Sibel Edmonds

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Sibel Edmonds
Edmonds in 2012
Born1970 (age 53–54)
NationalityTurkish-American, Iranian-American
Known forWhistleblower

Sibel Edmonds is a former contract translator for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the founder and editor-in-chief of the independent news website NewsBud.

The FBI hired her as a translator shortly after 9/11 but fired her after less than seven months. She identified herself as a whistleblower and challenged her termination; however, the courts dismissed her lawsuit for wrongful termination because the FBI would need to disclose privileged information. She 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. [1][2][3] Following her accusations, the US attorney-general imposed a state secrets privilege order on her, which prevents her from revealing more information about the FBI.[4] The PEN American Center awarded her the PEN/Newman's Own First Amendment Award in 2006 for her claims.[5] She published a memoir in March 2012, titled Classified Woman – The Sibel Edmonds Story.[6]

In 2004, Sibel Edmonds founded and published the Boiling Frogs Post, an online media site that claims to offer nonpartisan investigative journalism.[7] In 2016 as editor-in-chief Sibel expanded and founded NewsBud independent news media with associates, partnered with BFP.[8]

Early life, family and education[edit]

The daughter of an Iranian Azerbaijani father and Turkish mother,[9] Edmonds lived in Iran and then Turkey before coming to the United States as a student[10] in 1988. Fluent in Azerbaijani, Turkish, Persian and English,[10][11][12] Edmonds earned her bachelor's degree in criminal justice and psychology from George Washington University[10] and her master's in public policy and international commerce from George Mason University.[11]

In 1992, at age 22, she married Matthew Edmonds, a retail-technology consultant from Virginia.[10]

FBI employment[edit]

Edmonds worked for the FBI for six months from late September 2001 until March 2002. Edmonds was hired, as a contractor, to work as an interpreter in the translations unit of the FBI in Washington on[13] September 13, September 15, or September 20, 2001. Among her main roles was to translate covertly recorded conversations by Turkish diplomatic and political targets.[1]

Edmonds filed complaints with 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[14] against her, and she was fired on March 22, 2002. In June 2002, the Associated Press and Washington Post reported that the FBI claimed Edmonds was dismissed because her actions were disruptive and breached security and that she performed poorly at her job.[15] A 2005 internal investigation by the FBI Office of the Inspector General 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.[16]

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.[17][18][19]


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 and worked for just over six months, 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 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."[13] On the 26th, a deposition of Edmonds was quashed under the state secrets privilege.[20]

On May 13, 2004, Ashcroft submitted statements to justify the use of the state secrets privilege against the planned deposition by Edmonds,[21] 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.[22]

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.[23] The reclassification did, however, keep Edmonds from testifying in the class action suit as well as her own whistleblower suit.[24][25] 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."[26]

In August 2004, Edmonds founded the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), which exists to assist national security whistleblowers through advocacy and reform.[27][28][29]

In September 2005, Edmonds claimed in Vanity Fair that a price was set for Dennis Hastert to withdraw support for the Armenian genocide resolution. That the "... Turkish Consulate ... claimed in one recording that the price for Hastert to withdraw the resolution would have been at least $500,000."[30][31]

In September 2006, a documentary about Edmonds's case called Kill the Messenger (Une Femme à Abattre) premiered in France.[32] The film discusses the Edmonds case and offers interviews with various involved individuals.

Edmonds gave testimony in August 2009 and gave information that had twice previously been gagged under state secrets privilege.[33][34]

On February 1, 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.

Edmonds said that two agents with whom this other translator had worked reported this information to a "Special Agent in Charge (SAC)" months before the attack. After the attack, one of them told their translator that the SAC "called us into his office and gave us an order; an absolute order [that] we never got any warnings. Those conversations never existed; it never happened; period. He said this is very sensitive…and that no one should ever mention a word about this case; period.'"[35]

Classified Woman[edit]

In 2012, she published an autobiography called Classified Woman – The Sibel Edmonds Story: A Memoir. Reviewing the book for The American Conservative, Philip Giraldi said that some details of the book could be challenged due to passage of time. However, he felt the central thesis of government incompetence and corruption was correct.[36]


Sibel Edmonds, along with others, formed NewsBud,[37] supported by Kickstarter donations. Sibel Edmonds's primarily solo Boiling Frogs Post featuring articles and videos is being merged and absorbed into NewsBud – so BFP content is becoming NewsBud content and NewsBud content occasionally appears as a BFP heading or website.[7]


  • Sibel D. Edmonds: Classified Woman – The Sibel Edmonds Story: A Memoir. (2012) ISBN 0-615-60222-3
  • Sibel D. Edmonds: The Lone Gladio (Volume 1) (2014) ISBN 0-692-21329-5

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Calvert, Jonathan; Lauria, Joe (January 6, 2008). "For sale: West's deadly nuclear secrets". The Sunday Times. London. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
  2. ^ "FBI denies file exposing nuclear secrets theft". The Sunday Times. January 20, 2008. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
  3. ^ Calvert, Jonathan; Lauria, Joe (January 27, 2008). "Tip-off thwarted nuclear spy ring probe". The Sunday Times. Archived from the original on August 2, 2016.
  4. ^ "For sale: West's deadly nuclear secrets – Times Online". March 18, 2008. Archived from the original on March 18, 2008. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
  5. ^ Larry Siems (March 29, 2006). "2006 PEN/Newman's Own First Amendment Award". PEN American Center. Archived from the original on December 18, 2013. Retrieved February 20, 2014.
  6. ^ "The Sibel Edmonds Story | A Memoir". Classified Woman. Archived from the original on June 6, 2016. Retrieved May 22, 2013.
  7. ^ a b About Boiling Frogs Post. URL accessed April 20, 2010.
  8. ^ Edmonds, Sibel (October 18, 2009). "About NewsBud". NewsBud. Archived from the original on November 30, 2016. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
  9. ^ "Sibel Edmonds". KKC.
  10. ^ a b c d Rose, David (August 15, 2005). "An Inconvenient Patriot". Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on May 3, 2013. Retrieved December 9, 2016. "But as a naturalized Turkish-American, she saw the job as her patriotic duty."
  11. ^ a b "National Security Whistleblowers Coalition – About Us". Retrieved October 15, 2008.
  12. ^ Kill The Messenger (2006) documentary, CANAL+ / Zadig Productions, 2006, from 4m47s to 4m55s
  13. ^ a b BUNCOMBE, ANDREW (April 2004). "'I saw papers that show US knew al-Qa'ida would attack cities with aeroplanes'". Independent. Retrieved May 15, 2015.
  14. ^ 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"
  15. ^ "FBI Told to Give Papers to Whistleblower". Archived from the original on May 16, 2011.
  16. ^ "A Review of the FBI's Actions in Connection With Allegations Raised By Contract Linguist Sibel Edmonds". U.S. Department of Justice – Office of the Inspector General.
  17. ^ "Government is Abusing "States Secrets Privilege" to Cover Up National Security Blunders, ACLU Says". ACLU. January 12, 2005. Retrieved August 16, 2009.
  18. ^ "Grassley Seeks Overhaul of FBI's Translation Unit". October 28, 2002. Archived from the original on October 15, 2006. Retrieved August 16, 2009.
  19. ^ "August 13, 2002 letter from Senators Leahy & Grassley to Attorney General John Ashcroft". August 13, 2002. Archived from the original on November 20, 2002. Retrieved August 16, 2009.
  20. ^ Strohm, Chris (April 30, 2004). "Quashed Testimony". Government Executive. Archived from the original on August 3, 2004.
  21. ^ "Statement of John Ashcroft filed in Burnett v. Al Baraka Investment & Dev. Corp" (PDF). May 13, 2004. Retrieved August 16, 2009.
  22. ^ "POGO v. John Ashcroft". June 23, 2004.
  23. ^ Smith, R. Jeffrey (February 23, 2005). "Access to Memos Is Affirmed". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
  24. ^ "FBI translator suit dismissed over security issues". CNN. July 6, 2004. Retrieved August 16, 2009.
  25. ^ "FBI Whistleblower Suit Thrown Out". FOX News. July 6, 2004. Retrieved August 16, 2009.
  26. ^ "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 June 19, 2007. 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.
  27. ^ National Security Whistleblowers Coalition purpose message. URL accessed April 20, 2010.
  28. ^ Edmonds, Sibel (December 2016). "Newsbud's Warning on the Fake News Bucket List – Watch out for the Wolves in Sheep's Clothing". NewsBud. Archived from the original on December 1, 2016. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
  29. ^ Edmonds, Sibel. "Newsbud's Warning on the Fake News Bucket List – Watch out for the Wolves in Sheep's Clothing". YouTube. NewsBud. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
  30. ^ "An Inconvenient Patriot". Vanity Fair. October 2005. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  31. ^ "Hastert Should also be Investigated On Turkish Bribery Accusations". The Californian Courier. June 2, 2015. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  32. ^ "Kill The Messenger Une Femme à Abattre". Retrieved September 5, 2006.
  33. ^ "BEFORE THE OHIO ELECTIONS COMMISSION DEPOSITION" (PDF). Retrieved June 12, 2015.  HTML version.
  34. ^ "Formerly-'Gagged' FBI Whistleblower Details Congressional Blackmail, Bribery, Espionage, Corruption in Remarkable Videotaped Deposition". Huffington Post. September 27, 2009. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  35. ^ "The FBI "Kamikaze Pilots" Case". Newsbud. February 1, 2011. Retrieved December 25, 2020. This "absolute order" that "we never got any warnings" is consistent with the comment by Senator Bob Graham, a member of the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001 that, "the F.B.I. [went] beyond just covering up ... into ... aggressive deception." It is also consistent with the information in "The 28 pages" redacted from the December 2002 report of that Joint Inquiry, which documented FBI awareness of multiple incidents from at least as early as 1999 indicating preparations for attack(s) something like what actually happened in the September 11 attacks. These 28 pages were declassified July 15, 2016. See also, Carl Hulse (April 13, 2015). "Florida Ex-Senator Pursues Claims of Saudi Ties to Sept. 11 Attacks". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Wikidata Q65002265..
  36. ^ "Sibel Edmonds's Secrets". American Conservative. November 23, 2012. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  37. ^ "NewsBud – Where Media Integrity Matters". NewsBud. October 18, 2009. Archived from the original on November 30, 2016. Retrieved November 29, 2016.

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