Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Steve Perry of CounterPunch and BushWars recently interviewed fired FBI translator Sibel Edmonds, whose allegations of agency "incompetence, malfeasance, and possibly even espionage" pre- and post-9/11 were retroactively classified. (She is now suing to have the documents in her case released to the public under the FOIA act.) Edmonds believes that the information our government has been trying to suppress, if it comes out in time, could make the presidential race very interesting very quickly:
CP: Are you at liberty to discuss any of the other news that will be breaking in October?Perry also supplies useful links to several online resources that document Edmonds's claims:
Edmonds: No, but many pieces of the various information have been out. However, the dots to this date have not been really connected. That is, the issues I reported to the Inspector General’s office in the Department of Justice, and also to the 9/11 Commission and to Congress, can be classified in three different categories. One had to do with intentional blocking of translations by certain translators for various reasons. The other had to do with just pure incompetence. Certain translators were hired through back doors, even though these individuals failed proficiency exams or background security checks. And the third, most important issue had to do with, that the state secrets privilege was invoked not to protect state secrets, but invoked—and this hopefully will be out before this election—to cover up some other issues that had nothing to do with national security or state secrets. But by intentional action, some of them criminal actions, by certain authorities here in the United States.
Again, these issues were reported, I reported them to the Congress, to the Inspector General, and the 9/11 Commission, along with evidence. And they have been sitting on it. Once this comes out, they are going to be liable, too, by not doing anything about these issues, and abiding by these gag orders, considering that the gag orders were illegal in the first place. Even the National Security Archives called it illegal. Because Ashcroft had to meet three criteria in order to retroactively classify these investigations, and he did not meet these three criteria.
CP: The ironic thing, of course, is that so much regarding the substance of your claims is easily accessible on the Internet—it was even summarized pretty well on the front page of the New York Times a couple of months ago. So why the extraordinary lengths to prevent any congressional or court action, do you think?
Edmonds: Because if they don’t do that, the court proceedings would have gone on, and that would have exposed the issues they want to cover up. For example, thousands of websites contain these letters written by Senators Grassley and Leahy since 2002 about the unclassified meeting the Judiciary Committee had with FBI officials, during which the FBI officials confirmed all my allegations and denied none. Now, using this and using these letters that were written—these were public letters, and that puts the government at a disadvantage. They can’t say well, this is secret, we can’t talk about it, because they divulged this information during unclassified meetings themselves.
They are playing it both ways, but unfortunately no one is challenging that. Neither the courts, especially this particular judge. Which is very interesting. My case went from one judge to another judge, mysteriously, without being provided any explanation on why, until it landed with this judge, Reggie Walton, who was recently appointed by President Bush. And it stayed in front of him. So neither the judges nor Congress is challenging these actions.
As far as the Congress goes, the whole attitude has been, they’re afraid to be labeled unpatriotic. Or things such as, ‘Well, this is Ashcroft, and you don’t mess with him. This guy’s crazy.’ This is what the senators, even Republicans, are saying.
- Sibel Edmonds' charges: key excerpts from her Kean letter and letters written to the FBI by Senators Chuck Grassley and Patrick Leahy;
- Grassley/Leahy's letters (6/19/02 and 8/13/02) to the DoJ Inspector General and John Ashcroft;
- An article on the foreign group that Edmonds' translator colleague may have belonged to.