Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Shut Up, Sibel 

Now that the Roberts court has refused to hear the case of fired FBI translator and 9/11 whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, we thought it would be nice to revisit a few of the embarrassments and scandals she hoped to make public. James Ridgeway has compiled a partial list:
Even though its own inspector general has found much of what Edmonds has to say to be correct, the Justice Department--first under Attorney General Ashcroft and now under Attorney General Gonzalez--have invoked the arcane States Secrets law to shut her up. The department simply declared everything in her case secret, in the interest of national security.

Here are some of the revelations the government is trying to cover up,
gleaned from earlier interviews:
  • When she was hired by the FBI as a translator after 9-11, Edmonds, a Turkish American born in Iran and fluent in Farsi and Turkish among other languages, discovered an odd network within the FBI where, among other things, relatives of foreign diplomats were working as interpreters. They were translating FBI wiretaps of foreign diplomats suspected of spying. As it turned out, these suspect family members were relatives of the translators--in other words moles working in the translation section.

  • Edmonds found her own initials forged on improper translations of documents--translations she had never seen before.

  • Edmonds was startled when what she considered ill-trained and incompetent interpreters were sent to Guantanamo Bay to translate detainee interviews. For example, one Turkish Kurd was dispatched to interpret Farsi, a language he did not speak.

  • Edmonds learned that a longtime reliable FBI asset who reported on Afghanistan, told FBI agents in April 2001 of al Qaeda’s plans to attack the U.S.

  • In the course of her work, Edmonds discovered Islamic terrorists might well have become entangled in ongoing international drug and money laundering. She suspects that this knowledge was one of the reasons the Justice Department classified everything in her case.
When Edmonds sought to protest these and other irregularities to her superiors in the FBI, she was called a “whore” by her supervising agent, who told her he would next see her in jail. She was dismissed and escorted out of the FBI building. Edmonds never got a hearing before the 9-11 Commission, though she did have a chance to tell her story, sort of, on the side. A recent federal appeals court hearing on her case was made secret in the interest of national security. All in all, she was cast out as an enemy of the state. To fight back, she has launched a new organization to protect other government whistleblowers.

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