THE BLOG

Sibel Edmonds Speaks...

05/25/2011 12:20 pm ET

Sibel Edmonds, the FBI whistle-blower who has been gagged for years by the Bush administration over intercepts she translated while at the bureau, was willing to go to prison to get her story told. She spent years trying to get her day in court, but the State Secrets gag against her prohibited her from telling her story even to a FISA judge. After years of trying to fight her way to through the maze of the US court system, Sibel Edmonds finally decided to tell her story no matter the consequences and offered to do so to any interested US media outlets.

Today, part of that story runs, but not in the United States, where not a single corporate outlet was willing to displease the White House and give Edmonds a platform. The Sunday Times Online, however, proved up to the task - somewhat.  Here are the snips from that article:

"A WHISTLEBLOWER has made a series of extraordinary claims about how corrupt
government officials allowed Pakistan and other states to steal nuclear
weapons secrets.

Sibel Edmonds, a 37-year-old former Turkish language translator for the FBI,
listened into hundreds of sensitive intercepted conversations while based at
the agency's Washington field office.

She approached The Sunday Times last month after reading about an Al-Qaeda
terrorist who had revealed his role in training some of the 9/11 hijackers
while he was in Turkey.

Edmonds described how foreign intelligence agents had enlisted the support of
US officials to acquire a network of moles in sensitive military and nuclear
institutions.

<snip>

Among the hours of covert tape recordings, she says she heard evidence that
one well-known senior official in the US State Department was being paid by
Turkish agents in Washington who were selling the information on to black
market buyers, including Pakistan.

The name of the official - who has held a series of top government posts - is
known to The Sunday Times. He strongly denies the claims.

However, Edmonds said: "He was aiding foreign operatives against US interests
by passing them highly classified information, not only from the State
Department but also from the Pentagon, in exchange for money, position and
political objectives."

Let me help the Times here. The person against whom these allegations are being made is Marc Grossman. The Times could have published the name and also provided the denial from Grossman's camp. I find it incredibly disturbing that they would not name the official.

"She claims that the FBI was also gathering evidence against senior Pentagon
officials - including household names - who were aiding foreign agents.

"If you made public all the information that the FBI have on this case, you
will see very high-level people going through criminal trials," she said.

Her story shows just how much the West was infiltrated by foreign states
seeking nuclear secrets. It illustrates how western government officials
turned a blind eye to, or were even helping, countries such as Pakistan
acquire bomb technology."

Those senior DOD officials who are not mentioned in the Times article, all but one are no longer in government. They are alleged to be Doug Feith, Richard Perle, among others. There is also one person who is part of these allegations, still serving in a high level position at the DOD. His last name begins with an E.

I have tried getting someone in broadcast and print media to run this story. My sources did not include Edmonds, but because of the sensitive nature of the information, I was concerned that she would go to jail anyway, unless I proved she was not a source - which would require me to reveal my sources.

I thought if I approached a big enough news outlet, the pressure generated by the public response would spare Edmonds jail time and I would not be pressured to reveal sources - something I would not have done anyway.  Even a former high ranking CIA officer offered to byline the article with me if that would help sell a broadcaster/publication on running the story. No one was interested.

That the Times ran these allegations (she is under a state secrets gag folks, so it is not like she is gagged for lying) is encouraging. But that they omitted all names from the allegations is unethical.  The point of a free press is not to protect the powerful against the weak, but to protect the public from the powerful. The Times was willing to stick a toe in, but was not willing to risk upsetting a foreign government (This is, after all, a British paper).

There are more names, including members of Congress and people serving in the FBI. This is what happens when basic government services as well as the most sensitive government functions are outsourced to the global marketplace.

Back to the Times article, which toward the end illustrates that someone in the editorial offices located a backbone, even if temporarily:

"She has given evidence to closed sessions of Congress and the 9/11 commission,
but many of the key points of her testimony have remained secret. She has
now decided to divulge some of that information after becoming disillusioned
with the US authorities' failure to act.

One of Edmonds's main roles in the FBI was to translate thousands of hours of
conversations by Turkish diplomatic and political targets that had been
covertly recorded by the agency.

<snip>

The Turks and Israelis had planted "moles" in military and academic
institutions which handled nuclear technology. Edmonds says there were
several transactions of nuclear material every month, with the Pakistanis
being among the eventual buyers. "The network appeared to be obtaining
information from every nuclear agency in the United States," she said.

They were helped, she says, by the high-ranking State Department official who
provided some of their moles - mainly PhD students - with security clearance
to work in sensitive nuclear research facilities. These included the Los
Alamos nuclear laboratory in New Mexico, which is responsible for the
security of the US nuclear deterrent.

In one conversation Edmonds heard the official arranging to pick up a $15,000
cash bribe. The package was to be dropped off at an agreed location by
someone in the Turkish diplomatic community who was working for the network.

Let me again offer help to the good folks at the Times. The person in question is a Turkish military official who at that time also happened to sit on the board of a particular defense contracting firm.

"The Turks, she says, often acted as a conduit for the Inter-Services
Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan's spy agency, because they were less likely to
attract suspicion. Venues such as the American Turkish Council in Washington
were used to drop off the cash, which was picked up by the official.

Edmonds said: "I heard at least three transactions like this over a period of
2½ years. There are almost certainly more."

The Pakistani operation was led by General Mahmoud Ahmad, then the ISI chief."

Now, who is General Mahmoud Ahmad?

"Intelligence analysts say that members of the ISI were close to Al-Qaeda
before and after 9/11. Indeed, Ahmad was accused of sanctioning a $100,000
wire payment to Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers, immediately before
the attacks."

You can see why Edmonds had to be silenced for "diplomatic reasons." As though diplomatic (read: business) relationships are more important than national security. Let me give you one more snip from this incredible article (minus the censorship):

"Khan was close to Ahmad and the ISI. While running Pakistan's nuclear
programme, he became a millionaire by selling atomic secrets to Libya, Iran
and North Korea. He also used a network of companies in America and Britain
to obtain components for a nuclear programme.

Khan caused an alert among western intelligence agencies when his aides met
Osama Bin Laden. "We were aware of contact between A Q Khan's people and
Al-Qaeda," a former CIA officer said last week. "There was absolute panic
when we initially discovered this, but it kind of panned out in the end."

It is likely that the nuclear secrets stolen from the United States would have
been sold to a number of rogue states by Khan.

Edmonds was later to see the scope of the Pakistani connections when it was
revealed that one of her fellow translators at the FBI was the daughter of a
Pakistani embassy official who worked for Ahmad. The translator was given
top secret clearance despite protests from FBI investigators.

Edmonds says packages containing nuclear secrets were delivered by Turkish
operatives, using their cover as members of the diplomatic and military
community, to contacts at the Pakistani embassy in Washington.

Following 9/11, a number of the foreign operatives were taken in for
questioning by the FBI on suspicion that they knew about or somehow aided
the attacks.

Edmonds said the State Department official once again proved useful. "A
primary target would call the official and point to names on the list and
say, 'We need to get them out of the US because we can't afford for them to
spill the beans'," she said. "The official said that he would 'take care of
it'."

Read the whole thing. I urge you to print it, email it, share it with everyone you know. Edmonds has said enough now that she may very likely go to prison, but she is a true patriot and she must have our support, in the media and also in the public sphere.