Sunday, June 30, 2013

sibel edmonds: classified woman


theamericanconservative | Sibel Edmonds is no stranger to longtime TAC readers. I wrote an article exploring some of her claims back in January 2008, a blog item in August 2009, and Kara Hopkins and I did an interview with her for the November 2009 issue of the magazine. It was featured on the cover as “Who’s Afraid of Sibel Edmonds?

Edmonds has recently written a book entitled Classified Woman detailing her journey from FBI translator to whistleblower, finally emerging as an outspoken advocate of free speech and transparency in government through her founding of the National Security Whistleblowers’ Coalition and her always informative Boiling Frogs Post website.

As Edmonds ruefully notes, her tale of high level mendacity has always found a better reception in the European and Asian media than in the United States, though her odyssey has included an appearance on “60 Minutes” in October 2002 and a feature article in Vanity Fair called “An Inconvenient Patriot” in September 2005. Two senators, Chuck Grassley and Patrick Leahy, became interested in her case early on and found her a credible witness, as did a U.S. Department of Justice IG’s report. She speculates that that her ostracism by the Fourth Estate, and also by congressmen who were ostensibly engaged in elevating government ethics, is due to the fact that both Republicans and Democrats were parties to the criminal behavior that she describes. In one particularly delicious account of high level shenanigans she recounts how an interview with Congressman Henry Waxman’s House Oversight and Government Reform staff was stopped abruptly when a staffer asked her if any Democrats were involved. “We have to stop here and not go any further. We don’t want to know,” he intoned after she confirmed that the malfeasance was not strictly GOP.

I will not even try to reconstruct all the twists and turns that Edmonds describes in her 341 pages, but rest assured that she has the ability to surprise one with new revelations, even for readers like myself who have been following her case. Edmonds’s tale is basically about high level incompetence at the FBI both before and after 9/11, including hiring translators who could not speak the language they were translating or who were former employees of the organizations being investigated, leading to deliberately falsified translations. The translators and their supervisors would engage in go-slows, sabotage of work already done, and padding of accounts within the department to create a backlog of work and red ink, thus encouraging budget increases and more resources to rectify the shortfalls. Laptops and files containing classified information regularly disappeared. Attempts to report security problems were routinely ignored as all levels within the bureau because no one wanted to make anyone look bad. One Edmonds supervisor described the translation department as “drowned in corruption, incompetence, nepotism, you name it…” but then proceeded to do nothing about it. Bear in mind that this was after 9/11, when the government was on high alert and allegedly fully focused on security issues.