The Sibel Edmonds case–forgotten, but still vitally important

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It has now been a year and nine months since Senators Charles Grassley and Patrick Leahy sent their letter to John Ashcroft, Robert Mueller, and Glenn Fine, asking that retroactively-declared classified documents be made available to the public. Both of Bush’s Attorneys General have used the little-known States Secrets law to keep former FBI translater Sibel Edmonds from revealing what she knows.

It has also been a year and ten months since Edmonds sent her letter to 9/11 Commission chairman Tom Kean, rightfully accusing the commission of bypassing one of the most important issues of the September 11 tragedy–the failure of the FBI to translate thousands of documents. Edmonds, you will recall, blew the whistle on the FBI failure, and was fired from the bureau. Her case has been wrapped in secrecy, with the government using “national security” as a way to silence her. The U.S. Department of Justice declared that the FBI failed to properly investigate Edmonds’ allegations, but when Edmonds sued the FBI, a U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the White House’s decision to keep all relevant documents secret, even though many of them were not previously listed as classified.

Edmonds’ accusations go beyond the FBI’s failure to translate documents that might have spared the country the attacks of September 11, 2001. She also says that drug money and money laundering were factors in the events leading to September 11, and that some lobbyists and elected officials may have been beneficiaries. Edmonds has also created the National Security Whistleblowers’ Coaltion, whose goals include providing protection for whistleblowers, creation of better accountability, and the promotion of policy changes.

On November 28, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Edmonds’ appeal, following the dismissal of her lawsuit against the FBI. Since then, the news media–which treated the story as a filler rather than one of the most important stories of the decade–has been totally quiet about her case. On March 24, Edmonds asked the judge assigned to her latest suit against the FBI to recuse himself because of his decision to keep his financial disclosure information private.

On April 18, Sibel Edmonds received the PEN Newman’s Own Award from PEN. Edmonds’ website, Just A Citizen, contains a petition for people to sign to get the FBI documents released, information about Edmonds, and a collection of documents and news items pertaining to national security whistleblowing.

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