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Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Sacking Sibel 

The NYT has put its mitts on a classified letter from the DoJ inspector general, who says Sibel Edmonds has a legitimate beef:
A classified Justice Department investigation has concluded that a former F.B.I. translator at the center of a growing controversy was dismissed in part because she accused the bureau of ineptitude, and it found that the F.B.I. did not aggressively investigate her claims of espionage against a co-worker.

The Justice Department's inspector general concluded that the allegations by the translator, Sibel Edmonds, "were at least a contributing factor in why the F.B.I. terminated her services," and the F.B.I. is considering disciplinary action against some employees as a result, Robert S. Mueller III, director of the bureau, said in a letter last week to lawmakers. A copy of the letter was obtained by The New York Times.

Ms. Edmonds worked as a contract linguist for the F.B.I. for about six months, translating material in Turkish, Persian and Azerbaijani. She was dismissed in 2002 after she complained repeatedly that bureau linguists had produced slipshod and incomplete translations of important terrorism intelligence before and after the Sept. 11 attacks. She also accused a fellow Turkish linguist in the bureau's Washington field office of blocking the translation of material involving acquaintances who had come under F.B.I. suspicion and said the bureau had allowed diplomatic sensitivities with other nations to impede the translation of important terrorism intelligence . . . .

The Justice Department has imposed an unusually broad veil of secrecy on the Edmonds case, declaring details of her case to be a matter of "state secrets." The department has blocked her from testifying in a lawsuit brought by families of Sept. 11 victims, it has retroactively classified briefings Congressional officials were given in 2002, and it has classified the inspector general's entire report on its investigation into her case. As a result, groups promoting government openness have accused the Justice Department of abusing the federal procedures in place for classifying sensitive material.

Given the tight secrecy surrounding the case, "one could argue that Mueller himself disclosed classified material" by quoting from a still-secret Justice Department report, said one congressional official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Here's Sibel Edmonds's personal take on the 9/11 report:
This puzzles me, knowing the detailed information I myself provided to the commission during a three and a half hour tape-recorded briefing, yet finding only one footnote (footnote 25) briefly stating insufficient translation capability within the FBI. It is highly curious that the report mentions nothing regarding the "intentionally blocked translations by certain Middle Eastern Translators, who also breached FBI security, as confirmed by the Senate Judiciary"; nothing regarding "adamant resistance to investigations of certain terrorist and criminal activities; refusing to transfer them to counterterrorism from existing counterintelligence investigations, solely based on the vague notion of protecting certain foreign relations"; nothing regarding "continued efforts to cover up certain highly specific information received prior to September 11, even now, years after 9/11"; and nothing regarding "knowingly allowing certain individuals, directly or indirectly related to terrorist activities, to leave the United States months after 9/11, without any interrogation, and per the State Department's request."

This puzzles me, having firsthand knowledge of ongoing intelligence received and processed by the FBI since 1997, which contained specific information implicating certain high level government and elected officials in criminal activities directly and indirectly related to terrorist money laundering, narcotics, and illegal arms sales. It is highly curious that the report omitted all this information, knowing that others in the Congress have been briefed on these issues and have been given the names of targets involved, special agents, translators, field offices, and files.

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