ACLU Supports Sibel Edmonds In FBI Case

By Jackie L. Franzil

Washington, DC, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- The ACLU, using whistleblowers as examples, stated its case that Congress needs to get involved in the case of Sibel Edmonds, a former language specialist fired from the FBI after coming forward with serious national-security concerns.

"My case is one of many in which the government has fired those who uncover weaknesses in our ability to prevent terrorist attacks," Edmonds said in a news release issued by the ACLU Wednesday. "If we truly want to protect America, we must first protect America's national security whistleblowers." Edmonds filed a lawsuit within the federal court system, but the case was dismissed upon the recommendations of Attorney General John Ashcroft, who said the case would jeopardize national security. Edmonds is appealing the case.

"After almost three years since my wrongful termination, the government is finally admitting that the FBI acted improperly by firing me, and also affirming that my reports of serious problems within the agency were based on fact," Edmonds said in the statement. "However, the FBI has yet to conduct a thorough investigation into these allegations."

As a language specialist for the FBI, Edmonds was responsible for translating potential terrorist documents from Turkish to English. She reported two categories of problems within the FBI, including what she said was incompetence and the more serious problem of intentional mistranslations.

According to Edmonds, many people contracted by the FBI to translate sensitive terrorism materials had insufficient translating skills. Edmonds said that she knew people working as translators who did not grasp the English language. Some had been in the United States for less than two years.

"We are here to ring the wake-up bell, and beg you not to turn the other way," said Edmonds. "It's time to decide whether or not our American democracy is worth fighting for."

"This is not just about one case or one whistleblower," Edmonds said at news conference at the National Press Club Wednesday.

In fact, other former FBI employees have voiced concerns about the way the agency handles a post-Sept. 11 country.

During the summer of 2004, Mike German, a 16-year veteran of the FBI, resigned from his job after being alienated for voicing concerns about how counter-terrorism investigations were handled.

"I was openly retaliated against because I reported the flaws," German said at the news conference.

German said he was dropped from work involving domestic terrorism after questioning the agency's handling of the case.

"I'm an investigator," said German. "I'm trained to look at the facts."

German said the case was not being managed according to FBI procedures, citing serious flaws in the way evidence was handled.

"It's incredible, the amount of talent the FBI has available to them," said German. "Too much of their talent is wasted on mismanagement."

German said that mismanagement is the FBI's main problem, not imagination.

"Yet management has not changed in the FBI," said German. "Don't tell me you've reformed. Show me."

Both Edmonds and German complained that the government has not made a serious attempt to address the national-security issues that cost them their jobs. Rather, the FBI has focused on covering up the issues, they claimed.

"The inspector general is only investigating the way I was treated," said German. "They are not investigating the underlying facts."

"They engage in these relentless efforts to cover up," said Edmonds.

According to the ACLU, whistleblowers need more protection from the government.

"Security and censorship make us less safe not more," said Ann Beeson, ACLU associate legal director. "The message is shut up or we'll shut you up by punishing or firing you."

"Without congressional oversight, the FBI will continue to hide its failures and quash whistleblowers," said Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project On Government Oversight. "The public has a right to know what its government is doing."

The Project on Government Oversight filed a lawsuit last June against Attorney General John Ashcroft for his role in retroactively classifying congressional briefings concerning Edmond's case.

"Let's not pretend this was done in the name of national security," Brian said Wednesday. "We cannot waste time hiding mistakes and protecting egos."

"Let us remind ourselves that our government does not consist of one branch but three," said Edmonds. "We are demanding action. We are demanding true representation."

The FBI had no comments on the allegations. As if often the case, Sibel Edmonds is less coy and more direct in one on one interviews. I interviewed her briefly following her press conference. What was not said yesterday was that on the day Condi Rice was confirmed to head the State Dept. by the U.S. Senate, Sibel once again accused Dr. Rice of being a liar when she said she did not know that of the threat intelligence regarding the use of planes used as weapons. According to Sibel, the FBI uncovered evidence of the 9/11 plot with specific details mentioning hijacking of planes and flying them into targets in 5 U.S. cities. This is just one case of many which suggest that certain U.S. officials were well aware of this threat. Further indication of Condi's lying is evident in examining the story of the July 2001 G-8 Summit in Genoa, Italy where due to a threat posed by Bin Laden to crash airliners loaded with Semtex into the the summit site, they closed off the airspace and had the president and his staff, including Condi stay in an aircraft carrier off the coast. Funny, the President mentioned the G-8 when asked about the August 6th PDB he recieved in Crawford. Why would he mention Genoa when asked how the Aug. 6th PDB came to be? Because somehow the Italian threat of planes as weapons actually led to the production of the PDB.