FBI, Congress: Sibel Edmonds case ‘unclassified’

by | Jul 31, 2007 | Stress Blog | 10 comments

Former FBI translator and whistleblower Sibel Edmonds is the most gagged woman in US history. Attorney General John Ashcroft twice invoked the rarely used States Secrets Privilege in her case under the guise of classified secrets and protecting national security.

In a recent speech, Sibel again emphasized that the reason that she has been gagged is not for reasons of national security, but rather to cover-up criminality, treason, by high level US officials.

As evidence for this claim, Sibel explained that for the three months prior to Ashcroft blanket-gagging her case, the FBI was conducting unclassified briefings for Congress on the case.

In other words, from the beginning, neither Congress, nor the FBI, even considered that this information might be classified, let alone a ‘national security’ issue.

As Michael Ostrolenk, National Director of the Liberty Coalition, said: “The excuse of protecting national security is fallacious.”

(more below the fold) During the Q&A session after the speech, Sibel was asked where we should draw the line between disclosure and national security. Sibel responded thusly (mp3 – 3 mins):

“I can tell you, just from my case (and from other whistleblower cases that I’ve represented) it almost doesn’t deal with any classified information at all. That’s why they went and retroactively classified the information.

Even with Congress, one important thing that I have tried to emphasize – and unfortunately the mainstream media is not there really as far as these real issues are concerned… When I went to Congress, I didn’t know which Congressmen, Congresswomen, Senators to go to! Because part of my case dealt with our representatives, (and this was based on some counter-intelligence operations) were getting cash bribery from foreign governments. And when I internally started reporting this, and it was not getting anywhere, this great agent that I worked with… said:

“Well, let’s say you go to Congress. How are you going to determine who is clean to go to?”

And to me that was really sobering, because he told me:

Just based on Turkish counter-intelligence operations, you know of FOUR corrupt congressional people. Take a look at this room (of translators), we have the Chinese Department, we have, you know, the Arabic, including Saudi Arabia and everything. How many (other corrupt Congressfolk) do you think they have come across?

When the two Senators, Senator Leahy and Senator Grassley, one Democrat and one Republican, they heard this information, the FBI discussed the entire case with them during an unclassified meeting – meaning the staff members present during that meeting, none – or most – of them didn’t have clearances. So the FBI had decided in the beginning that this was not classified. What happened later? 3 months later? when the Attorney General says ‘Oops, this is really going to hurt us’ – meaning those who were guilty – ‘so we’re going to decide to classify it’

I’m a bit of a dunce, and I’d never fully appreciated this. Sibel has repeatedly mentioned that she often had to suggest that certain hearings be held inside SCIFs (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities) but I had presumed that was simply because the Senate Judiciary Committee staffers didn’t really know what they were doing. But here we have the FBI – presumably Counter-Intelligence agents who likely know a thing or two about classification, secrecy and national security – confirming Sibel’s allegations in unclassified sessions with Congress.

As I said, I’m a dunce. The ACLU timeline on Sibel’s case reads:

“JUNE 2002: Senators Grassley and Leahy write the Justice Department Inspector General a letter asking specific questions about Edmonds’ allegations and write that the FBI has confirmed many of her allegations in unclassified briefings. This letter is later retroactively classified in May 2004.”

You’d think that I’d have understood this already. That’s the beauty of the Sibel Edmonds case – there’s always something ‘new’ to learn. And this week I learnt that even the FBI didn’t think that the information in Sibel’s case deserved to be classified, even as a precaution.

(The 75 min video of Sibel’s recent ALA speech is available here (500meg) )

Let Sibel Edmonds Speak
Call Waxman. Demand public open hearings:
DC phone: (202) 225-3976
LA phone: 323 651-1040
Capitol switchboard phone: 800-828-0498