Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Sibel Edmonds Needs a Hand 

Read the letter, then sign the petition.

UPDATE: From James Ridgeway of the Village Voice:
[The FBI translation] division is already under fire from the Justice Department's inspector general and whistle-blowers, most notably Sibel Edmonds, who was fired from her job as a Farsi translator when she protested the way the work was being handled. Since Edmonds began speaking out, others have come forward . . . .

Edmonds, whose previous letters to [Senate Judiciary chair Charles Grassley and ranking minority member Patrick Leahy] were marked "classified" by John Ashcroft's Justice Department, purportedly in the interests of national security, is readying a federal court appeal to the gag order. She complained to her superiors that translators were unable to handle the languages in which they had been certified. For example, in one case, a man did not have proficiency in basic English, but was hired under pressure from family members who also had worked for the FBI. This man, according to Edmonds, not only was "placed in sole charge of translating for some of the most important/sensitive intelligence investigations, he was also sent to Guantánamo Bay to translate information collected from the detainees."

Meanwhile, other cases are turning up. One of them involves efforts by a longtime FBI counterintelligence agent to alert his superiors to special treatment accorded translators. John M. Cole, an FBI counterintelligence program officer with 18 years of experience, wrote Director Robert Mueller, in a letter dated March 17, 2003, "I have prepared several risk assessments concerning applicants for language specialists positions. In the majority of these risk assessments I found numerous areas where the backgrounds of these individuals had not been thoroughly investigated. In one case, I discovered that the applicant's father was a former military attaché who had been assigned to a foreign embassy in Washington, D.C. Despite my findings, these individuals were hired, given unescorted access and Top Secret security clearances." The applicant's father was a military attaché at the Pakistani embassy. According to Cole, it is well-known in Washington that all the Pakistani military attachés are in fact Pakistani intelligence officers.

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