Equality

What’s the Deal With Sibel Edmonds?

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WASHINGTON, D.C.–The latest rebuke to Sibel Edmonds, the former FBI translator who has been trying unsuccessfully to make public what she knows about the FBI’s 9-11-related operations, comes from the Supreme Court.

It has declined to hear her court case, thereby letting
stand decisions of the lower courts that enforce a
silence imposed upon her by the federal government.

The ACLU represented Edmonds. “Sibel Edmonds is a true patriot who deserved her
day in court,” said ACLU Associate Legal Director Ann
Beeson, in an official statement. “We are disappointed that the Supreme Court did not see the ongoing danger of allowing the FBI to
hide its blunders behind the ‘states secrets’
privilege.”

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.