Sibel Dinez Edmonds, a Turkish-American, was "hired as a translator by the FBI shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 because of her knowledge of Middle Eastern languages. She was fired less than a year later in March 2002 for reporting shoddy work and security breaches to her supervisors that could have prevented those attacks."
"On January 14, 2004, the Justice Department's Office unclassified summary of the Justice Department's Inspector General's report on Edmonds found that many of her claims '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.'"
On April 21, 2005, a "day after taking the extraordinary step of ordering a secret hearing," the Washington, D.C., U.S. Court of Appeals "denied pleas to open the former FBI translator's First Amendment case to the public," taking what James Ridgeway called "another twist..., as the government continued its seemingly endless machinations to shut her up."
After the Department of Justice succeeded in April 2004 to quash her testimony in "a class action lawsuit over the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks," on March 2, 2005, Sibel Edmonds made her Statement Before the House Committee on Government Reform, Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and Internal Relations. The essence of Edmond's opening statement was "Emerging Threats: Overclassification and Pseudo-classification."
On July 13, 2003, CBS News' posted an October 2002 interview by Ed Bradley with Edmonds. The introduction states that:
"This is the story of hundreds, if not thousands, of foreign language documents that the FBI neglected to translate before and after the Sept.11 attacks because of problems in its language department - documents that detailed what the FBI heard on wiretaps and learned during interrogations of suspected terrorists."
Edmonds said that "the documents weren't translated because the divison was riddled with incompetence and corruption."
The Department of Justice "has taken the unusual step of retroactively classifying information it gave to Congress nearly two years ago regarding a former F.B.I. translator who charged that the bureau had missed critical terrorist warnings, officials said [May 19, 2004]."
"Law enforcement officials say the secrecy surrounding the translator, Sibel Edmonds, is essential to protecting information that could reveal intelligence-gathering operations. But some members of Congress and Congressional aides said they were troubled by the move, which comes as critics have accused the Bush administration of excessive secrecy."
The Independent UK's Andrew Buncombe reported on April 26, 2004, that the Bush administration's Department of Justice is seeking to keep Edmonds from "providing evidence about 11 September intelligence failures to a group of relatives and survivors who have accused international banks and officials of aiding al-Qa'ida."
"Sibel Edmonds was subpoenaed by a law firm representing more than 500 family members and survivors of the attacks to testify that she had seen information proving there was considerable evidence before September 2001 that al-Qa'ida was planning to strike the US with aircraft. The lawyers made their demand after reading comments Mrs Edmonds had made to The Independent."
DOJ "is seeking to stop her from testifying, citing the rarely used 'state secrets privilege' ... senior government lawyers will try to gag Mrs Edmonds, claiming that disclosure of her evidence 'would cause serious damage to the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States'."
Tom Flocco wrote April 27, 2004, that Edmonds "did not back down regarding reported evidence she uncovered implicating espionage in the FBI and State Department when we recently asked whether she thought the explosive information would ever see the light of day."
"'As you know, I cannot say much about that'," Edmonds said, "'but why do you think Attorney General John Ashcroft asserted State Secret Privilege in my case when I decided to go public with what I had found in the translations?' ... Justice Department lawyers at the request of FBI Director Robert Mueller invoked the arcane legal procedure which even allows the withholding of evidence documents from the judge," Flocco wrote.
"The translator alluded to additional but more volatile allegations in a phone call on Friday night to Kyle Hence, cofounder of 9-11 Citizens Watch, who said in a widely distributed email that Edmonds told him 'if what she knows is revealed, it could lead to charges of treason being leveled against officials at top levels of the U.S. government,'" Flocco wrote.
"Hence added, 'If that is the case, then all those who have been involved in keeping this information from getting to the public are complicit in this treason.'"
Flocco cautioned that "Americans might not have to wait too long to find out," as in a Washington, DC courtroom on April 27, 2004, "FBI attorneys will appear before Judge Reginald Walton in an attempt to block attorney Ronald Motley's subpoena request to depose Edmonds as a witness for his $1 trillion lawsuit on behalf of 9-11 families to tell what she knows about prior warnings of the attacks."
In "DOJ Asked FBI Translator To Change Pre 9-11 Intercepts," Tom Flocco wrote March 24, 2004:
"Attorney General John Ashcroft told me 'he was invoking State Secret Privilage and National Security' when I told the FBI I wanted to go public with what I had translated from the pre 9-11 intercepts".
Edmonds said, "My translations of the pre 9-11 intercepts included [terrorist] money laundering, detailed and date specific information enough to alert the American people, and other issues dating back to 1999 which I won't go into right now."
Incredibly, Edmonds said "The senate Judiciary Committee, and the 911 Commission have heard me testify for lengthy periods of time time (3 hours) about very specific plots, dates, airplanes used as weapons, and specific idividuals and activities."
This explosive information has been kept under wraps by the White House, CIA, FBI, and DOJ since Edmond's 60 Minutes interview segment.
In the "Sept. 11 commission cites intelligence agency failures," Chris Strohm wrote March 24, 2004:
Edmonds said that the FBI had "real, specific" information relating to the Sept. 11 attacks before they happened. Sibel Edmonds worked for the agency working from Sept. 20, 2001 to March 2002.
"Edmonds said she was hired to retranslate material that was collected prior to Sept. 11 to determine if anything was missed in the translations that related to the plot. In her review, Edmonds said the documents clearly showed that the Sept. 11 hijackers were in the country and plotting to use airplanes as missiles. The documents also included information relating to their financial activities. Edmonds said she could not comment in detail because she has been under a Justice Department gag order since October 2002.
"Edmonds has testified before the Sept. 11 commission, the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Select Intelligence Committee."
Edmonds sued in July 2002 to contest her firing from the FBI. However, the suit was dismissed in July 2004 by Judge Reggie Walton in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, after Attorney General John Ashcroft invoked a rarely used power and declared the case as falling under "state secret" privilege.
The A.C.L.U. joined her cause in January 2005, when it asked the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to reinstate her suit against the government.
In February 2005, lawyers for the government said in a brief filed with the court that the suit could not continue without "disclosing privileged and classified information", and would therefore cause "significant damage to the national security and foreign policy of the United States."
"The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) sued the Justice Department and Attorney General John Ashcroft in June 2004 claiming the retroactive classification of Edmond's testimony was a violation of the First Amendment."
The Whistle Blower Series