KSWB/FOX-San Diego; by Phil Blauer; February 1, 2018;

Independent investigators, led by former FBI, claim daredevil worked for the CIA and the Bureau is ‘flat-out lying’ about it

Fox Network News website; by Travis Fedschun; February 1, 2018;

The dogged leader of the private investigative team who has spent years on the D.B. Cooper hijacking case claimed Thursday that the skyjacker is a former black-ops spy whose identity has been covered up by federal agents — and his team has the documents and witnesses to prove it.

Thomas J. Colbert, a law enforcement trainer and filmmaker who put together the 40-member team, told the Seattle Post Intelligencer his sleuths made the CIA connection from messages a code-breaker uncovered in five taunting letters sent by a “Cooper” author in the weeks after the November 24, 1971 jump.

Last month, cipher-cracker Rick Sherwood insisted in an interview with the PI that a nine-digit number found at the bottom of a typed hijacker note had been sent by a San Diego man who is still alive — Robert W. Rackstraw Sr., a 74-year-old Army veteran who happens to be from Sherwood’s own Vietnam unit.

“New decryptions now include a dare to agents, directives to apparent partners, and a startling claim that is followed by Rackstraw’s own initials: If captured, he expects a get-out-of-jail card from a federal spy agency,” Colbert said in a news release Thursday.

Colbert also noted that several people who knew Rackstraw have come forward to state he had connections to the CIA and other top-secret operations.

The team organizer claims that the typed-letter’s message refers to three specific Army units Rackstraw was connected to during his military service. One of Rackstraw’s former commanders said the suspect would have learned the encryption codes before coming to Vietnam.

“I’m a hard skeptic, but I think the coding thing is remarkable,” Dorwin Schreuder, a former FBI agent who worked on the Cooper case in the 1980s, told the PI in January. “The circumstances of those codes being what Tom says they are, that nobody but him would know these units and these figures, that’s pretty hard to argue against. Rackstraw might be our guy.”

The FBI released the typed letter in November in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, which featured the numbers “717171684” opposite the name “Wash Post” in the bottom left corner. Colbert’s team said the numbers are linked to Rackstraw.

Code-buster Sherwood claims that in one of the four other previously-released documents, the letters “SWS” were uncovered, which is short for “Special Warfare School.” He also said Cooper stated in another note that he was working for the CIA — where the letters “RWR,” allegedly standing for Robert W. Rackstraw, also appeared.

Other evidence Colbert complied suggests the FBI tried to keep the case unsolved. “As we suspected, records show the Bureau has been stonewalling, covering up evidence and flat-out lying for decades,” he told The Oregonian.

Since last January, the FBI has been forced to release more than 3,000 documents to Colbert’s team investigating the hijacking. The Bureau said in court papers that it has more than 71,000 documents that may be responsive to Colbert’s lawsuit.