will fight for it." Sibel Edmunds interview
you remember when Sibel Edmonds' story broke?
been over two years since Edmonds went public with information that
the FBI had intelligence reports before 9/11 indicating terrorists
might ram aircraft into skyscrapers and other prominent buildings
in New York and Washington, DC. As a contract worker for the FBI,
Edmonds' translations of wiretap documents led to the exposure of
an inept — and possibly corrupt — federal system of
gathering and disseminating intelligence. For her efforts, Edmonds
received bipartisan kudos… at least at first.
credible is her information? On October 27, 2002, US Republican
Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa left no doubt when he appeared
she's credible,” Grassley
told Ed Bradley. “And the reason I feel she's very credible
is because people within the FBI have corroborated a lot of her
after the 60 Minutes story aired, the US Inspector General's office
launched an investigation into Edmonds' charges. She was told to
expect a finding in the fall of 2002.
Attorney General and a presidential election later, Edmonds is still
waiting on the Inspector General office. What's more, even though
both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the 9/11 Commission have
heard her testify about specific plots, dates, individuals and activities,
they have yet to act on her revelations.
is not deterred. She has decided to take matters into her own hands
with a petition to
require the immediate release of the entire report.
can sign the petition here.
"The petition demands
that the Senate Judiciary Committee, who has the oversight, actually
start exercising this oversight,” Edmonds tells me in an interview
on Weekly Signals — a
KUCI radio show I co-host with Mike Kaspar. "I hope it will
be signed by many many people."
to the petition, "The
FBI and the Department of Justice have engaged in a relentless effort
to withhold this information in order to prevent public awareness
and thus avoid accountability, and in so doing are placing the security
of the nation at risk".
General John Ashcroft came out on October 18, 2002 and personally
Secret Privilege in my case and in my report,” Edmonds
says. “He basically used this as a gag on me to prevent my
testifying in regard to this information. The State Secret Privilege
applies to everything, including telling anybody what languages I
translated. This is absolutely ridiculous.”
then, Edmonds was subpoenaed by
a law firm representing more than 500 family members and survivors
of the 9/11 attacks. They never heard her testimony. Citing State
Secrets Privilege, government lawyers silenced Edmonds, claiming
that disclosure of her evidence “would cause serious damage
to the national security and foreign policy interests of the United
States." I asked Edmonds if our national security
would be threatened if she were allowed to testify.
not. On one hand, I understand that certain intelligence methods
for gathering information cannot be disclosed. But none of my testimony
would be detrimental to national security or to the public’s
welfare. However,” she says slowly and deliberately, “some
of this information would be detrimental to certain US officials,
to their own job security."
want to ask Edmonds who those US officials are, but that would violate
State Secrets Privilege.
does seem that they’re putting the private interest ahead of
the public interest," she continues. "The FBI and the department
of Justice are preventing the release of the Inspector General’s
Office Report that was on expedited track and was supposed to be
released to the public in October 2002.”
a Turkish-American, says the Senate Judiciary Committee conducted
an unclassified meeting with the FBI in May 2002, after she reported
these incidents to the Inspector General’s Office and to the
was during the four hours of this unclassified meeting that the FBI
confirmed all my reports and allegations,” she says. “In
fact, they denied none.”
did Edmonds come to work at the FBI?
applied for the job as translator in 1998,” Edmonds says. “At
the time I was attending George Washington University majoring in
criminal justice and criminal psychology. I passed the FBI’s
proficiency exam for several languages and was waiting for them to
complete their top-secret clearance background investigation of me.
Two years later, I found out that they lost my file and 150 other
incompetence was at all levels of the Bureau — even HR. Edmonds
reapplied and persisted. Then, three days after 911, the FBI contacted
her. On September 20, 2001 she began working for the department
on a contract basis.
I started working there, they were asking for increased budgets for
translation units and other administrative departments,” Edmonds
says. “For two and one half months after 911, we were being
told to hold off on translations because they had to count all the
documents that had not been translated.”
work finally started, there was a substantial amount of backlogged
material — some of it already translated — that needed
reviewing. I ask Edmonds about the accuracy of those documents.
course, certain translations were not done accurately due to incompetence,” Edmonds
says. “However, certain documents were being blocked from being
retranslated. The State Department blocked certain investigations
due to particular diplomatic relations.”
those diplomatic relations be with the Saudi government? Can't ask.
State Secrets Privilege again. So I ask if Edmonds is afraid of
the Justice Department filing a criminal suit against her?
believe that their acts should be considered criminal and not mine,” Edmonds
says. “If they were to allow this information to become public,
I don’t believe in any way that I would be the one who was
a certain point,” Edmonds says, “I’m going to make
all the 9/11 related information public, because other means have
biggest fear is that this cover-up will continue, and that there
will be another attack where people will be jeopardized. I have lived
in countries where transparency and democracy and freedom of speech
are almost non-existent. Our constitution is being compromised. I
will fight for it.”
the Bush administration exerting more and more control over the
intelligence community, Edmonds will be facing a tough fight. But
there's a way you can help her. Sign
— Nathan Callahan,
December 2, 2004