Sibel Edmonds

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Sibel Deniz Edmonds
Born 1970 (1970)
Nationality Turkish-American
Known for US Whistleblower

Sibel Deniz Edmonds (born 1970)[1] is a Turkish-American[2][3][4] former FBI translator and founder of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC). Edmonds was fired from her position as a language specialist at the FBI's Washington Field Office in March, 2002, after she accused a colleague of covering up illicit activity involving foreign nationals, alleging serious acts of security breaches, cover-ups, and intentional blocking of intelligence which, she contended, presented a danger to the United States' security. Since that time, court proceedings on her whistleblower claims have been blocked by the assertion of State Secrets Privilege. On March 29, 2006, she was awarded the PEN/Newman's Own First Amendment Award in recognition of her defense of free speech as it applies to the written word.[5]


[edit] Early life and education

The daughter of a doctor, Edmonds lived in Iran and then Turkey before coming to the United States as a student[3] in 1988. Edmonds is fluent in Turkish, Persian, English and Azerbaijani.[3][6] She earned her bachelor's degree in criminal justice and psychology from George Washington University[3] and her master's in public policy and international commerce from George Mason University.[6]

[edit] FBI career

Edmonds was hired, as a contractor, to work as an interpreter in the translations unit of the FBI on September 20, 2001.

Between December 2001 and March 2002, Edmonds reported to FBI managers various incidents of misconduct and incompetence, involving her supervisor Mike Feghali and others, that she says she observed while employed as a translator. In response, she claims that managers retaliated against her.[citation needed] She escalated her complaints to the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility and the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Inspector General. She was fired on March 22, 2002.

In June of that year, anonymous government sources asserted, in Associated Press and Washington Post reports, that Edmonds had been disruptive, breached security, and performed poorly at her job.[7] An internal FBI investigation, however, has concluded that she was fired after making "valid complaints". [8]

[edit] Allegations

[edit] Nuclear Secrets Black Market

Edmonds alleges that in the course of her work for the government, she found evidence that the FBI, State Department, and Pentagon had been infiltrated by a Turkish and Israeli-run intelligence network that paid high-ranking American officials to steal nuclear weapons secrets.[9]

[edit] 911 Foreknowledge

She claims that the FBI received information in April 2001, from a reliable Iranian intelligence asset, that Osama Bin Laden was planning attacks on 4-5 cities with planes, some of the people were already in the country and the attacks would happen in a few months.[10][11]

[edit] FBI

She also accused members of the FBI's translation unit of sabotage, intimidation, corruption and incompetence.[12][13]

[edit] Dennis Hastert Corruption

Edmonds also accuses Dennis Hastert of taking bribes,[14] and high ranking members of the US government of selling nuclear secrets to Turkey and Pakistan, which were then likely passed onto A. Q. Khan,[15] who helped Iran, North Korea and various other nations start their nuclear programs.

[edit] Government Coverup

Edmonds and government watchdog groups contend the State Department's invocation of the State Secrets Privilege barring her testimony on these subjects is not in the interests of the general public, but is instead designed to protect Bush administration and Department of Justice officials.[16]

Many of Edmonds' accusations have been corroborated by anonymous letters apparently written by FBI employees.[8]

[edit] Litigation

Edmonds' allegations of impropriety at the FBI came to the attention of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which held unclassified hearings on the matter on June 17, 2002 and July 9, 2002. During the hearings, the FBI provided various unclassified documents and statements relating to the case, and even acknowledged that some of Edmonds' complaints, particularly regarding misconduct by her fellow translators and mismanagement within her unit, had merit.[8] This led to two Senators sending letters, dated June 19, 2002, August 13, 2002, and October 28, 2002 — to Inspector General Glenn A. Fine, Attorney General Ashcroft, and FBI Director Robert Mueller, respectively — asking for explanations and calling for an independent audit of the FBI's translation unit. These documents were published on the Senators' web sites and were republished by a watchdog group, Project On Government Oversight (POGO).[citation needed]

Meanwhile, on July 22, 2002, Edmonds filed suit against the Department of Justice, the FBI, and several high-level officials, alleging that she was wrongfully terminated from the FBI in retaliation for reporting criminal activities committed by government officials and employees. On October 18, 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft invoked the State Secrets Privilege in order to prevent disclosure of the nature of Edmonds' work on the grounds that it would endanger national security, and asked that the suit be dismissed.[citation needed]

On August 15, 2002, a separate suit, Burnett v. Al Baraka Investment & Dev. Corp., was filed by families of 600 victims of the September 11, 2001 (9/11) attacks against Saudi banks, charity organizations, and companies.[citation needed] Edmonds was to file a deposition in this case regarding her claim that FBI had foreknowledge of al-Qaeda's attacks against the World Trade Center.[citation needed]

On December 11, 2003, Attorney General Ashcroft, again invoking the State Secrets Privilege, filed a motion calling for Edmonds' deposition to be suppressed and for the entire case to be dismissed. The judge, seeking more information, ordered the government to produce any unclassified material relating to the case. In response, Ashcroft submitted further statements to justify the use of the State Secrets Privilege, and on May 13, 2004, took the unprecedented step of retroactively classifying as Top Secret all of the material and statements that had been provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2002 relating to Edmonds' own lawsuit, as well as the letters that had been sent by the Senators and republished by POGO.[citation needed]

On June 23, 2004, the lawfulness of the retroactive reclassification was challenged in a suit filed by POGO, citing fear that the group might be retroactively punished for having published the letters on its website. The Justice Department tried, but failed, to get the suit dismissed, and said that POGO could not prove that it was being threatened with prosecution. On February 18, 2005, the day before a hearing on the case, the Justice Department, under the leadership of a new Attorney General, backed away from its claim that those particular documents were classified, and approved their release in full. [17][18] It is not clear whether this concession affects the publishability of other statements and documents relating to Edmonds; the Justice Department's gag order, of sorts, seems to remain in effect, since a court has not determined whether the department actually has the authority to retroactively reclassify the documents.

In the meantime, however, the reclassification was successful; Edmonds was barred from testifying in the 9/11 class action suit, and on July 6, 2004, her own suit was dismissed on state secrets grounds. Edmonds immediately appealed the latter decision.[citation needed]

The day the appeal was filed, the Inspector General released an unclassified summary of a highly classified report on an investigation that had concluded “that many of her allegations were supported, that the FBI did not take them seriously enough, and that her allegations were, in fact, the most significant factor in the FBI's decision to terminate her services. …Rather than investigate Edmonds' allegations vigorously and thoroughly, the FBI concluded that she was a disruption and terminated her contract.”[19][20]

But on April 21, 2005, in the hours before the hearing of her appeal, three judges issued a ruling that barred all reporters and the public from the courtroom. During the proceedings, Edmonds was not allowed into the courtroom for the hearing. On May 6, 2005, when her case was dismissed, no reason was provided, and no opinion cited.[citation needed]

On August 5, 2005, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) petitioned for the Supreme Court of the United States to review the lower courts' application of the State Secret Privilege in both lawsuits. The ACLU claims that the courts conflated the State Secrets Privilege and the Totten rule.[21] On November 28, 2005, the Supreme Court declined to review the decisions.

[edit] "Publish and disseminate"

Sibel Edmonds has written numerous open letters and essays addressing the events she has experienced since 2002, stemming from having been fired for whistle-blowing.[22] Without violating the 'State Secrets Privilege' gag order placed upon her by Ashcroft, she has nonetheless remained in the public eye. She received the Sam Adams Award for 2004. She continues to demand that the public and Congress expressly consider the appropriateness, effectiveness, and ultimate insecurity afforded to the United States through keeping a lid upon her information.

[edit] May 14, 2005 open letter

In her open letter,[23] Ms. Edmonds outlined her belief that the reasoning offered in the government's position does not rise to a level above the need for her information to be viewed and considered by the Congress and public at large. Edmonds describes the government's position thus, "Reason one: To protect certain diplomatic relations - [not named]; Reason two: To protect certain U.S. foreign business relations," adding that the 'relations' protected by the 'State Secrets Privilege' gag order are not in the interest of, or of benefit to, the majority of Americans, but instead serve and protect a small minority. Included among this minority, she contends, are those capable of imposing such a gag order.

[edit] Further disclosures: June 20, 2005

Just as news reports surfaced about a Senate panel probing allegations that FBI agents in Saudi Arabia sat on leads in the 9/11 investigation, and then destroyed piles of secret documents related to the case,[citation needed] Edmonds released another scathing report of her own regarding events leading up to the terror attacks.[citation needed] "(In) April 2001, a long-term FBI informant/asset who had been providing the bureau with information since 1990, provided two FBI agents and a translator with specific information regarding a terrorist attack being planned by Osama Bin Laden," Edmonds revealed, continuing, "For almost four years since September 11, officials refused to admit to having specific information regarding the terrorists’ plans to attack the United States. The Phoenix Memo, received months prior to the 9/11 attacks, specifically warned FBI HQ of pilot training and their possible link to terrorist activities against the US. Four months prior to the terrorist attacks the Iranian asset provided the FBI with specific information regarding the ‘use of airplanes’, ‘major US cities as targets’, and ‘Osama Bin Laden issuing the order.’ Coleen Rowley likewise reported that specific information had been provided to FBI HQ."

[edit] National Security Whistleblowers Coalition

In August, 2004, Edmonds founded the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), an alliance of whistleblowers who have come forward to address security weaknesses of the US. The NSWBC helps national security agency whistleblowers through advocacy of governmental and legal reform, public education on whistleblowing activity, provision of comfort and fellowship to national security whistleblowers suffering retaliation and other harms, and working with other public interest organizations. NSWBC is involved in backing former intelligence analyst Russ Tice, who was dismissed by the National Security Agency (NSA) in May, 2005. On December 16, 2005, ABC reported that Tice was among the sources of a leak about illegal NSA wiretap programs, ordered by the White House and first disclosed by the New York Times.

[edit] Kill The Messenger Documentary

In September, 2006, a documentary about Sibel Edmonds' case called Kill The Messenger ("Une Femme à Abattre") premiered in France.[24] The documentary focuses on both Ms. Edmonds's personal struggle to expose the criminality that she claims to have uncovered while at the FBI, and also the alleged 'secret' itself — the network of nuclear black-market, narcotics and illegal arms trafficking activities. Interviewees include David Rose,[25] Philip Giraldi, Daniel Ellsberg, Coleen Rowley, Joseph Wilson, and Russell Tice

[edit] Notes

  1. ^, "Gagged, But Not Dead", 2005.
  2. ^ "Sibel Edmonds: A Patriot Silenced, Unjustly Fired but Fighting Back to Help Keep America Safe". American Civil Liberties Union. 2005-01-26. Retrieved on 2007-06-19. "Sibel Edmonds, a 32-year-old Turkish-American, was hired as a translator by the FBI shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 because of her knowledge of Middle Eastern languages." 
  3. ^ a b c d Rose, David (2005-08-15), "An Inconvenient Patriot", Vanity Fair,, retrieved on 2007-06-19  “But as a naturalized Turkish-American, she saw the job as her patriotic duty.”
  4. ^ “Lost in Translation: Former FBI translator accuses bureau of intentionally not doing its work in translating documents”. Transcript of 2002-10-27 CBS 60 Minutes broadcast, as published in 1. "A Review of Allegations of a Continuing Double Standard of Discipline at the FBI (Attachment 1)". Office of the Inspector General. 2003-11-06. Retrieved on 2007-06-23.  and 2. Office of Senator Chuck Grassley (2002-10-28). Grassley seeks overhaul of FBI's Translation Unit. Press release. Retrieved on 2007-06-23.  “…Edmonds, a 32-year-old Turkish-American…”
  5. ^ "2006 PEN/Newman’s Own First Amendment Award (press release)". PEN American Center. Retrieved on 2006-10-08. 
  6. ^ a b "National Security Whistleblowers Coalition - About Us". Retrieved on 2008-10-15. 
  7. ^ FBI Told to Give Papers to Whistleblower - AP Online - HighBeam Research
  8. ^ a b c Philip Giraldi: What FBI whistle-blower Sibel Edmonds found in translation
  9. ^ FBI denies file exposing nuclear secrets theft - Times Online
  10. ^ April 2, 2004 'I saw papers that show US knew al-Qa'ida would attack cities with aeroplanes' The Independent
  11. ^ FBI & 9/11 - by Sibel Edmonds
  12. ^ AlterNet: DrugReporter: Turkey, Drugs, Faustian Alliances and Sibel Edmonds
  13. ^ ADRIAN GATTON: January 1990
  14. ^ Sibel Edmonds Vanity Fair Article
  15. ^ For sale: West’s deadly nuclear secrets - Times Online
  16. ^ Gagging Congress
  17. ^
  18. ^ Access to Memos Is Affirmed (
  19. ^ "Federal Bureau of Investigation's Foreign Language Translation Program Follow-Up Audit Report 05-33, Appendix 7: Update on the Office of the Inspector General’s July 2004 Report, “A Review of the FBI’s Actions in Connection with Allegations Raised by Contract Linguist Sibel Edmonds”". Office of the Inspector General, Audit Division. January 2005. pp. 40–41. Retrieved on 2007-06-19. "The OIG review concluded that many of Edmonds’s core allegations relating to the co-worker had some basis in fact and were supported by either documentary evidence or witnesses other than Edmonds. … With respect to Edmonds’s claim that she was terminated from the FBI in retaliation for her complaints, the OIG review concluded that her allegations were at least a contributing factor in the FBI’s decision to terminate her services. With regard to various other allegations made by Edmonds concerning the FBI’s foreign language program, our review substantiated some but did not substantiate others. … We did not find sufficient evidence to substantiate Edmonds’s allegations that the FBI condoned time and attendance abuse, an intentional slow down of work to support hiring additional analysts, or travel fraud."  HTML version of Appendix 7 also available.
  20. ^ "A Review of the FBI's Actions in Connection With Allegations Raised By Contract Linguist Sibel Edmonds, Special Report, January 2005 (Unclassified Summary)". Office of the Inspector General, Office of Oversight and Review. July 2004. pp. 10–11, 31. Retrieved on 2007-06-19. "We found that many of Edmonds' core allegations relating to the co-worker were supported by either documentary evidence or witnesses other than Edmonds. … With respect to an allegation that focused on the co-worker's performance, which Edmonds believed to be an indication of a security problem, the evidence clearly corroborated Edmonds' allegations. … With regard to some of Edmonds' allegations, the OIG did not find evidence to support her allegation or the inferences that she drew from certain facts. However, Edmonds' assertions regarding the co-worker, when viewed as a whole, raised substantial questions and were supported by various pieces of evidence. … Rather than investigate Edmonds' allegations vigorously and thoroughly, the FBI concluded that she was a disruption and terminated her contract. We concluded that the FBI could not show, by clear and convincing evidence, that it would have terminated Edmonds' services absent her disclosures. … We believe that many of her allegations were supported, that the FBI did not take them seriously enough, and that her allegations were, in fact, the most significant factor in the FBI's decision to terminate her services."  HTML version also available.
  21. ^ American Civil Liberties Union : ACLU Urges Supreme Court to Review Case of FBI Whistleblower
  22. ^ Sibel Edmonds - Letters/Statements/Speeches
  23. ^ Edmonds, Sibel (2005-05-14). "Gagged, But Not Dead". Retrieved on 2007-06-19. 
  24. ^ "Kill The Messenger Une Femme à Abattre". Retrieved on 2006-09-05. 
  25. ^ Rose, David (September 2005). "An Inconvenient Patriot". Vanity Fair. 

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

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