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Thread: The Supreme Court Denies Sibel Edmonds' Case

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    The Supreme Court Denies Sibel Edmonds' Case

    Supreme Court denies FBI translator's case

    http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercu...s/13275333.htm

    TONI LOCY
    11/28/2005

    WASHINGTON - A former FBI translator failed Monday to persuade the Supreme Court to revive her lawsuit alleging she was fired for reporting possible wrongdoing by other linguists involved in counterterrorism investigations.

    The high court also rebuffed a request by Sibel Edmonds and media groups to rule on whether an appellate court improperly held arguments in the case in secret without being asked to do so by either side.

    "When courts are sealed, the public may suspect the worst and lose faith in their government simply because they are prohibited access," wrote lawyers for media groups, including The Associated Press.

    Edmonds, 32, who was hired after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and fired in March 2002, argued that a trial court judge was wrong to accept the Justice Department's claim that allowing her lawsuit to go forward would threaten "state secrets," or national security.

    The former translator claimed the FBI terminated her contract after she complained about the quality of translations of terrorism-related wiretaps and had reported that another translator was leaking information to targets of investigations.

    At the time, the FBI said it fired Edmonds because she had committed security violations and had disrupted the translation unit at the bureau's Washington field office where she worked.

    Edmonds' firing was controversial among some lawmakers in Congress, especially after the Justice Department's inspector general found that the FBI had not taken her complaints seriously enough and had fired her for lodging complaints about the translation unit.

    Her lawyers argued the government should not be allowed to use the "state secrets privilege" to silence whistleblowers, such as Edmonds, who reveal "national security blunders."

    U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton dismissed Edmonds' lawsuit in 2004 after then-Attorney General John Ashcroft invoked the "state secrets privilege" before Justice Department lawyers had responded to any of the case's allegations.

    News organizations wanted the court to clarify when and how appellate arguments over civil lawsuits can be closed to the public.

    "Closing cases that involve allegations of government wrongdoing ... fosters public doubts about the private justice that certain people and entities get in the public courts, harms public debate about the issues involved ... and perhaps most devastatingly, fosters an appearance of unfairness that the government can close off access to the public courts when it is under fire," the media lawyers said in a friend-of-the-court filing.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    Supreme Court Denies Review in FBI Whistleblower Case

    http://www.aclu.org/natsec/gen/21831prs20051128.html

    (11/28/2005)

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    CONTACT: media@aclu.org

    NEW YORK -- The American Civil Liberties Union today expressed disappointment over the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to review the case of Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI translator who was fired in retaliation for reporting serious security breaches and espionage within the Bureau. Lower courts dismissed the case when former Attorney General John Ashcroft invoked the rarely used “state secrets” privilege.

    “Sibel Edmonds is a true patriot who deserved her day in court,” said ACLU Associate Legal Director Ann Beeson. “We are disappointed that the Supreme Court did not see the ongoing danger of allowing the FBI to hide its blunders behind the ‘states secrets’ privilege.”

    Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office, added, "Now it is up to Congress to pass legislation that would prevent retaliation against heroic government employees who uncover weaknesses in our ability to protect public safety."

    The Court created the so-called state secrets privilege more than 50 years ago but has not considered it since. However, the ACLU said the government is increasingly misusing the privilege to cover up its own wrongdoing and to keep legitimate cases out of court.

    Edmonds, a former Middle Eastern language specialist hired by the FBI shortly after 9/11, was fired in 2002 and filed a lawsuit later that year challenging the retaliatory dismissal. A report by the Justice Department’s Inspector General, made public in January 2005, concluded that Edmonds’ whistleblower allegations were “the most significant factor” in the FBI’s decision to terminate her.

    “This case was never about me; it was about the FBI’s attempt to cover up wrongdoing and mismanagement,” Edmonds said. “I am disheartened that the legal system has failed to hold the FBI accountable for its actions, but I will continue to press Congress to fully investigate security breaches within the Bureau.”

    Since filing her lawsuit, Edmonds has received support from several members of Congress, including Senate Judiciary Committee members Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).

    Edmonds’ ordeal is highlighted in a 10-page article about whistleblowers in the September 2005 issue of Vanity Fair which links her allegations and the subsequent retaliation to possible “illicit activity involving Turkish nationals” and a high-level member of Congress. The ACLU said the article, titled “An Inconvenient Patriot,” further undercuts the government's claim that the case can’t be litigated because certain information is secret.

    In August 2004, Edmonds and more than 50 former and current government officials from multiple agencies formed the National Security Whistleblower’s Coalition. The group is the first whistleblower coalition formed exclusively of government employees who have raised national security issues.

    “Unfortunately, what happened to Sibel Edmonds was not an isolated incident,” Beeson said. “But it is truly remarkable that Sibel has turned adversity into activism. Her story is far from over.”

    Edmonds is represented by Beeson, Melissa Goodman, and Ben Wizner of the national ACLU; Art Spitzer of the ACLU of the National Capital Area; and Mark Zaid of Krieger and Zaid, PLLC.

    Further information on the case, including other legal documents and a backgrounder on the state secrets privilege, is online at: www.aclu.org/whistleblower.

    For more information on the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, go to: www.nswbc.org.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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