Friday, October 23, 2009

Sibel Edmonds 101

A name you should know

Sibel Edmonds is a name that every American should know.

Because of our derelict media, however, most people have never heard of her, and many of those who have don’t know why she’s so important. But I hope to remedy all this. Not singlehandedly, of course. But I’m determined to do my part, and in what follows I’m going to provide a brief overview of her story.

It’s a fascinating story, one that unfolds much like a John Grisham novel. It’s a story that involves espionage and blackmail. It’s a story that implicates high-ranking members of the US Congress, State Department, and Pentagon of treason.

It’s a story that, you’ll soon realize, needs to be heard.

Turkish spies?

Born in Iran in 1970, Sibel Edmonds fled with her family to Turkey shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. After graduating from high school, she moved to the United States, went to college, and eventually became an American citizen. Just days after the September 11 attacks, she went to work as a translator for the FBI. Her job there was to listen to wiretapped conversations and decide which conversations were “pertinent” and needed to be translated and passed on to her supervisors.

One Sunday morning, fellow FBI translator Melek Can Dickerson and her husband, Air Force Major Douglas Dickerson, paid Edmonds an unexpected visit. Before long, it became clear that the Dickersons had an agenda—to get Edmonds to join the American-Turkish Council. If the ATC knew that she worked for the FBI, Douglas said, they’d be more than happy to see that all her financial needs were taken care of. He proceeded to describe how he and his wife had benefited from their “network of high-level friends.”

Aware that the FBI was currently investigating the American-Turkish Council, Edmonds reported this conversation to Special Agent Dennis Saccher. Saccher in turn asked Edmonds and another colleague to go back and translate some of the wiretaps that Melek Can Dickerson had marked “not pertinent.” In one of these conversations, a Turkish official could be heard offering $7,000 to a US State Department official in exchange for certain undisclosed secrets. In another conversation, officials discussed paying a Pentagon official for weapons. In yet another conversation, Turkish officials implied that they’d been putting doctoral students inside various US institutions in order to obtain information about nuclear weapons. By marking these wiretaps “not pertinent” and thus not translating them, Dickerson had prevented them for being heard by anyone else in the bureau.

Needless to say, this seemed to suggest that she was engaging in treason, and Saccher immediately passed the information onto FBI Headquarters. But, to his surprise, they told him not to investigate the matter any further, calling it a “can of worms.” Undeterred, Edmonds appealed to the two Justice Department agencies responsible for investigating the FBI, as well as the senior members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Just the tip of the iceberg

All the while, Edmonds continued listening to wiretaps, some of which she claims involved other American officials—including high-ranking members of the US Congress, State Department, and Pentagon—engaging in similarly treasonous behavior. The Dickersons, it seemed, were just the tip of the iceberg.

Though Edmonds subsequently shared this information with the Senate Judiciary Committee, the 9/11 Commission, and the Department of Justice’s Inspector General, a 2002 Bush administration gag order prevented [.pdf] any of it from becoming public. The nature of the gag order seemed to suggest that she was telling the truth. As former CIA analyst Philip Giraldi has noted, the gag order “was not requested by the FBI but by the State Department and Pentagon—which employed individuals she identified as being involved in criminal activities. If her allegations are frivolous, that order would scarcely seem necessary.”

The FBI fired Edmonds in March 2002, claiming she had a “disruptive effect” on her department.

Though unable to give specifics, she spent the next six years telling parts of her story to anyone who would listen. In 2004, she told The Independent that, contrary to the claims of National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, senior US officials knew months before 9/11 that al-Qaeda was planning to attack major American cities with airplanes. In 2008, she told the London Times that a high-ranking State Department official had knowingly provided Israeli and Turkish “moles” with “security clearance to work in sensitive nuclear research facilities.” She further claimed that Turkish officials “often acted as a conduit for the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s spy agency.” Given everything we know about the ISI, this means that some of these secrets were very likely passed on to al-Qaeda, as well as Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.


This past August, former Ohio Congressional candidate David Krikorian subpoenaed Edmonds to testify in a libel case that indirectly involved several Turkish organizations. In what came as a surprise to many, the Obama Justice Department didn’t step in, and Edmonds was finally able to elaborate upon some of her allegations and even name names.

First, she identified former Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman as the State Department official from the London Times story. According to Edmonds, Grossman was receiving money from various Turkish operatives. On one occasion, he allegedly arranged for a State Department colleague to go and collect a bag filled with $14,000 in cash. Aside from providing Israeli and Turkish moles with “security clearance to work in sensitive nuclear research facilities,” she claims that Grossman “assisted his Turkish and Israeli contacts directly, and he also facilitated access to members of Congress who might be inclined to help for reasons of their own or could be bribed into cooperation.”

Edmonds further alleges that Grossman was working closely with Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, both of whom provided him with the names of Pentagon employees with access to top-secret information relating to policy, weapons, and nuclear technology. She contends that Perle and Feith also gave Grossman “highly sensitive personal information” about these individuals—information, for instance, disclosing that “this person is a closet gay; this person has a chronic gambling issue; this person is an alcoholic.” Turkish operatives in turn could have used this information to blackmail government secrets from these employees.

During her deposition, Edmonds also identified former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL). She allegedly heard Turkish individuals claiming that they’d “arranged for tens of thousands of dollars to be paid to Hastert’s campaign funds in small checks.” According to journalist David Rose, who has interviewed others familiar with the wiretaps, “the recordings also contained repeated references to Hastert’s flip-flop, in the fall of 2000, over an issue which remains of intense concern to the Turkish government—the continuing campaign to have Congress designate the killings of Armenians in Turkey between 1915 and 1923 a genocide.” In August 2000, Hasteret promised to bring the resolution to a vote before the entire House. “He had a clear political reason, as analysts noted at the time: a California Republican incumbent, locked in a tight congressional race, was looking to win over his district’s large Armenian community. Thanks to Hastert, the resolution, vehemently opposed by the Turks, passed the International Relations Committee by a large majority. Then, on October 19, minutes before the full House vote, Hastert withdrew it.” Rose notes that “a senior official at the Turkish Consulate is said to have claimed in one recording that the price for Hastert to withdraw the resolution would have been at least $500,000.”

Along with Hastert, Edmonds claimed that Congressmen Roy Blunt ( R, Mo) and Dan Burton (R-IN) and former Congressmen Tom Lantos (D-CA), Bob Livingston (R-LA), and Stephen J. Solarz (D-NY) have performed favors for various Turkish connections in exchange for money. Lantos, she told Philip Giraldi in a recent interview, had an associate named Alan Makovsky working “very closely with Dr. Sabri Sayari in Georgetown University, who is widely believed to be a Turkish spy. Lantos would give Makovsky highly classified policy-related documents obtained during defense briefings for passage to Israel because Makovsky was also working for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).” AIPAC would then weed out the information that they believed would be helpful to Israel. “The Turks would go through the leftovers, take what they wanted, and then try to sell the rest. If there were something relevant to Pakistan, they would contact the ISI officer at the embassy and say, ‘We’ve got this and this, let’s sit down and talk.’ And then they would sell it to the Pakistanis.”

Edmonds claims that many other government employees—including Congressional staffers and several lesser known officials at the Pentagon and State Department—were also involved in such illicit activities.

“She’s credible”

“If Sibel Edmonds is a fabricator,” writes Philip Giraldi, “she is a damned good one. I would also note that there is a fundamental flaw to the criticism of Sibel, which is that she claims that every single statement made by her is backed up by actual documents in FBI investigative files dealing with the activities of foreign agents who were suborning our elected officials and senior bureaucrats. She has even provided the numbers of the files. At the end of the day, either the files and the evidence they contain are there or they are not. If they are not, then the government should make its case publicly that fraud is being committed by Sibel and her supporters and take whatever legal action they consider to be appropriate. I would suggest that the silence from the government over this matter in itself confirms that the allegations are true in every detail.”

Senator Chuck Grassley, the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has found Edmonds trustworthy. “She’s credible,” he told 60 Minutes in 2004. “And the reason I feel she’s very credible is because people within the FBI have corroborated a lot of her story.”

After conducting a fairly extensive investigation into some of Edmonds’ claims, the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General concluded that "many of her core allegations” regarding Melek Can Dickerson were “supported by either documentary evidence or witnesses other than Edmonds.” Regarding “an allegation that focused on the co-worker’s [Dickerson’s] performance, which Edmonds believed to be an indication of a security problem, the evidence clearly corroborated Edmonds’ allegations.”

The report further notes that both Edmonds and Dickerson had been given lie detector tests in March 2002. Both women passed their tests, but the report notes that an FBI Security Officer and other FBI managers later complained that Dickerson was not asked any specific questions about Edmonds’ claims.

More recently, former FBI Counterintelligence and Counterespionage Manager John Cole has corroborated many of Edmonds’ claims. He’s confirmed that the FBI spent several years investigating Marc Grossman and that the case was ultimately “buried and covered up.” Moreover, Cole “says that from 1993 to 1995 alone, he had ‘125 open cases’ of Israeli espionage, representing nearly half of all the investigations carried on in his Global Unit.” “Inside the FBI itself, Cole said, tracking suspected Israeli spies was hush-hush. In a sharp break with FBI procedures, he was prohibited from notifying field offices when an investigation crept into their jurisdictions. ‘No one was supposed to know we were investigating the Israelis.’”

There is also considerable circumstantial evidence supporting her allegations. For instance, upon retiring from the State Department in 2005, Grossman became a consultant for a Turkish holding company and began earning a salary of $100,000 a month. Kind of smells like payback money to me. Similarly, since leaving Congress, Hastert, Livingston, and Solarz have all received enormous salaries lobbying for the Turkish government.

Call to action

Although Congress has previously investigated all sorts of relatively trivial matters, from steroid use in Major League Baseball to consensual oral sex in the White House, there’s been no move to investigate any of Edmonds’ allegations. Given that Edmonds has implicated both Democrats and Republicans, this is hardly surprising. In the same way, Clinton would have never been impeached had Republicans learned that he’d been fellated by New Gingrich and not some unknown intern.

If you go to Edmonds’ website, you’ll see that she’s asking people to send the following message to their representatives in Congress:

I am requesting the immediate release of the entire report completed in July 2004 by the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General (DOJ-IG) of its investigation into confirmed reports by FBI Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, but which has remained classified; and further insist that it be followed by a joint investigation by Congress, including open public hearings, into those reports of wrongdoing, criminal activities, and cover-ups against the security and interests of the United States and its citizenry.

Of course, writing to Congress isn’t enough. In order to force investigations, it’s important to get her story out there. The mainstream media—and I hate to break it to you Republicans out there, but this includes Fox News—has its own corporate-mandated agenda and has refused to do its job. Which means that the burden falls to us.

So go to it, fellow bloggers.

For more on Edmonds’ story, see:

1 comment:

  1. Don, this is a great post on an important topic. Your thoroughness in gathering the information and skill in presenting it all is amazing!

    Thank you!


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