Friday, August 24, 2007

FBI divulges secrets in Sibel Edmonds case.

I recently wrote a post called "FBI, Congress: Sibel Edmonds case 'unclassified'" where I highlighted the fact that, for months, the FBI and Congress openly discussed the details of former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds' case in unclassified settings, with participants who did not have security clearances. That is, none of the participants, including high level Counter-Intelligence agents, considered that the information was 'secret.'

It was only later that Attorney General John Ashcroft decided that he needed to protect certain criminals (high level US officials at the Pentagon and State Department), and he slapped the State Secrets Privilege across the case.

In an apparent about-face, attorneys from the FBI and Dept of Justice have been discussing previously-classified elements of the case and placing it on the court record.

Is the information now declassified? Will the attorneys be prosecuted for harming national security? Is the State Secrets Privilege a scam? Will Sibel Edmonds be allowed to tell all?


You may remember the bizarre hearings from last week on the NSA illegal spying / State Secrets case which gave us this memorable exchange (from Wired's liveblogging):

Judge Hawkins wonders if the document is really that secret?

"Every ampersand, every comma is Top Secret?," Hawkins asks.

"This document is totally non-redactable and non-segregable and cannot even be meaningfully described," (Assistant U.S. Attorney General) Bondy answers.


Judge McKeown: "I feel like I'm in Alice in Wonderland."

(Plaintiff's attorney) Eisenberg: "I feel like I'm in Alice in Wonderland, too."

(see the Toldeo Blade's When secrets are secret' for more ludicrousness)

The reason that the USG needs to argue that "Every ampersand, every comma is Top Secret" and that the whole information is "non-redactable and non-segregable" is because the State Secrets Privilege (SSP) was originally constructed to exclude certain pieces of information from public disclosure in court actions in case the disclosure of those particular elements might harm national security interests by exposing certain justifiable State Secrets (sources and methods etc). The intent was never to use the SSP to shut down entire cases.

To get around this 'problem,' some government lawyer-types came up with a concept called the Mosaic Theory in which they argue that they can't disclose anything because foreign enemies might be able to put all the apparently disparate pieces of the 'mosaic' together and come and kill us all.

However, in actual usage the Mosaic Theory is used by governments to throw a blanket of secrecy over entire cases in order to cover-up their own criminality. In the NSA case, they need to argue that 'every ampersand' is protected and that everything is 'non-segregable' because once we start sliding down the slippery slope of actually identifying which elements of the case are legitimate secrets and which elements are covering up criminality, then the criminals within the government will be exposed and convicted.

And so it is in Sibel Edmonds' case.

The government has to argue that even the most mundane minutiae - including her date of birth - is a State Secret, and that everything about her case (actually, she's still permitted to use her name and state that she lives in the US) is 'non-segregable' because otherwise they'd be forced to explain/defend other elements of the case which can prove that high-level US officials are engaged in various criminal activities which can't be defended on legitimate grounds of national security / state secrets.

To put it more simply, they have to say 'everything is classified' otherwise they'd be in prison.

So this brings us back to the latest news. For five years the USG has said that 'everything' pertaining to Sibel and her case has been classified as a State Secret. This SSP has meant that Sibel hasn't been able to move her own case forward in the courts, and has also scared off Congress from doing anything about the case.

However, in recent depositions, FBI and DoJ attorneys have been openly discussing various items which were previously designated State Secrets under the SSP.

What say you, law-and-order types? Divulging State Secrets is treason, no?

National Security Whistleblowers Coalition statement:


Department of Justice, Which Claimed State Secrets Required Termination of Whistleblower Suit, Now Relies on Same "Secrets" to Avoid Tort Liability

Department of Justice and FBI attorneys, during recent depositions taken in FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds’ Federal Tort Claims case, Civil Action NO. 1:05-CV-540 (RMC), questioned witnesses regarding information previously designated "state secrets" by the Attorney General.

In April 2004, the Justice Department succeeded in preventing Edmonds from testifying in a lawsuit related to the September 11 terrorist attacks. The law firm of Motley Rice, representing September 11 family members, had subpoenaed Edmonds for a deposition, but the government argued that information provided by Edmonds "would cause serious damage to the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States." By invoking the state secrets privilege and citing classification concerns, the government quashed the subpoena, and even seemingly innocuous questions regarding Edmonds’ birth place, her date of birth, her languages, even her position as a translator with the FBI, were deemed covered by the state secrets privilege. To view the information classified in the Motley Rice subpoena Click Here

Other Court proceedings in Edmonds’ case were also blocked by the assertion of the state secrets privilege, and the Congress was gagged and prevented from investigating her case through retroactive re-classification of documents by DOJ. In May 2004, the Justice Department retroactively classified Edmonds' briefings to Senators Grassley and Leahy in 2002, as well as FBI briefings regarding her allegations. The congressional gag applied to all information related to Edmonds’ case, including the interrogation and arrest warrant issued for her sister in Turkey as a result of a leak regarding Edmonds’ monitoring of certain foreign targets of the FBI. To read the timeline on Edmonds’ case Click Here.

During recent depositions conducted by the Justice Department in a lawsuit filed by Edmonds under FTC, Department of Justice and FBI attorneys, Dan Barish and Ernest Batenga, questioned witnesses on and discussed information that was previously declared state secrets. This information was communicated on the record in the presence of parties who did not have security clearance. Information such as the nature of Ms. Edmonds’ work with the FBI, the specific FBI units where she performed translation, FBI target countries, the arrest warrant issued by the Turkish government for Ms. Edmonds’ sister, and congressional letters regarding the consequences of Dickerson’s espionage case in Turkey and here in the U.S., all of which were retroactively classified by the Justice Department, was discussed and put in the court record.

Edmonds’ responded to this recent development: “The Department of Justice has now confirmed what we knew all along: it is abusing the state secrets privilege to avoid accountability, not to protect national security. How can it be that the very same information is a state secret when it would assist plaintiffs suing the government, but not a state secret when it would assist the government in defeating plaintiffs? It's long past time for Congress to put an end to the government's misuse and abuse of the state secrets privilege."

Currently Edmonds, her attorneys, and civil liberties group are reviewing this latest disturbing development and its implications on other SSP and government secrecy cases. The law firm Motley Rice has also been notified since their case is still active.

The following quotes are from legal experts and government watchdog organizations:

“This latest revelation proves that throwing Ms. Edmonds’ case out of court was a travesty and a ploy, because no state secrets would have been revealed,” said David K. Colapinto, General Counsel for the National Whistleblower Center. “If the courts won’t prevent the government from using the State Secrets Privilege as a trump card to cover-up agency wrongdoing and to defeat meritorious claims, like Ms. Edmonds’ whistleblower case, then Congress must act to stop this odious practice,” Colapinto added.

"These latest revelations are indicative of the arbitrary and self-serving and excessive use of the state secrets privilege by the Executive Branch in order to defeat specific cases of concern at the time," said Mark S. Zaid, a Washington, D.C. attorney who served as counsel to Sibel Edmonds during her state secrets litigation and who has handled several such cases. “This is just another example of why either the Judiciary needs to aggressively challenge state secret assertions by the Executive Branch or Congress needs to intervene and legislatively limit the government's ability to utilize the privilege,” added Zaid.

"This proves the point we have been making all along,” said Michael D. Ostrolenk, National Director of the Liberty Coalition. "The use of the state secrets privilege against Mrs. Edmonds is not about protecting true national security. The government was not created to protect itself and various political and financial interests but to secure Americans rights.

Nancy Talanian, Director of Bill of Rights Defense Committee, stated "The DOJ's opportunistic classifying and divulging information raises suspicions about its motivation for using State Secrets to silence Ms. Edmonds. Now that the classified information has been revealed, it is time for Ms. Edmonds to have her long-awaited day in court." (emphasis mine)

This youtube is from a recent speech Sibel gave describing the abuse of the SSP

The National Whistleblower Center also issued a statement:
National Whistleblower Center Joins Coalition in Calling For An End To "State Secrets" Abuses

The National Whistleblower Center, along with a broad coalition of liberal, libertarian and conservative groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, and the Liberty Coalition, condemns the Government's abuse of the State Secrets Privilege in the case of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, and calls for swift action by Congress and the courts to stop this abuse.
On August 23, 2007, it was revealed that the Justice Department recently publicly revealed information that it had claimed was "privileged" and "secret" in Ms. Edmonds' case. The DOJ's recent actions show that it abused the State Secrets Privilege in Ms. Edmonds' whistleblower case in order to convince the court to dismiss her case.

NWC President, Stephen M. Kohn, issued the following statement in support of Ms. Edmonds:
"...the government used that alleged 'privilege' to have her case thrown out of court and cover up FBI wrongdoing. The government abused a 'privilege' to undermine constitutionally protected free speech and ignore an Inspector General's findings of retaliation..."

(Full NWC statement.)

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

(let me know if you want to be added to my email list which announces whenever I have a new Sibel-related post. Subject: 'Sibel email list')

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sibel Edmonds and the CIA/911 IG report

I haven't spoken to former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds about yesterday's release of the CIA/911 Inspector General's report. I can imagine some of the things that she'd say, though.

On the 'plus' side, she'd probably think that there was some benefit in the fact that there was some individual 'accountability' - after all, George Tenet, his deputy John McLaughlin, and Cofer Black were at least named.

She'd probably scoff at the notion that "information wasn't shared."

And she'd probably scoff at the notion that this was an 'executive summary.'

But most of all...

It's difficult to know where to start with 'But most of all...'

A leading contender is that, whatever the actual specifics of pre-911 intelligence, we have objective, factual, specific evidence that there was a post-911 cover-up (and yes, I'm going to be guilty here of conflating FBI vs CIA intelligence for the purposes of this post)

To take one example, in April 2001, a highly credible asset told the FBI that:
1) Osama bin Laden was planning a major terrorist attack in the United States targeting four or five major cities;
2) the attack was going to involve airplanes;
3) some of the individuals in charge of carrying out this attack were already in place in the United States;
4) the attack was going to be carried out soon, in a few months.

That information did not appear in the 911 Commission report. At all. Despite testimony from Sibel, and others. This case is documented. For one reason or other, thank goodness, one element of the case - 'four or five major cities' didnt fully eventuate. Still, it was the one piece of intelligence that was most accurate, even if only in retrospect. I've joked before that if a psychic had made the same claims then it would probably have been included in the report as a 'missed opportunity.'

Another candiate for 'But most of all...' might be the fact that the FBI, at the behest of the State Department and the Pentagon, refused to investigate certain issues that involved their friends 'certain diplomatic and business relationships.'

As Sibel says:
Even after 911, we had a lot of intelligence coming regarding some of the terrorist activities, or support network of these terrorist activities, that did not come through the counterterrorism (CT) investigations but through counter intelligence (CI). And I was told, by the agents that I was working for, that the State Dept would come and ask them not to pursue, or transfer, this CI information, relevant to our fight against terrorists, to CT because it would affect certain diplomatic relations. As you said, we had 3000 people lose their lives, here they are putting under various color-coded threat system, and they're compromising our civil liberties with the PATRIOT Act, YET there are certain sensitive diplomatic relations that are worth protecting, that are worth more than our national security and what occured here!

In other words, we can't investigate the actual people behind the people behind 911 because we are making too much money off those relationships. We have to strip you of your civil liberties to protect you from terrorism, but we'll ignore 80% of the causes of terrorism because our wallets, and campaign contributions, depend on it.

Another candiate for 'But most of all...' is the issue of state involvement - by our 'quasi-allies' - in 911. Sibel gave a partial illustration in her fabulous "THE HIGHJACKING OF A NATION" series (more importantly, see Part 2)

I have another important '911' post up my sleeve - but I'll wait a week or two till we approach the anniversary.

In the meantime, here's another of my cheesy videos

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

x-posted at Let Sibel Edmonds Speak

(let me know if you want to be added to my email list for new Sibel-related post. Subject: 'Sibel email list.')

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Who are the FBI 'Juice men' in Sibel Edmonds case?

In a new-to-me 2004 interview, Super-Interviewer Scott Horton spoke to two FBI whistleblowers, former translator Sibel Edmonds and Frederic Whitehurst from the FBI crime lab in Washington, D.C.

Whitehurst observes that, due to the lack of any external audits in the FBI:
"The safest place in the USA right now for a criminal is within the walls of FBI headquarters. The safest place!"

Whitehurst also makes a related point:
The Bureau has an expression: 'Who is your juice-man back at HQ?' Who is the guy that is supporting you?

So who are the 'Juice Men' protecting the criminals within the FBI in Sibel Edmonds' case?

Those two quotes from Whitehurst juxtapose nicely against two other issues that I want to mention. We'll get to those in a minute.

First, some background.

Sibel's case involves a whole bunch of criminality from the nuclear black market, illegal weapons trafficking, heroin-trafficking, 911-related cover-ups and the bribery of congresscritters. For various reasons, these issues are rarely discussed, but one part of her story that everybody, including the corporate media, can agree on is that there were serious problems within the FBI translation unit - so let's focus on that for present purposes.

Sibel's boss was a guy named Mike Feghali. He was head of the Turkish and Farsi desks when Sibel was at the FBI, having been promoted from a contract linguist. Feghali's promotion to this position was itself suspicious - he was being investigated by the FBI for various corruption when he was a 'mere' translator and was repeatedly rejected for promotion. He hired an expensive 'white-shoe' lawyer (who paid for that?), claimed racial discrimination and was promoted to head the Turkish and Farsi desks.

In October 2001, the FBI hired a Turkish translator by the name of Melek Can Dickerson. Dickerson had worked for at least three organizations - all of them targets of FBI counter-intelligence operations (most famously the American Turkish Council (ATC)), and was close friends with targets from other counter-intelligence operations - none of this was picked up by any background checks. Within weeks of Dickerson joining the FBI, she:
1. Tried to recruit Sibel (and other translators) to engage in espionage
2. 'Apparently' started having an affair with Feghali
3. Re-arranged the 'work flow' (with Feghali's help and approval) at the FBI so that she, and only she, was translating all of the wiretaps of her friends, and the ATC
4. Intentionally mistranslated wiretaps, stole documents, etc

At the same time, Feghali was engaged in all manner of shenanigans with Sibel - from the very serious (refusing to send her extremely important 911 related output to FBI agents who were desperate for it) to the more 'administrative' (deleting her work product, telling her not to do any work etc)

Sibel reported all of this to FBI management and it was all confirmed in short order. Despite this, Melek Can Dickerson was allowed to stay on the job, translating (and probably still stealing, and probably still mistranslating) for another 6 months with Top Security Clearance after Sibel's claims were all confirmed. Even worse, Feghali was also able to stay on the job for another 6 months till he was fired has since been promoted and is now, today, head of the entire Arabic desk - with 300 translators under his command.

I've previously documented all this in "Sibel Edmonds' Corrupt Boss is STILL the key to National Security"

So my questions are this:
Who are Mike Feghali's 'Juice men' back at HQ?' Who are the guys that are supporting him?

and this:
Who were Melek Can Dickerson's 'Juice men' back at HQ?' Who are the guys that are supporting her?

In my recent "FBI, Congress: Sibel Edmonds case 'unclassified'" post, Kossak avahome commented
Who was the FBI agent in charge (of Sibel's case)? Sometimes if you dig backwards a little bit the big picture comes to light? (For instance US Attorney Carol Lam and FBI Agent Dan Dzwilewski who also involved in Guam, O'Neill dying on 9/11, and the latest case being dropped involving John W.(Bill) Crews..FBI Dave Hulser) It just boggles the mind what goes on in the FBI and what they know.

The answer is: Dale Watson, James Comey, John Ashcroft, Tim Caruso, and Robert Mueller.

Are these guys the Juice Men for the criminals in the translation department?

Ashcroft and Mueller you all know.

Dale Watson, "former Assistant Director for the Counterterrorism Division of the FBI, as such he headed the FBI investigation into the September 11, 2001 attacks and the 2001 anthrax attacks. " He left the FBI in 2002 to join the spooked-up Booz Allen.

James Comey joined Lockheed Martin.

Tim Caruso: "In June 2001, Mr. Caruso was designated Deputy Assistant Director of the Counterterrorisim Division at FBI Headquarters." In January 02, Caruso was promoted to Deputy Executive Assistant Director for Counterintelligence and Counterterrorism.

All of this might seem a little tin-foil-hattish, which brings me to the other issue that I wanted to mention. In late July, FBI Director Robert Mueller appeared before the House Judiciary Committee - and Betty Sutton (D-OH) (Nope, I'd never heard of her either) asked him about whistleblowers - specifically Sibel Edmonds, Colleen Rowley and John Roberts.

This will surprise you, but I actually want to focus on the John Roberts issue, rather than Sibel (specifically).

You see, John Roberts was the head of FBI's Internal Affairs Department. He was interviewed (he was given permission by the FBI) in the 60 Minutes segment on Sibel's case in October 2002 and was subsequently slammed by the FBI.

Here is the video of Roberts appearance (at least until CBS removes it. I've posted this before and it was removed)

ED BRADLEY: (Voiceover) Special agent John Roberts, a chief of the FBI's Internal Affairs Department, agrees. And while he is not permitted to discuss the Sibel Edmonds case, for the last 10 years, he has been investigating misconduct by FBI employees and says he is outraged by how little is ever done about it.

Mr. JOHN ROBERTS: I don't know of another person in the FBI who has done the internal investigations that I have and has seen what I have and that knows what has occurred and what has been glossed over and what has, frankly, just disappeared, just vaporized, and no one disciplined for it.

BRADLEY: (Voiceover) Despite a pledge from FBI director Robert Mueller to overhaul the culture of the FBI in light of 9/11, and encourage bureau employees to come forward to report wrongdoing, Roberts says that in the rare instances when employees are disciplined, it's usually low-level employees like Sibel Edmonds who get punished and not their bosses.

Mr. ROBERTS: I think the double standard of discipline will continue no matter who comes in, no matter who tries to change. You--you have a certain--certain group that--that will continue to protect itself. That's just how it is.

BRADLEY: No matter what happens?

Mr. ROBERTS: I would say no matter what happens.

BRADLEY: Have you found cases since 9/11 where people were involved in misconduct and were not, let alone reprimanded, but were even promoted?

Mr. ROBERTS: Oh, yes. Absolutely.

BRADLEY: That's astonishing.


BRADLEY: Because you--you would think that after 9/11, that's a big slap on the face. 'Hello! This is a wake-up call here.'

Mr. ROBERTS: Depends on who you are. If you're in the senior executive level, it may not hurt you. You will be promoted.

BRADLEY: In fact, the supervisor who Sibel Edmonds says told her to slow down her translations was recently promoted. Edmonds has filed a whistle-blower suit to get her job back, but last week, US Attorney General Ashcroft asked the court to dismiss it on grounds it would compromise national security. And also on the grounds of national security, the FBI declined to discuss the specifics of her charges, but it says it takes all such charges seriously and investigates them.

These are astonishing statements by John Roberts (at least, it's astonishing that someone at the FBI made them) - and it isn't surprising that the FBI came down on him like a ton of bricks. Apparently the Juice Men don't like to be called on their games. Let's not forget, he was the head of Internal Affairs - so he has some serious credibility. As he says: "I don't know of another person in the FBI who has done the internal investigations that I have and has seen what I have and that knows what has occurred..."

Roberts was attacked ferociously by FBI HQ - to the extent that his wife, who also worked at the FBI, literally collapsed in public.

Back to Betty Sutton and her questions to Mueller

Transcript (mine):
John Conyers: The Chair is pleased to welcome Miss Betty Sutton of Ohio.

Betty Sutton : ... At this moment I'd just like to talk to you a little bit about something we haven't discussed, the Whistleblower protections. We've had some problems in the Bureau and actually they reflect upon some of the facets and consequences that Mr Delahunt, the distinguished gentleman, points out, and it emphasizes the importance that we have proper Whistleblower protection, not just because governmental employees need to have that safeguard, but it's also a matter of ensuring that our national security, and the integrity of the Agency is intact. I know that you've given personal assurances in the past that you were going to take action to ensure that Whistleblowers would be proteceted, but we know that there's been a culture within the FBI through some years, where that just hasn't been the case.

So I'd like for a moment to go through a couple of those instances, and then you can share with me how things have changed so that their plight would have changed, and the outcomes would be different.

In 2001, Coleen Rowley claims that she was blocked at every turn from pursuing her concerns about 911 co-conspirator, Zacarias Moussaoui. In a statement you issued in response to that case you stated that there's no room for the types of problems and attitudes that could inhibit our efforts.

In 2002, you're familiar with John Roberts' case. He blew the whistle on several senior FBI officials, all of whom were subsequently promoted and some of whom received bonuses, and of course, the Inspector General subsequently issued a report endorsing John Roberts' findings of wrongdoing within the agency, and concluded that the FBI suffered, and still suffers, from the strong perception that a double-standard exists within the FBI with regard to the treatment of senior officials versus lower-level employees. And, of course, he was humiliated, because he came forward with evidence of wrongdoing.

Does it seem a little less tin-foil-hattish now?

The testimony continues:

Betty Sutton: And we're all familiar with Sibel Edmonds, former FBI translator, who did work for the Counter-Terrorism program, who was fired after reporting serious problems in the Bureau's translation services department. And of course, when she sought recourse, she was completely blocked after the Bureau invoked the State Secrets Privilege. So my question to you is: What have you done specifically to make sure that moving forward - not redressing these cases, but moving forward - that these things shall not happen, and the chilling effect that this culture produces, and the consequences beyond that, are no longer being felt?

Robert Mueller: Initially I had an outside panel come in and look at how we were handling OPR, how we were handling our response to incidents of misconduct including those that would be set out by whistleblowers, and we have changed our procedures. At least every year I set out statements that I will not put up with retaliation for persons who bring to our attention that which should be brought to our attention. Whenever that occurs it is immediately referred to the Inspector General so the Inspector General can do an indepenedent investigation, and I have followed the recommendations of the Inspector General as to what steps should be taken when retaliation has been found - retaliation for those who bring to our attention those matters that should be brought to our attention.

Betty Sutton : Well, could you be more specific in the changes that have been implemented?

Robert Mueller: I can get back to you, specifically I think the biggest change is the ability in putting in place the mechanisms to ensure an independent investigation of allegations of retaliation for whistleblower activities, and our willingness to followup immediately with the results of the independent investigation which has been done by the Inspector General.

Betty Sutton : Ok Director, but let's say that fails, and we have a situation like Sibel Edmonds, how does her plight change? How does she deal with the invocation of the State Secrets Privilege? How does she have any recourse?

Robert Mueller: Well, I can't get into the rationale behind asserting the State Secrets Privilege in the particular case. It's a matter that sealed by the court, but in that case as well, the case was investigated independently and actions that were necessary to be taken as a result of the investigation, as to individuals in the FBI, have been taken.

Betty Sutton : But with respect to somebody facing the same situation, they would face the same outcome. Is that correct?

Robert Mueller: It depends on the circumstances of the case.

I'll refrain from snarking about Mueller's responses - but good on Betty Sutton for raising the issue. You can thank her here and ask her what else she will do to help. Will she bring Sibel's case to the floor?

But I come back to Whitehurst's question? Who are the FBI Juice-Men in Sibel's case? Who 'owns' them? If we agree/accept that the translation department has been infiltrated, and there are people at HQ who are protecting those that are compromised at the Translation desk, then how much confidence can we have in those at HQ? As Sibel says
"I took an oath to protect my country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I assumed that the enemy was foreign."

We know that there are at least four congresscritters on just the Turkish payroll. We know that foreign interests would love to penetrate the FBI, particularly the translation unit, and per Whitehurst, it seems that the safest place for criminals and foreign agents is within the walls of the FBI where they are apparently unaccountable. And it appears that there are those in FBI Senior Management who are protecting, and promoting, dodgy folks within the translation department.

We know from Roberts that senior FBI officials were promoted and given bonuses despite being involved in various misconduct. And we know from Sibel that senior management at the FBI covered up various criminality within the FBI and other places in the US Government.

So who are the FBI Juice Men in Sibel's case? And who are their Juice Men elsewhere in the USG?

(let me know if you want to be added to my email list for new Sibel-related post. Subject: 'Sibel email list.')

Monday, August 20, 2007

Sibel Edmonds: Prostitutes, Pimps & Pitchforks

Last week former FBI translator, and head of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, Sibel Edmonds sent a letter to NSWBC members expressing some frustration with the current congress on their failure to follow up on their promises to hold hearings into various whistleblower cases.

Sibel is looking for suggestions about how to get congress to actually, you know, do something.

After years of activism, Sibel has concluded that:
There are only three parties of interests in this government, in this town. The Prostitutes=Congressmen/Senators, the Pimps=the lobbyists, and the Fat Cat Clients= incompetent bureaucrats in charge, MIC, Oil, Contractors, etc.
The letter, and some of my comments are below.


Here is Sibel's letter (with permission):


I know some of you have been wondering about the status of National Security Whistleblowers Coalition and our campaigns, and I have received many e-mails and phone calls with regard to our current position and future activities.

I haven’t done anything further as far as Congress is concerned and here is why:

For several years, until the last November elections, we were told by Democrats in Congress that the only reason our demands for real oversight, accountability, and bringing openness to our government by holding congressional hearings on many whistleblower cases, were not being acted upon, was that the big bad majority, the Republicans, were blocking such attempts/moves. Frankly, I was gullible enough to buy that excuse, thus, like many of you, I held my breath and waited for the results from last November’s elections, and sighed with relief when that ‘big bad’ majority was changed.

After the new congressional session began, in January 2007, we went back to those previously minority offices that had given us many promises and lots of encouragement, and low and behold, we were told that other than some changes in Whistleblower protection laws, they had no plans for holding hearings on our cases, nor did they have any plans to address our most important objective: Accountability.

When we insisted upon holding these cowards to their repeated past promises, they, the new majority, decided to cease all contacts and correspondence with us. Our so-called representatives, such as Waxman (and his committee’s previously supportive staff members) have ceased to even take calls from NSWBC or its members. The fascinating change in Chairman Waxman of the so-called ‘Government Reform Committee’ can only be described as a transformation from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde.

(cheesy lolWaxman Jekyll/Hyde image by me. see here for my recent diary on Waxman finally speaking out on Sibel's case and saying nothing)

More Sibel:
What happened to those hearings promised to us (to our organizations, our members, and other whistleblowers)? Here are a few we requested during our many sessions/meeting prior to the last elections:

1- A series of hearing on TSA whistleblowers and their cases. This agency has been creating more whistleblower than all other agencies combined! We have so many TSA whistleblowers with established, documented, and collaborated backings!

2- A hearing on DEA whistleblowers in Sandy Gonzalez’ case & the House of Death cover up.

3- A series of hearing on FBI whistleblowers.

4- A hearing on my case dealing with government gag orders, retroactive classification and state secrets privilege. The demand for this particular hearing, on my case, was backed by transpartisan organizations in a petition signed by 15000 Americans, and sent to Waxman’s office by each supporting organization.

5- A series of hearings on Air Marshall cases. Their issue has been in the press almost on a daily basis for the past two years. What more does it take to illustrate its importance?!! Jeff Black now has a large group of these courageous whistleblowers, all ready to testify and shed light on the disastrous state of affairs there.

6- A hearing on our partner organization’s case (Veterans Affairs Whistleblowers Coalition VAWBC); a group of VA doctors who have been fighting for the lives and health of our men & women who have placed our country above their own lives. (see here for more on Hillary's performance on VAWBC)

In addition to our own members and partner whistleblower groups, these representatives had promised hearings for other whistleblowers who have been fighting for years, pursuing oversight and accountability. People like Bunny Greenhouse (DOD; contract fraud & Halliburton Case).

More Sibel:
Well, dear members, guess what? We have done all we could re the Congress. You may disagree with me, but I now consider that strategy futile. Who are we going to pursue this time? Who are we going to blame? Obviously it is not about partisanship, and we have been saying this all along.

After dealing with this Congress and living the daily life of a typical Washington DC advocate/activist, here is my conclusion:

There are only three parties of interests in this government, in this town. The Prostitutes=Congressmen/Senators, the Pimps=the lobbyists, and the Fat Cat Clients= incompetent bureaucrats in charge, MIC (Military Industrial Complex), Oil, Contractors, etc. We, the American People, our interests, our security, our tax dollars, our health, our future, have no place in this equation; what-so-ever.

Ahhh. Sibel has such a way with words.

More Sibel:
The mainstream media could have, and can, do so much to change this reality. Unfortunately they are not doing it. So, I turn to you, and ask you, ‘What do you believe we should do?’ I know many of you, like me, are exhausted; beaten up. I am asking you, since the Congress has proven to be no representatives of our country, our people, ‘Where do you want us to turn our attention/focus to?’

I am out of ideas, so please, if you are still interested, let me know what it is, or, who it is, that we should be pursuing for our objectives: Oversight, Accountability, & Justice.

How about you lot? Any ideas?

Let me just pre-empt one frequent suggestion - that Sibel just 'tell all.' Sibel has thought long & hard about this issue and has concluded/decided that if she did that, it would simply be another 'one day story' - without any follow-up or accountability.

It's difficult to argue with her, given how appallingly she has been treated so far by both Congress and the Mainstream Media (and others). Her case was investigated by the Department of Justice Inspector General and her claims were confirmed. The report is still classified. Various congressional offices (Waxman, Leahy, Grassley) have read the classified report and conducted their own investigations, included calling witnesses etc, and again her claims were confirmed, and none denied - and yet, nothing happened. The US media has been appalling too, refusing to discuss all but the most trivial of her claims ('mistranslations').

(For an overview of Sibel's case, see What the heck is Sibel Edmonds' Case about? And why should I care? Or for a really short version, see my post from yesterday with an old speech that Sibel gave at the ACLU.)

We need to find a way to get her case in the public record - whether it is declassifying, or leaking, the Inspector General's report, or public hearings in Congress, or...? Who has any good ideas?

More Sibel:
A while back one of our members, who happens to be my best friend, Steve, offered one viable alternative: ‘Pitch Forks.’ At the time, I rolled my eyes, and dismissed it as a joke. Today, I see it as the only way to literally ‘clean house’ and turn this monster into what it is supposed to be: The government of the people, by the people, for the people.

The Founding Fathers of our country gave us a free nation, gave us a Constitution to guide us, and gave us warnings as what could happen when and if we, the people of the country, let down our guard, become complacent, become lazy, become self-absorbed. Of them, Jefferson was the most prolific writer, so in closing I chose a few quotes from him – to help underscore what we face today:

* "The greatest [calamity] which could befall [us would be] submission to a government of unlimited powers." --Thomas Jefferson

* "If once [the people] become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, Judges and Governors, shall all become wolves. It seems to be the law of our general nature, in spite of individual exceptions." --Thomas Jefferson

* "Who will govern the governors?" There is only one force in the nation that can be depended upon to keep the government pure and the governors honest, and that is the people themselves. They alone, if well informed, are capable of preventing the corruption of power, and of restoring the nation to its rightful course if it should go astray. They alone are the safest depository of the ultimate powers of government. --Thomas Jefferson on Politics and Government

So, yes, maybe “Pitch Forks” isn’t such a bad idea after all.

Here is Waxman’s recent comment re: ‘I don’t recall ever promising whistleblowers like Edmonds any hearings…’

I am looking forward to hearing your suggestions and responses.

So what have you got?

Let Sibel Edmonds Speak

(let me know if you want to be added to my email list for new Sibel-related post. Subject: 'Sibel email list.')

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sibel Edmonds ACLU speech

Former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds gave a great speech to the ACLU in January, 2005.

I've put the speech up on YouTube for the first time in case you haven't seen it. Text and video are below, with some additional background comments from me.

Prepared text (with a couple of edits based on the delivered speech) of Sibel Edmonds' speech (italics in the original, bold emphasis mine):

A few days ago, during an interview, I was asked to provide comments regarding the inspector general's (IG) report into my allegations, and I was asked whether or not I agreed with the report's conclusion that the FBI did not take my reports and allegations seriously, although they were supported by facts, evidence, and other witnesses. From one perspective, my answer was: yes, despite all the facts, evidence, and other witnesses, the Bureau chose not to investigate the espionage case and other criminal acts committed against the United States, its people, and its national security; instead they chose to cover it up.

When Sibel says that her allegations are supported by facts and documents, she's (usually) talking about specific documents and wiretaps that she translated. These translations and the source material are directly verifiable (and have been already verified by the Inspector General and others.) Her reference to 'other witnesses' includes the FBI agents and analysts who worked on the same case(s). Some of these other witnesses independently reported the same issues that Sibel reported, and some of these 'other witnesses' confirmed Sibel's allegations, both to the Inspector General, and also to Senators Leahy and Grassley when they held hearings into her case.

Sibel's reference to espionage includes the penetration of the FBI's translation bureau by targets of FBI counter-intelligence operations (primarily the American Turkish Council (ATC)), as well as efforts by criminals associated with the ATC (and, not incidentally, with the Pentagon) to recruit her (and other translators) to act as spies within the FBI.

Further, Sibel is also pointing to espionage at the Pentagon, specifically Doug Feith's office. The indictments against Larry Franklin and the AIPAC folks are only the tip of the iceberg of a much wider investigation.

Sibel's reference to 'other criminal acts' includes, but is not limited to the theft of the USG's nuclear secrets, illegal supply of hardware to the AQ Khan network, drug-smuggling, money laundering, and the bribery of a number of US Congressfolk.

When Sibel refers to certain 'cover ups' she is mostly referring to the fact that FBI Ccounter-Intelligence Branch (which is essentially a monitoring organization) refuses to (and/or is prevented from) transfer cases to other parts of the FBI that have the power to actually bring cases (arrest, indict etc). For example, the evidence of drug smuggling should be forwarded to the Narcotics branch, but it isn't. It stays within the Counter-Intelligence branch. Similary, the evidence regarding 911 should be transferred to Counter-Terrorism, but it wasn't, even after 911. The evidence of bribing congressfolk should be transferred to the Criminal Division, but again, it all stays within Counter-Intelligence where it isn't 'operational.'

And of course, the 'cover-up' goes further than that issue with Counter-Intelligence because the Department of Justice's own Inspector General investigated and verified these claims, and still nothing was done. Similarly, Waxman, Leahy and Grassley have all seen the classified version of the Inspector General's report (and conducted their own investigations) and they too refuse to do anything.

More Sibel:
On the other hand, from another perspective, my answer was: no, they took my case and their objective, which was to cover up these issues and criminal acts, extremely seriously. After all, for the past three years they have been relentlessly and in an unprecedented manner engaged in actions geared toward covering up my reports and investigations into my allegations. Lets talk about these unconstitutional and un-American actions, shall we? Gagging the United States Congress, blocking court proceedings in my case by invoking the so-called state-secret privilege, quashing a subpoena for my deposition on information regarding 9/11, withholding documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act, and preventing the release of the entire report issued by the Department of Justice inspector general's office. They engaged in these relentless efforts to cover up, despite the fact that the allegations in my reports, many of which have been confirmed by the unclassified IG report, the United States Senate, and leaked memos by the Department of Justice, involve criminal conduct against our national interests, serious security breaches and espionage activities threatening our intelligence, intentional mistranslation of intelligence, and intentional blocking of certain terrorism and criminal cases related to 9/11 from being investigated.

More Sibel:
This is not just about one case or one whistleblower. This is not just about our government's relentless fight against me and my information. This fight is also directed against what is known as "the public's right to know" in our essential oversight responsibility over our government as citizens. As Harry Truman stated:
"When even one American – who has done nothing wrong – is forced by fear to shut his mind and close his mouth, then all Americans are in peril."
This is a fight against our democracy, which cannot exist without transparency and accountability. Standing up to despotism and tyranny has always been considered illegal by those in power, and dangerous to those who would expose them. But this shouldn't be the case here, not in the United States of America. This shouldn't be the case when it comes to a truly democratic government, the kind of government we have proudly defined as, and believed to be, a government of the people, by the people, for the people. Please ask yourself: What happened to this notion of government of the people, by the people, for the people, and the principles upon which our democracy and governance are supposed to be built?

More Sibel:
I also want to emphasize that these actions by our government are not geared toward protecting the national security of the United States. On the contrary, they endanger our national security by covering up facts and information related to criminal activities against this country and its citizens. Our government is fully aware that making this information public will bring about the question of accountability. And they do not want to be held accountable. It is for these reasons that I have been striving to get the Congress to investigate and hold its own public hearings regarding these issues. In a letter written July 9, 2004 to the Attorney General, Senator Grassley and Senator Leahy stated:
"We fear that the designation of information as classified in some of these cases serves to protect the executive branch against embarrassing revelations and full accountability."

And this is after these two senators read the entire IG report.

Well, as you can see in my case, and those of many others, from firing whistleblowers to retroactively classifying public information to using special privileges to cover up criminal acts and severe negligence, the government is taking extreme steps to shield itself from accountability while gambling with our security and interests.

Again, we are talking about criminal activity, by individuals, for personal gain. The invocation of States Secrets Privilege and National Security is completely bogus. There aren't any States Secrets involved - and as Sibel points out, the fact that people in the Pentagon, the State Department, the FBI and Congress are wheeling-and-dealing with other criminals actually endangers the security of Americans (and the Constitution) The reason that they are so desperate to avoid accountability is not because they have been breaking the law in the furtherance of protecting Americans, which they can at least argue in the case of the NSA illegal spying. In this case, it's all personal.

More Sibel:
Let us remind ourselves: our government does not consist of one branch, but three; this system was established to ensure checks and balances. Our Congress must fulfill the "checks and balances" responsibilities of the Constitution in the exercise of its fundamental duties. We the people have put these representatives in the Congress. We the people have given them the authority to ensure oversight, integrity, transparency, and accountability of our government and our rights. Thus, we the people have the right and the power to demand that our representatives fulfill these obligations. Today, we are doing just that. We are demanding action. We are demanding true representation. We are doing so collectively, loud and clear.

More Sibel:
Our democracy cannot endure without a committed citizenry and an open government that answers to the people. Our democracy has survived because of the participation of its citizenry, which completely depends on the government's transparency and accountability. Today, in this room, many of us represent living cases and examples of the lack of transparency, accountability, and due process in our government; thus, we are reminders of endangered and diminishing democracy. We are here to ring the wake-up bell and beg you not to look the other way. We cannot go on pretending to have democracy. We cannot go on teaching the notions and principles of true American democracy to our youngsters in their Civics 101 books, when those notions and principles are no longer exercised. Currently, freedom of speech, due process, sunshine laws, the Freedom of Information Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act, and many other protections of our freedom that are written into our legislation and printed in our textbooks are only that, printed words. Printed words. It is long overdue that we stop pretending, that we cease denial. It is time to decide whether or not our American democracy is worth fighting for.

More Sibel:
For three years, I have been pursuing all channels, through the three branches of our government. I am continuing to pursue my court cases, seeking the due process granted to me under our Constitution, despite all attempts by our executive branch to block them via extreme measures, such as the so called State Secrets Act. I am continuing to appeal these issues and cases to our Congress, our representatives with oversight authority, despite their resistance to having to pursue and investigate these cases that jeopardize our security and interests. I am continuing to demand real action and formal investigation of these confirmed cases by the Department of Justice, the investigative and prosecutorial body established to protect our nation's security and interests, despite its attempt to block and cover up these cases, to prevent them from being investigated and addressed. I may be just a citizen, but being one gives me the responsibility and the right to do so. I am not going away. I shall not stop. Looking around in this room, I know that I am no longer alone. We have come together as citizens, determined to fulfill our obligations as citizens.

Sibel has been giving essentially the same speech for years now. And we get nothing from Congress, nothing from the Courts, nothing from the Executive Branch, and nothing from the media.

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

Friday, August 17, 2007

Sibel Edmonds, NSA Spying, State Secrets and Kafka

There's been a lot of outrage these last couple of days about the absurd court hearings in the NSA spying cases where the US government basically said to the court 'Yeah, we could tell you, but we'd have to kill you.'

None of this comes as a surprise to me because I've been following the case of former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds for a number of years.

As I've been saying, Sibel has been the canary in this coal mine since 2002.

In many ways, Sibel's situation regarding State Secrets is much worse than what we've seen this week. For starters, her passport, drivers license and birth certificate all contain Top Secret information.

Let's first review the court cases pertaining to illegal spying this week.

Super Blogger Scott Horton gives a representative overview

Beyond Kafka
In Franz Kafka’s novel "The Trial", Josef (Kafka) awakens one morning to discover that he has been charged with a crime. He never really ascertains what the crime is—apparently it’s secret, or what the court is before which he is to be brought, which apparently is also secret. And he’s not sure if he really has a lawyer, either, though people appear from time to time claiming to be that. At the core of the novel is the parable “Before the Law,” in which we learn that the law, itself, is a secret, so he may never know what it is. Now this could be the fantasy world of Franz Kafka. Or it could be the legal world which George W. Bush and Alberto Gonzales are very busy crafting in America this very day.

Consider this report of a trial proceeding in Kafkaesque absurdity, which is to say, in accordance with Bush Administration secrecy notions, in San Francisco. Coverage courtesy of Wired magazine:

2:20pm PDT

Judge Harry Pregerson suggests the government is asking the courts to “rubber stamp” the government’s claim that state secrets are at risk “Who decides whether something is a state secret or not? ... We have to take the word of the members of the executive branch that something is a state secret?”

[U.S. Attorney] Garre counters that the courts should give “utmost deference” to the Bush Administration.

Judge Pregerson: “What does utmost deference mean? Bow to it?”

2:30pm PDT

All three judges are giving Garre skeptical questions about the power of the state secrets privilege. They’re also getting stonewalled a bit.

“Was a warrant obtained in this case?” Judge Pregerson asks.

“That gets into matters that were protected by state secrets,” Garre replies.

2:45pm PDT

Judge McKeown asks whether the government stands by President Bush’s statements that purely-domestic communications, where both parties are in the United States, are not being monitored without warrants.

“Does the government stand behind that statement,” McKeown asks.

Garre: “Yes, your honor.”

But Garre says the government would not be willing to sign a sworn affidavit to that effect for the court record.

Pregerson, by his record, is the most liberal judge on the panel, and he clearly thinks the government is just looking for a blank check for their secret program. But the other two judges aren’t thrilled either. They seem perplexed that the government attorney can’t swear under oath that the Bush Administration isn’t warrantlessly spying on domestic phone calls.

Note the core: whether the Government is breaking the law is a “state secret.” This will, I believe, be used by historians as a hallmark for the entire Gonzales Justice Department: the use of the state secrets doctrine to cloak criminal conduct. The question now is whether we still have judges with a spinal column.

More from Wired:
Expanding on that theme, the government argues that the Al-Haramain case needs to be thrown out because the secret document that the government accidentally gave the foundation is so secret that it is outside of the case.

Bondy claims the plaintiff's memories of the document can't be allowed into the case because the only way to test them is against the "totally classified" document.

"Once the document is out of the case, which it has to be since it is privileged, the only way to test the veracity of their recollections is to compare it to the document," Bondy says.

The lower court allowed the case to go forward based on the Al-Haramain Foundation lawyers' memories of the document, but ruled that the document itself was not allowed into the case.

Judge Hawkins wonders if the document is really that secret?

"Every ampersand, every comma is Top Secret?," Hawkins asks.

"This document is totally non-redactable and non-segregable and cannot even be meaningfully described," Bondy answers.

The government says the purported log of calls between one of the Islamic charity directors and two American lawyers is classified Top Secret and has the SCI level, meaning that it is "secure compartmented information." That designation usually applies to surveillance information.

4:25pm PDT

Judge McKeown: "I feel like I'm in Alice in Wonderland."

Eisenberg: "I feel like I'm in Alice in Wonderland, too."

Now, let me highlight some differences between this particular case (I'll call it 'NSA' for simplicity) and Sibel's case (in no particular order):
1. If I'm not mistaken, Sibel's case was the first invocation of State Secrets Privilege (SSP) by the Bush administration. We are now approaching 30 invocations.

2. The NSA case arguably does involve State Secrets. The NSA case is ostensibly trying to protect sources and methods which ostensibly pertain to national security (even though the activity might be criminal). In Sibel's case, the SSP was invoked purely to hide self-serving criminal activity by "high-level officials." Further, the NSA case has essentially been a secret since it began. In Sibel's case, the details weren't even considered classified until the Attorney General invoked the SSP and retroactively classified the information.

3. In the NSA case, the plaintiffs (and reporters, and bloggers) were actually in the court to hear the government lawyers spout their nonsense. In Sibel's case, the public and the press were kicked out of court before her (ACLU) lawyers could present her case. Even worse, after Sibel and her lawyers presented their case, they were kicked out of court so that the government could argue its case in private.

4. In the NSA case, the judges are skeptical, to the point of hinting that they might give an adverse ruling. In Sibel's case, the judge ruled in favour of the government, stating 'I know this is draconian, but who am I to argue with the government on matters related to national security?'

5. In Sibel's case, the State Secrets Privilege specifically classified much of her personal history:
a) her date of birth
b) her place of birth
c) the languages she speaks
d) the universities she attended
e) the university degrees she attained
f) the fact that she worked as a translator at the FBI
g) the fact that she was fired from the FBI

6. (etc)

Sibel's drivers license, her birth certificate and her passport are all therefore classified Top Secret.

So, yep, let's focus on the outrages of the NSA case and the abuse of the State Secrets Privilege, but let's also remember that Sibel's case is Ground Zero for abuse of State Secrets Privilege. If we didn't let them get away with it in her case, they probably wouldn't dare attempt the stunts we saw yesterday.

Check out the folly of her situation in this YouTube

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

(let me know if you want to be added to my email list for new Sibel-related post. Subject: 'Sibel email list.')

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sibel Edmonds' case and the heroin connection

Everyone is talking about "How a ‘Good War’ in Afghanistan Went Bad" in yesterday's NYT - but what stands out for me is that in a 7-page article on Afghanistan, there's not one mention of heroin, opium, or even poppies.

As a companion piece to the NYT article about losing the 'good war,' I strongly suggest that you read this recent article by former UK Ambassador to Uzebekistan, Craig Murray from late last month. Murray explains that Afghanistan is run by drug lords.

Former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds often points to the fact that whenever the media does mention the heroin industry, they almost never go beyond reporting about the poor farmers in the Afghan poppy fields. Sibel asks the leading question: "Who are the real lords of Afghanistan’s poppy fields?"

Before I proceed, let's start with a little background into Sibel's case. When Sibel worked as a translator for the FBI, one of the main cases she was working on was a counter-intelligence operation against Turkey's equivalent of AIPAC, the American Turkish Council (ATC). On the Turkish side, the ATC is (largely) represented by Turkey's "Deep State – the politicians, military officers and intelligence officials who worked with drug bosses to move drugs from Afghanistan..." (On the American side, the ATC is represented by the 'Defense' contractors, and Turkey's American lobbyists - people like Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, former House Speaker Bob Livingston, former Defense Secretary William Cohen, former Minority Leader Dick Gephardt and others.)

Now, we've all heard the statistics that Afghanistan is the source of 90% of the world's opium etc - but what many people don't know is that most of that opium is imported into Turkey where it is transformed, on an industrial scale, into heroin. It is warehoused on an industrial scale, repackaged and marketed on an industrial scale, and re-exported on an industrial scale.

As Sibel says:
"This multi billion-dollar industry requires highly sophisticated networks and people. So, who are the real lords of Afghanistan’s poppy fields?
These operations are run by mafia groups closely controlled by the MIT (Turkish Intelligence Agency) and the military. According to statistics compiled in 1998, Turkey’s heroin trafficking brought in $25 billion in 1995 and $37.5 billion in 1996. That amount makes up nearly a quarter of Turkey’s GDP. Only criminal networks working in close cooperation with the police and the army could possibly organize trafficking on such a scale. The Turkish government, MIT and the Turkish military, not only sanctions, but also actively participates in and oversees the narcotics activities and networks.

In other words, the folks who supply much of the world's heroin break bread (and share lots of dough) with their American counterparts at places like the American Turkish Council.

Sibel says that there are at least four people in Congress that she knows of who are being bribed by the Turkish gang, and according to Ed Bradley on 60 Minutes, they also have "spies... inside the US State Department and at the Pentagon."

In Craig Murray's article, he notes all of the impressive statistics regarding Afghanistan's opium production - 2006 beat the previous record by 60%, and this year promises to be stronger still - and then he makes two important points. Firstly, he says that all of the 'value-add' activity that was previously performed in Turkey (turning poppies into heroin) is now conducted within Afghanistan. We don't know whether this is a massive shift in the underlying structure of the industry, or whether the incumbent gangs that Sibel refers to have simply decided to 'off-shore' their production from Turkey to Afghanistan. I suspect that it is the latter, simply because we haven't seen the type of blood-bath that we would expect to see if there was a serious turf-war taking place.

From Murray's piece:
" According to the United Nations, 2006 was the biggest opium harvest in history, smashing the previous record by 60 per cent. This year will be even bigger.

Our economic achievement in Afghanistan goes well beyond the simple production of raw opium. In fact Afghanistan no longer exports much raw opium at all. It has succeeded in what our international aid efforts urge every developing country to do. Afghanistan has gone into manufacturing and 'value-added' operations.

It now exports not opium, but heroin. Opium is converted into heroin on an industrial scale, not in kitchens but in factories. Millions of gallons of the chemicals needed for this process are shipped into Afghanistan by tanker. The tankers and bulk opium lorries on the way to the factories share the roads, improved by American aid, with Nato troops.

(FTR, I have seen no evidence for Murray's claim that Afghanistan is now primarily exporting heroin rather than opium)

The second point that Murray makes is that this activity takes place with the the active participation of the authorities, just as Sibel said was the case in Turkey.

How can this have happened, and on this scale? The answer is simple. The four largest players in the heroin business are all senior members of the Afghan government – the government that our soldiers are fighting and dying to protect.

When we attacked Afghanistan, America bombed from the air while the CIA paid, armed and equipped the dispirited warlord drug barons – especially those grouped in the Northern Alliance – to do the ground occupation. We bombed the Taliban and their allies into submission, while the warlords moved in to claim the spoils. Then we made them ministers.

President Karzai is a good man. He has never had an opponent killed, which may not sound like much but is highly unusual in this region and possibly unique in an Afghan leader. But nobody really believes he is running the country. He asked America to stop its recent bombing campaign in the south because it was leading to an increase in support for the Taliban. The United States simply ignored him. Above all, he has no control at all over the warlords among his ministers and governors, each of whom runs his own kingdom and whose primary concern is self-enrichment through heroin.

More Murray:
He became concerned at the vast amounts of heroin coming from Afghanistan, in particular from the fiefdom of the (now) Head of the Afghan armed forces, General Abdul Rashid Dostum, in north and east Afghanistan.

Dostum is an Uzbek, and the heroin passes over the Friendship Bridge from Afghanistan to Uzbekistan, where it is taken over by President Islam Karimov's people...

The heroin Jeeps run from General Dostum to President Karimov. The UK, United States and Germany have all invested large sums in donating the most sophisticated detection and screening equipment to the Uzbek customs centre at Termez to stop the heroin coming through.

But the convoys of Jeeps running between Dostum and Karimov are simply waved around the side of the facility.

More Murray:
"In Afghanistan, General Dostum (Head of the Afghan armed forces)is vital to Karzai's coalition, and to the West's pretence of a stable, democratic government.

Opium is produced all over Afghanistan, but especially in the north and north-east – Dostum's territory. Again, our Government's spin doctors have tried hard to obscure this fact and make out that the bulk of the heroin is produced in the tiny areas of the south under Taliban control. But these are the most desolate, infertile rocky areas. It is a physical impossibility to produce the bulk of the vast opium harvest there.

That General Dostum is head of the Afghan armed forces and Deputy Minister of Defence is in itself a symbol of the bankruptcy of our policy. "

None of this information was included in the NYT's 7 page article on how we 'lost' Afghanistan.

In fact, in a fantastic recent interview, Sibel wonders aloud whether the media silence is intentional:
"Who prevents the media, or is it happening, from publishing the real facts? The Turks, their involvement, UAE and their position in laundering this money, Pakistan and narcotics. It's saying "Oops! They are our 'allies' and we don't want to touch them. We don't want to turn them off." In fact, we have a lot of business, "sensitive diplomatic relations", as John Ashcroft put it."

As if to prove Sibel's point, just last week, ABC's blog The Blotter reported:
Heroin Found in Car Allegedly Owned by Top Afghan Border Official

A manhunt is on in Afghanistan for the man President Hamid Karzai wanted to name head of his country's border police, ABC News has learned, following the discovery that the official owned a car filled with heroin intercepted by members of the Kabul City Criminal Investigations Division.

U.S. authorities confirmed the seizure of 130 kilograms of heroin in June in a car that allegedly belonged to Haji Zahir Qadir, the former chief of the border police for northern Takhar province.

Haji Zahir was not in the car when it was intercepted. His cousin and "right hand," Bilal, was present and arrested.

Afghan officials say Karzai wanted to name Haji Zahir to head the border police, but a U.S. military intelligence assessment obtained by ABC News in 2006 named Zahir as a drug smuggler.

News of the seizure and the manhunt came at a most embarrassing time for Karzai, who was at Camp David with President George Bush to meet on regional issues, including the upsurge in violence in Afghanistan and cross-border issues with Pakistan.

The information fed to The Blotter was apparently designed to cause some embarrassment (coming 6 weeks after the event), but it wasn't very embrassing at all. As best as I could tell, ABC's blog entry was the only mention of this story at all, anywhere (1,2,3).

For more on my coverage of the heroin angle of Sibel's case, see Sibel Edmonds: America's Watergate, Sibel Edmonds & the Neocons' Turkish Gravy-Train, and Daniel Ellsberg: Hastert got suitcases of Al Qaeda heroin cash, should be in jail.

I'll give Craig Murray the final word:
"Remember this article next time you hear a politician calling for more troops to go into Afghanistan. And when you hear of another brave British life wasted there, remember you can add to the casualty figures all the young lives ruined, made miserable or ended by heroin in the UK.

They, too, are casualties of our Afghan policy."

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

(let me know if you want to be added to my email list for new Sibel-related post. Subject: 'Sibel email list.')

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Henry Waxman finally speaks out on Sibel Edmonds Case!

For months we have been trying to get Henry Waxman to hold hearings into the case of former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds but we have been met with a stony silence.

Until now!

The Hollywood Liberal snagged an interview with Henry Waxman and asked about Sibel's case.

The full interview is 25 mins long. I've posted the relevant 3-minute audio snippet here.


Hollywood Liberal: From what I understand Ms. Edmonds was a translator and an FBI whistleblower and uncovered a case that involved The American Turkish Council who is Turkey’s main lobbying group in the US. Turkey receives Billions of dollars in aid from the US. The case involves vast corruption at the State Department including drug running, trading state secrets, arms trading, and the trading of Nuclear information and implicates, according to Ms. Edmonds, Neocons like Douglas Feith, Richard Perle, and Dennis Hastert, The ATC, AIPAC, and Democratic and Republican congressmen. From what I understand you promised to hold hearings into this matter, those hearings have not happened. Will they? And if not why not?

Henry Waxman: Wow! (laughs) That's one hell of a conspiracy theory you've got there. Can you please slow down a bit and repeat that? (laughs) I think, if I heard you correctly, you just said that Perle, Feith, Hastert and AIPAC are involved in, what did you say? Drug running, arms trading and the nuclear black market market (laughs)? Well, if you and/or Sibel have any evidence of this I'd sure like to hear about it!!! That certainly sounds like a job for the Government Reform and Oversight Committee! If you can provide me with any witnesses or documents or anything, we'll have the hearings as soon as possible! If what you say is true, then these people should be held accountable! This sounds like treason!

Actually, that exchange didn't really happen. I fabricated Waxman's entire response. The fictional response would have been appropriate though, don't you think? But that's not how he responded.

Here is the actual exchange:
Hollywood Liberal: From what I understand Ms. Edmonds was a translator and an FBI whistleblower and uncovered a case that involved The American Turkish Council who is Turkey’s main lobbying group in the US. Turkey receives Billions of dollars in aid from the US. The case involves vast corruption at the State Department including drug running, trading state secrets, arms trading, and the trading of Nuclear information and implicates, according to Ms. Edmonds, Neocons like Douglas Feith, Richard Perle, and Dennis Hastert, The ATC, AIPAC, and Democratic and Republican congressmen. From what I understand you promised to hold hearings into this matter, those hearings have not happened. Will they? And if not why not?

Henry Waxman: I don’t recall that I ever said that I was going to hold hearings on her specific case.... But I really don’t particularly have a comment on her case.

Hollywood Liberal: Would you consider holding hearings on what she has to say based on the fact that she was with the State Department, or the FBI, pretty high up, pretty credible witness.

Henry Waxman: I know my staff has been in touch with her case, and maybe with her, and her supporters. I don’t want to say at this point that we are going to hold a hearing on her specific issue. There are lots and lots of matters to pursue for matters of investigation of oversight. And we are working as hard as we can. We’ll look at in the context of all the other issues we want to pursue.

For the record, as an aside, immediately prior to Waxman saying 'I don't recall,' this exchange took place:
"Hollywood Liberal: And there seems to be a lot of this “I don’t recall” going on with members of the Bush Administration isn’t there?

Henry Waxman: Absolutely Alberto Gonzalez is the best example of a man who uses that exact excuse over and over again."


I've put together a youtube video with some of Sibel's substantive comments, with Waxman's weasely statements juxtaposed against Alberto Gonzales' recent 'I don't recall' testimony. Is it a cheap shot? Maybe. Maybe not. I'm furious, disgusted, and don't care at this point.

But consider my fictitious, hypothetical response that Waxman could have delivered, and compare it with his actual response. That dog didn't bark.

Here are Sibel's extended comments that I used in the video:
Some respected, great Representatives, Democratic Congressmen, have expressed interest in my case. The leader of that group was Congressman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), and I briefed his staff several times, by giving them the same details I gave five years ago to the Judiciary Committee. They obtained the classified version of the Inspector General’s report two years ago and they were outraged. I have several letters from Congressman Waxman saying he finds these actions against me and these gag orders stunning and that he would hold hearings into my case if it wasn't for the Republicans preventing a hearing from taking place on my case.

Well, in January, after we went through the change [in Congress], Congressman Waxman is now Chairman Waxman and there is no power within Congress that can prevent him from holding this hearing. He has the jurisdiction, the authority to put the hearing there, and I have already obtained the consent and names of conscientious, good agents. One of them was the head of the Turkish counter-intelligence operations who actually retired two years ago. They’re all willing to come forward and testify on all the issues I have been gagged on. And that gag doesn’t work in Congress during a hearing.

So in January, after the election results, especially since we have such a great Chairman today, 30 organizations have put together this petition addressed to Chairman Waxman saying you have been promising us for the past five years. These are major organizations, and we call them transpartisan, because there are organizations from the right, organizations from the left, organizations that are whistleblower-related such as the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), the Government Accountability Project (GAP), the National Whistleblower Center, human rights organizations, the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), civil liberties-related organizations such as the American Civil Liberties union (ACLU). We have 30 solid organizations that came together and put together this petition, addressed to Chairman Waxman, saying 'You have been promising us for the past five years.'

According to the ACLU, there has been no case of an American citizen who has had so many gag orders issued on her.

We also had 15,000 citizens sign the petition, and we had these 30 organizations, and they delivered it to Chairman Waxman’s office in March 2007, just over a month ago. And based on the office’s own report, tens of thousands of people in the past 3-4 weeks have called to say, well, when are you going to hold a hearing?

But we have received no response and we don’t know why. None of these organizations know why, because Waxman's office has all the facts, they have all the confirmation, they have the IG report, they have the executive branch’s own report saying she’s credible and her allegations have been supported by other witnesses and documents. We are not talking about allegations. We are talking about facts, documented and witnessed facts.

And I still believe that the Americans who care about their rights, their country, can make this happen. Maybe it hasn’t happened because one of the factors that is not present there is the mainstream media. We know the mainstream media has such influence over the Congress, whatever makes the headlines. If issue ABC is in the headlines right now, I Congresswoman, Congressman am going to hold a hearing and get facetime and media time and attention - sometimes for good reasons, I'm not saying for negative reasons, but media has not paid attention.

Maybe Congress is not finding it worthy of their attention despite all these severe consequences because the media isn’t there.

The citizens can change this, the constituents of Chairman Henry Waxman in California, in the LA area, can change that. They can say, you represent us, you represent our interests, and you are the chairman of the Government Reform Committee. Government Reform. Well, this is about bringing reform into Government, this is about reforming the wrongdoings in our government, and the price is being paid by every citizen.

So after not hearing back from Chairman Waxman through this petition and 30 organizations, I’m trying to reach out to those constituents in California, I’m trying to reach out to all citizens in this country and say, forget about me, this is not about Sibel Edmonds. Let’s go to the core issues: What was it that I reported that caused all these gag orders and firings and threats? What was it? What I reported had nothing to do with me. It had to do with the interests of the American public being stomped upon. It had to do with those who have been elected and given authority betraying the citizens. It had to do with those people who are using their positions in the executive branch agencies to obtain lucrative early retirement positions afterwards as representatives of foreign interests, and not afterwards - and this is very important: In order to obtain it afterwards they had to serve those foreign interests while they were working and had those positions. That's how they earn those future positions, that's how it happens. In every single one of them, that’s how it happens. You start serving the interests of outside foreign influences before you obtain your positions afterwards and say bye to your civil service career. And that is, especially in some cases, criminal. That is not something that should be tolerated by this country, and we need to set an example of those people.

We have the facts, we have the documents, we have the witnesses, and it’s time to do it. So stand up and call Chairman Waxman’s office, keep calling until you get an answer on when the hearing will take place. For each citizen it may cost four minutes. But the benefit to this country, and the number of issues that we are going to shed light on, is way worth it. And if it was not, they would not have gone this far to gag it. I have been fighting very hard, but you need to pay attention to the fact they have been fighting very hard, too.

This is unprecedented. If I am the most gagged woman in the history of this country, and if they have gone as far as invoking the States Secrets Privilege, the issue is important enough. So for anyone who may say, well, how do I know this case is credible? I’ll tell you that there is a report, there are statements from bipartisan senators, Senator Grassley, Senator Leahy, Congressman Waxman. And these are all on the record statements establishing the credibility of the case. The credibility has been established. The importance of this case has been established. Our government has taken unprecedented steps to silence and coverup this case. That should tell the American public how important this case is.

Call Chairman Waxman and write to him and do not stop until we have this hearing in place, and we have the agents testifying. I’m going to emphasize two things here: a) that they testify on oath, and b) that the hearings be public. I have had some hearings, and they have been behind closed doors in the Congress. I have briefed them. They already have this information, that's the point I'm trying to make here. They have the information. I have given this information to Chairman Waxman, to Senator Grassley, to Senator Leahy. It’s the American public’s turn to hear about this.

It’s possible that in light of the Chairman’s decision to hold a hearing, the government comes in and says it has to be in closed session and not in public because these are classified issues. But they’re not. If that happens, we won’t get anywhere because then it’s futile. I would not even be willing to testify because I have already done so. Five years ago I gave them testimony behind closed doors. So did other witnesses. It’s time to have open, public hearings and have people under oath. I will testify under oath, and the consequences of lying are severe.

So let’s make this happen, and let’s say that when all channels we rely upon — be it the courts and the Congress and the executive branch and the mainstream media — fail us, we still should move forward and not stop, and reach out to the American public, and make it happen. I hope we can do it, because not being able to do it sends a very bad, awful message to our children and our grandchildren, to say that active citizenry is dead in this country, and that either nothing comes out of it, or people don't care and don't do it.

We take pride in being Americans, and lovers and supporters of freedom - let's show that we can do it despite the fact that we don't have these four channels.

There is Chairman Waxman, an honourable individual, an established case, now we just need the public to say "Let's do it"

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

(let me know if you want to be added to my email list for new Sibel-related post. Subject: 'Sibel email list.')

(see also Phil Giraldi's "Waxman’s Witness Protection Program")

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Sibel Edmonds: Governments lie outrageously behind closed doors

If you have been following my posts these last couple of weeks you will notice some overlap in this youtube video - but today I wanted to focus on the fact that Sibel and her lawyers were literally thrown out of court in the midst of her own court case.

For some background, in the intro/setup, Sibel says:
"I had taken the oath to protect my new country, against all enemies, and this was my chance to serve my country. I assumed the enemy was foreign...

Within a few months, I came across some serious issues. Wrongdoing. Some of those would be considered criminal, within the FBI. Some of those involved security breaches, 911 related cover-ups, and sabotaged intelligence operations. In one case, due to the pressure of the State Dept and Pentagon, the FBI was prevented from criminally investigating certain US officials who were engaged in actions against our national security, having loyalties to other governments."

In this snippet of the video, Sibel also describes how her Date of Birth is classified under States Secrets Privilege, as is her country of birth. The fact that she was fired from the FBI is consider a State Secret. All in the name of protecting us from Teh Terrorists.

In the video, Sibel also describes how her ACLU attorney described in court that Sibel's case has been confirmed by the FBI, and by the Depart of Justice, confirmed by witnesses and documents.

Regarding getting kicked out of court, Sibel says
"We don't know what (the govt) told the judges... As far as we know they could give the most outrageous lies. There was no-one there to challenge them, so they could (lie) and we assume they did!"

Given all that, how much faith do you have in the behind-closed-doors-hearings in the Kontogiannis hearing from yesterday? (For those of you who aren't familiar with the case, see emptywheel, Laura Rozen, Mark Levey, Josh Marshall.)

For some perspective, the SDUT reported:
"It's almost Orwellian double-speak,” said Gregg Leslie, the legal defense director for The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “They say, 'We need secrecy, but the reason we need secrecy is also secret, so we can't tell you.' "

Yeah, it's almost Orwellian double-speak.

The fact that they kicked everyone out of the court isn't the only similarity with Sibel's case - as emptywheel noted:
"Now, the problem here, for District Court Larry Burns is that the government didn't say the contents of those hearings were classified until recently. Which is why we're at the Appeals Court in the first place."

As I noted last week:
"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."

Kossack jennyjem in a comment to a recent diary of mine summed it up well:
"Let me get this straight

The FBI isn't denying the wrong doing, but they aren't doing anything about it. Congress agrees laws were violated, but they can't talk about it. The courts won't hear the case in the name of 'national security,' although it is evident that the cover-up has nothing to do with national security and everything to do with covering-up criminal activity. Am I really understanding this?

Where is justice? Where are the checks and balances for this outlaw administration? Who upholds the law in America? I would laugh if I didn't feel like vomiting.

You can bet your boots Henry's getting a call from me. This is a national disgrace."

That's about right. If you agree, Let Sibel Edmonds Speak
Call Embarrass Waxman. Demand public open hearings:
DC phone: (202) 225-3976
LA phone: 323 651-1040
Capitol switchboard phone: 800-828-0498

(let me know if you want to be added to my email list for new Sibel-related post. Subject: 'Sibel email list.' (If you think you should already be on the list but haven't heard from me, please try again. googlemail ate some of my homework))