Monday, March 15 2010 - Research/Evidence
Sibel Edmonds Speaks Out on Whistleblower 'Protections'
by James Corbett
FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds joined The Corbett Report last Friday to discuss the deplorable state of whistleblower "protections" in the United States, including S.372, a bill making its way through the Senate that would allow the FBI and other "national security" agencies to dismiss whistleblowers' claims without any form of oversight.
The details of Edmonds' experience blowing the whistle on the FBI--where, in the wake of 9/11, she worked in the Turkish language division of the Washington field office's translation department--are by now fairly well known amongst followers of the alternative media. The revelations that have emerged from her case have been explosive: that foreign operatives working within the translation department tried to recruit her for their operations; that there exists a nuclear spy ring aided and abetted by high ranking U.S. government officials selling America's nuclear secrets on the black market; that foreign language intelligence directly pertaining to 9/11 was deliberately withheld from FBI agents in the field; that Osama Bin Laden had an 'intimate relationship' with the United States government right up until 9/11. Perhaps the only thing more remarkable than the information she has revealed is that she ever got to reveal it at all.
The route by which Sibel Edmonds became the silent, gagged star of the 9/11 Truth movement and the poster child of the national security whistleblowers club is a long and circuitous one, but to hear Edmonds herself tell it, it was never her intention to become a whistleblower: "What I did was what I had actually taken an oath to do, and that was to report wrongdoing or criminal activities or government waste and fraud and mismanagement to the 'appropriate' authorities." Little did she know this was to be the first step on what has so far been an eight year long quest to bring the truth about what she witnessed to the public's attention.
In 2002 the Senate Judiciary Committee held public hearings into Edmonds' case. Also that year she filed suit against the Department of Justice. In October of that year, Attorney General John Ashcroft invoked the state secrets privilege--an obscure piece of common law that allows the government to withhold 'sensitive' information from discovery--to stop her case from going forward. In 2004, the Justice Department again invoked the state secret privilege to prevent Edmonds from testifying in a lawsuit by families of the 9/11 victims against various Saudi interests. The DoJ even retroactively classified the Senate Judiciary hearings into Edmonds's claims that took place in 2002. Later that year, an Inspector General report completely vindicated Edmonds, confirming that her allegations cannot be refuted and that she was fired from the FBI simply for having spoken out about the corruption and criminal conduct she had witnessed. Senators who had promised to hold full hearings into her case once the Inspector General issued his report were nowhere to be found in its wake. In 2005, various Democrats pledged their support to Edmonds and other national security whistleblowers, but when they ended up taking over the House Oversight Committee after the 2006 mid-term elections, there was no extra effort made to bring the Edmonds case forward.
Needless to say, Edmonds is no longer waiting for congress to investigate her case properly. "It's nothing but a cosmetic illusion of protection for whistleblowers," she says of proper, government-approved channels for whistleblowers to blow the whistle. "If you look at the whistleblower cases brought in court [over the] past 10 or 15 years, you will see how many have really succeeded, which tells you it doesn't work."
Unfortunately, the media has not been up to the task either. Despite some early coverage on 60 Minutes, the media have largely ignored Edmonds' story or failed to convey its significance. Regarding the 60 Minutes piece, she says, "They did not want to cover anything that had to do with corrupt congressional people, about the Turkish lobby. They didn't want to cover that and they made it clear. [...] It just ended up being a kind of an employment drama."
Last year, Edmonds was finally deposed in the case of U.S. Congressional candidate David Krikorian. The only mainstream media outlet so far to cover her explosive, on-the-record testimony has been Larry Flynt's Hustler Magazine.
Now with S.372, the government is merely adding insult to injury. "I really didn't think it could get any worse until it was brought to my attention that this was what the Senate was looking at and this is what they wanted to do. And once I started reading, I said 'Well, I was wrong, it can get worse.'" Now, Edmonds and her National Security Whistleblowers Coalition have teamed up with the National Whistleblowers Center to denounce the pending legislation that would actually strip national security whistleblowers of what few options they currently have for protesting their case. As a recent letter penned by Edmonds and other national security whistleblowers outlines, S.372 is set to make things all but impossible for future would-be whistleblowers:
[...]the scope of the new "State Secrets" summary dismissal powers is radically expanded. S. 372 accomplishes this by giving the heads of every agency defined under 5 U.S.C. 7532 the power to summarily fire whistleblowers, with no administrative or judicial appeal. Under S. 372 not only do the directors of the CIA and NSA have the power to summarily throw out whistleblower cases, this power is also granted to agencies and departments such as the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice and the Department of Commerce. Section 7532 covers over one half of the entire federal workforce.
Given just how stacked the system is against the whistleblowers, Edmonds is not likely to be celebrating should S.372 be stopped in its legislative tracks: "Even if this doesn't go through[...]we won't be celebrating as national security whistleblowers. We would just say 'Well, good that it didn't get worse.'"
So what is Sibel Edmonds trying to do now to bypass the corrupt government oversight channels and controlled mainstream media? Recently, she's started a new website called BoilingFrogsPost.com. "We've put together a good team of reporters.[...]These are some of the best so-called alternative [reporters] who want to do this reporting, who want to go after these stories and keep bringing attention to it." The site is only four months old, but already has an impressive list of op-eds, articles and audio interviews. "With the internet today we do have the opportunity for sending the links and sending the articles," she points out. "That helps with raising awareness."
Given the abysmal state of whistleblowing in the U.S. these days, perhaps 'raising awareness' is the best we can hope for at this time. After all, as Howard Beale in Network so sagely advised us, we have to get angry about things before we can hope to change them. And we will never get angry if we continue to rely on officially sanctioned government whitewash inquiries and milquetoast 60 Minutes reporting that fails to even ask people like Sibel Edmonds what she was trying to blow the whistle about. The internet is the last great hope for people like Sibel to get their story out.
Still, it is a long, slow and painstaking process to bring the public up to speed on these issues and why they are so important. It could take years before the American public starts to get angry enough to demand real answers to Edmonds' questions en masse. But given the tenacity of this woman to have pursued this topic for nearly a decade, I imagine that when the public does reach that point, Sibel Edmonds will be ready.
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