three 9-year-olds and three adults dead, the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation denied a request from The Epoch Times for those documents.
The reason the FBI cited in a letter to an Epoch Times reporter based in Tennessee is that U.S. Code exempts from disclosure “records or information compiled for law enforcement records or information… could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings…”
Those “enforcement proceedings” were not cited in the letter. It is unclear what the enforcement proceedings could be in reference to, as the main suspect, Audrey Elizabeth Hale, died at the scene of the attack.
The FBI’s letter further stated “the records responsive to your request are law enforcement records; there is a pending or prospective law enforcement proceeding relevant to these responsive records, and release of the information could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings.”
The request was then “administratively closed,” the FBI noted in the letter.
Additional Request Denied
An additional request by The Epoch Times for those documents to be processed on an expedited schedule was also denied by “DOJ standards for expedited processing.”
For expedited processing to be granted, the letter stated a request must meet one of four situations.
Those situations include “circumstances in which the lack of expedited treatment could reasonably be expected to pose an imminent threat to the life or physical safety of an individual.”
Another situation listed states “an urgency to inform the public about an actual or alleged federal government activity, if made by a person primarily engaged in disseminating information.”
The third situation listed mentioned the loss of any substantial “due process of rights.”
While the last situation states expedition could be granted if there were “A matter of widespread and exceptional media interest in which there exists possible questions about the government’s integrity which affects public confidence.”
In the request to the FBI sent in April, The Epoch Times requested expedited processing due to “the public interest to the citizens of Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, and the United States writ large.”
“You have not provided enough information concerning the statutory requirements permitting expedition; therefore, your request is denied,” the FBI added in their May 1 letter.
It is unclear what the DOJ and FBI consider to be widespread and exceptional media interest or what it determines to be a perceived lack of integrity or confidence with the agencies.
Has Media Coverage Been Widespread?
The nearest street to The Covenant School was lined with news media vans the day after the massacre, as well as the second day, according to an Epoch Times reporter that was on-scene. This included English-speaking reporters and foreign language outlets.
A simple Google search for “Audrey Hale Manifesto” brought up 2,910,000 results as of Monday, May 8.
Just in the past week, after the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department reversed course from when a spokesperson told The Epoch Times the manifesto was being readied for public release, a large number of media outlets reported just on the latest development. This does not include thousands of articles written prior to those written in the past week.
Outlets writing about the manifesto—just near the top of that Google search—include The Epoch Times, Fox News, The Daily Mail, The Independent, Newsweek, Yahoo News, The Nashville Tennessean, The Daily Beast, The New York Times, AOL News, One America News Network, The New York Sun, The U.S. Sun, Sky News, The Chattanooga Times Free Press, WZTV, Fox 8 TV, and more.
Those news stories that pop up on just the first page of a Google search include local media in Tennessee, national news from all over the United States, and international news outlets.
The Epoch Times plans to appeal the decision and reached out to the DOJ and FBI for comment, but did not hear back before this article was published.