|Sibel Deniz Edmonds|
|Known for||American Whistleblower|
Sibel Deniz Edmonds is a former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) translator and founder of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC). Edmonds gained public attention following her firing from her position as a language specialist at the FBI's Washington Field Office in March 2002. She had accused a colleague of covering up illicit activity involving Turkish nationals, alleged serious security breaches and cover-ups and that intelligence had been deliberately suppressed, endangering national security. Her later claims gained her awards and fame as a whistleblower. She has been described as "the most gagged person in American history" by the American Civil Liberties Union.[dubious ]
She is the founder and publisher of the Boiling Frogs Post, an online media site that aims to offer nonpartisan investigative journalism. In March 2012, she published a memoir, titled Classified Woman – The Sibel Edmonds Story. Edmonds has also worked to investigate and write about corruption in Afghanistan.
Early life and education
The daughter of an Iranian Azerbaijani father and Turkish mother, Edmonds lived in Iran and then Turkey before coming to the United States as a student in 1988. Fluent in Turkish, Persian, English and Azerbaijani, Edmonds earned her bachelor's degree in criminal justice and psychology from George Washington University and her master's in public policy and international commerce from George Mason University.
Edmonds was hired, as a contractor, to work as an interpreter in the translations unit of the FBI in Washington on either September 13, or September 20 2001. Among her main roles was to translate covertly recorded conversations by Turkish diplomatic and political targets.
Edmonds filed complaints about the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility and the United States Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General. In response, she claims that managers retaliated against her, and she was finally fired on March 22, 2002. In June 2002, the Associated Press and Washington Post reported, upon investigation, that Edmonds was dismissed because her actions were disruptive and breached security and that she performed poorly at her job. A later[when?] internal investigation by the FBI found that many of Edmonds's allegations of misconduct "had some basis in fact" and that "her allegations were at least a contributing factor in the FBI’s decision to terminate her services," but were unable to substantiate all of her allegations, nor did they make a statement regarding her dismissal being improper.
Edmonds's allegations of impropriety at the FBI later came to the attention of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which held unclassified hearings on the matter on June 17, 2002, and July 9, 2002. During the hearings, the FBI provided various unclassified documents and statements relating to the case, which led to Senators Patrick Leahy and Chuck Grassley sending letters, dated June 19, 2002, August 13, 2002, and October 28, 2002 – to Inspector General Glenn A. Fine, Attorney General Ashcroft, and FBI Director Robert Mueller, respectively – asking for explanations and calling for an independent audit of the FBI's translation unit. These documents were published on the Senators' web sites.
On August 15, 2002, a separate suit, Burnett v. Al Baraka Investment & Dev. Corp., was filed by families of 600 victims of the September 11, 2001 (9/11) attacks against Saudi banks, charity organizations, and companies. Although the claims were eventually dismissed, Edmonds planned to file a deposition in this case. On May 13, 2004, Ashcroft submitted statements to justify the use of the State secrets privilege against the planned deposition by Edmonds, and the same day, the FBI retroactively classified as Top Secret all of the material and statements that had been provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2002 relating to Edmonds's own lawsuit, as well as the letters that had been sent by the Senators and republished by the Project on Government Oversight.
In April 2004, Edmonds claimed she had provided information to the panel investigating the September 11 attacks in February that year. Although she started work shortly after 9/11, she claimed knowledge of information circulating within the FBI during spring and summer of 2001. The session was closed and over three hours long, she said. Reportedly, she told the commission that in the FBI knew of a planned attack months away and the terrorists were in place. She stated, "There was general information about the time-frame, about methods to be used but not specifically about how they would be used and about people being in place and who was ordering these sorts of terror attacks. There were other cities that were mentioned. Major cities with skyscrapers."
On June 23, 2004, the retroactive reclassification was challenged in a suit filed by the Project on Government Oversight, citing fear that the group might be retroactively punished for having published the letters on its website. The Justice Department tried to get the suit dismissed, and the Justice Department explicitly approved their release to the Project on Government Oversight. The reclassification did, however, keep Edmonds from testifying in the class action suit as well as her own whistleblower suit. The latter decision was appealed, and Inspector General Glenn A. Fine released a summary of the audit report, claiming “that many of her allegations were supported, that the FBI did not take them seriously enough, and that her allegations were, in fact, the most significant factor in the FBI's decision to terminate her services. Rather than investigate Edmonds's allegations vigorously and thoroughly, the FBI concluded that she was a disruption and terminated her contract.”
In August, 2004, Edmonds founded the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), which exists to assist national security whistleblowers through advocacy and reform. Edmonds is also the founder and publisher of the Boiling Frogs Post, an online media site that aims to offer nonpartisan investigative journalism.
In September 2006, a documentary about Edmonds case called Kill the Messenger (Une Femme à Abattre) premiered in France. The film discusses the Edmonds case as well as offers interviews with various involved individuals. In the film Edmonds, former CIA agent Philip Giraldi, and others say that Israel was a significant actor in the illicit activities Edmonds discovered.
On 1 February 2011, Edmonds published a story on her own website, adding details of events she described as taking place in April 2001. The account is of another translator's description of meetings with an Iranian informant months before 9/11, and FBI agents' reaction to it:
- Bin Laden’s group is planning a massive terrorist attack in the United States. The order has been issued. They are targeting major cities, big metropolitan cities; they think four or five cities; New York City, Chicago, Washington DC, and San Francisco; possibly Los Angeles or Las Vegas. They will use airplanes to carry out the attacks. They said that some of the individuals involved in carrying this out are already in the United States. They are here in the U.S.; living among us, and I believe some in US government already know about all of this.
It was believed the agents reported this information internally at the FBI but it is unclear that it ever went beyond that, in fact, both the agents remarked, and the translator told Edmonds, that the intelligence was not specific enough to take action upon.
In 2012, she published an autobiography called Classified Woman – The Sibel Edmonds Story: A Memoir.
Investigating Afghanistan following the U.S. intervention
Edmonds has drawn attention to issues of corruption in Afghanistan, especially regarding waste, fraud, cronyism, drug trafficking and abuse. This includes the U.S. taxpayer funded Kabul Bank, and its scandalous collapse, involving the disappearance of hundreds of millions of dollars and the controversial, elite Afghans linked to the Karzai family including Ahmed Wali Karzai, Mahmud Karzai, Hamid Karzai and others. Edmonds has also raised concerns about controversial Members of the U.S. Congress involved in Afghanistan, including conservative Republican former Congressman Donald L. Ritter of Pennsylvania for his role in Afghanistan, following the U.S. intervention, and Ritter's close and complex business associations with Mahmud Karzai and other Afghans who have been the subject of investigative reports by independent news media sources or financial auditors.. Edmonds has reported on heroin drug trafficking in Afghanistan.
Operation Gladio B is an FBI codename adopted in 1997 for ongoing relations between US intelligence, the Pentagon, and Al Qaeda. The name refers to the original Operation Gladio, in which US intelligence had relations with anti-communist groups in Europe.
According to Edmonds, Gladio B identified, among other things, regular meetings between senior US intelligence and current leader of Al Qaeda Ayman al-Zawahiri at the U.S. embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan between 1997 and 2001, with al-Zawahiri and other mujahideen being transported by NATO aircraft to Central Asia and the Balkans to participate in Pentagon-backed destabilisation operations. She added that in 1997, NATO asked Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to release from prison Islamist militants affiliated to Ayman al-Zawahiri. They were flown by U.S. intelligence orders to Turkey for training and use in operations by the Pentagon. Additionally, she reported that an Al-Qaeda leader had been training some of the 9-11 hijackers at a base in Turkey. These and related allegations were seemingly confirmed by Sunday Times journalists in 2008 by speaking to Pentagon and MI6 sources. However, according to several sources, the journalists were prevented from publishing many of these allegations when the second half of their four part series was dropped possibly due to pressure from the U.S. State Department. She suggests that the objectives of Gladio B are "projecting U.S. power in the former Soviet sphere of influence to access previously untapped strategic energy and mineral reserves for U.S. and European companies; pushing back Russian and Chinese power; and expanding the scope of lucrative criminal activities, particularly illegal arms and drugs trafficking." Former FBI special agent Dennis Saccher states Edmonds's story “should have been front page news” because it is “a scandal bigger than Watergate.”
- Sibel D. Edmonds: Classified Woman - The Sibel Edmonds Story: A Memoir. (2012) ISBN 0615602223
- Sibel D. Edmonds: The Lone Gladio (Volume 1) (2014) ISBN 0692213295
- Larry Siems (2006-03-29). "2006 PEN/Newman's Own First Amendment Award". PEN American Center. Archived from the original on 2014-02-20. Retrieved 2014-02-20.
- Kill the Messenger. SBS Australia, 2007. Documentary.
- About Boiling Frogs Post. URL accessed 20 April 2010.
- "The Sibel Edmonds Story | A Memoir". Classified Woman. Retrieved 2013-05-22.
- Rose, David (2005-08-15). "An Inconvenient Patriot". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2007-06-19. “But as a naturalized Turkish-American, she saw the job as her patriotic duty.”
- "National Security Whistleblowers Coalition – About Us". Retrieved 2008-10-15.
- BUNCOMBE, ANDREW. "'I saw papers that show US knew al-Qa'ida would attack cities with aeroplanes'". Independent. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- "For sale: West’s deadly nuclear secrets". Sunday Times (London). 6 January 2008. Retrieved 2010-05-23.
- US Court of Appeals Reply Brief of the Plaintiff-Appellant, SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT
"provides direct support for Ms. Edmonds allegation that the FBI fired her for disclosing serious security breaches within the agency"
- "Federal Bureau of Investigation's Foreign Language Translation Program Follow-Up Audit Report 05-33, Appendix 7: Update on the Office of the Inspector General’s July 2004 Report, "A Review of the FBI’s Actions in Connection with Allegations Raised by Contract Linguist Sibel Edmonds"" (PDF). Office of the Inspector General, Audit Division. January 2005. pp. 40–41. Retrieved 2007-06-19.
The OIG review concluded that many of Edmonds’s core allegations relating to the co-worker had some basis in fact and were supported by either documentary evidence or witnesses other than Edmonds. … With respect to Edmonds’s claim that she was terminated from the FBI in retaliation for her complaints, the OIG review concluded that her allegations were at least a contributing factor in the FBI’s decision to terminate her services. With regard to various other allegations made by Edmonds concerning the FBI’s foreign language program, our review substantiated some but did not substantiate others. … We did not find sufficient evidence to substantiate Edmonds’s allegations that the FBI condoned time and attendance abuse, an intentional slow down of work to support hiring additional analysts, or travel fraud.HTML version of Appendix 7 also available.
- "Government is Abusing "States Secrets Privilege" to Cover Up National Security Blunders, ACLU Says". ACLU. 2005-01-12. Retrieved 2009-08-16.
- "Grassley Seeks Overhaul of FBI's Translation Unit". 2002-10-28. Archived from the original on 2006-10-15. Retrieved 2009-08-16.
- "August 13, 2002 letter from Senators Leahy & Grassley to Attorney General John Ashcroft". 2002-08-13. Archived from the original on 2002-11-20. Retrieved 2009-08-16.
- "$116 trillion lawsuit filed by 9/11 families". CNN. 2002-08-16. Retrieved 2009-08-16.
- "Text of original complaint" (PDF). FindLaw. 2002-08-15. Retrieved 2009-08-16.
- "Third amended complaint" (PDF). FindLaw. 2002-11-22. Retrieved 2009-08-16.
- "349 F.Supp.2d 765, RICO Bus.Disp.Guide 10,804". 2005-01-18. Retrieved 2009-08-16.
- "Statement of John Ashcroft filed in Burnett v. Al Baraka Investment & Dev. Corp." (PDF). 2004-05-13. Retrieved 2009-08-16.
- "POGO v. John Ashcroft (Washington DC U.S. District Court Civil Action No. 1:04cv01032 (JDB)) – Plaintiff's Statement of Material Facts" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-08-16.
- Smith, R. Jeffrey (2005-02-23). "Access to Memos Is Affirmed". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-05-23.
- "Order to quash the subpoena for deposition of Sibel Edmonds in Burnett v. Al Baraka Investment & Dev. Corp." (PDF). 2004-07-06. Retrieved 2009-08-16.
- "FBI translator suit dismissed over security issues". CNN. 2004-07-06. Retrieved 2009-08-16.
- "FBI Whistleblower Suit Thrown Out". FOX News. 2004-07-06. Retrieved 2009-08-16.
- "A Review of the FBI's Actions in Connection With Allegations Raised By Contract Linguist Sibel Edmonds, Special Report, January 2005 (Unclassified Summary)" (PDF). Office of the Inspector General, Office of Oversight and Review. July 2004. pp. 10–11, 31. Retrieved 2007-06-19.
We found that many of Edmonds's core allegations relating to the co-worker were supported by either documentary evidence or witnesses other than Edmonds. … With respect to an allegation that focused on the co-worker's performance, which Edmonds believed to be an indication of a security problem, the evidence clearly corroborated Edmonds's allegations. … With regard to some of Edmonds's allegations, the OIG did not find evidence to support her allegation or the inferences that she drew from certain facts. However, Edmonds's assertions regarding the co-worker, when viewed as a whole, raised substantial questions and were supported by various pieces of evidence. … Rather than investigate Edmonds's allegations vigorously and thoroughly, the FBI concluded that she was a disruption and terminated her contract. We concluded that the FBI could not show, by clear and convincing evidence, that it would have terminated Edmonds's services absent her disclosures. … We believe that many of her allegations were supported, that the FBI did not take them seriously enough, and that her allegations were, in fact, the most significant factor in the FBI's decision to terminate her services.HTML version also available.
- National Security Whistleblowers Coalition purpose message. URL accessed 20 April 2010.
- "Kill The Messenger Une Femme à Abattre". justacitizen.com. Retrieved 2006-09-05.
- February 1, 2011 (2011-02-01). "boilingfrog.com, a site founded and published by Sibel Edmonds". Boilingfrogspost.com. Retrieved 2014-06-17.
- March 7, 2013 (2013-03-07). "Connecting the Dots: Afghan Heroin, NATO, Azerbaijan Hub & Cargo Business". Boilingfrogspost.com. Retrieved 2014-06-17.
- Greenslade, Roy (2008-01-22). "US journalists ignore Sunday Times scoop on FBI nuclear scandal | Media". theguardian.com. Retrieved 2014-06-17.
Sibel Edmonds's sites:
- ACLU: "Sibel Edmonds: A Patriot Silenced, Unjustly Fired but Fighting Back to Help Keep America Safe"
- DemocracyNow!: "Former FBI Director Blasts Ashcroft For Ignoring Terrorist Threat Warnings"