Monday, August 29, 2005

Don't trust the FBI either

Once again I have drawn inspiration from an article in Vanity Fair, this one “An Inconvenient Patriot” by David Rose in the September issue of the magazine. The story is about Sibel Edmonds, a whistle-blower who was fired from her job as a translator for the FBI.

2 December 2001 – Sibel Edmonds first became aware that one of her colleagues had probably leaked information to one or more targets of FBI investigations. The FBI would not investigate the colleague, Melek Can Dickerson, or her husband, a major in the US Air Force, whom Ms. Edmonds also had reason to suspect.

Ms. Dickerson had previously worked at the American-Turkish Council (“ATC”) and was friends with an FBI target who still worked there. Ms. Dickerson failed to tell the FBI she had worked at the ATC on her job application and also during her background security check. These facts were later admitted by the FBI.

At the end of December, Ms. Dickerson managed to fix the listening distribution so that only she would hear wire-taps from the ATC and 3 “high-value” diplomatic targets. It seems that she did this basically so that she could mark calls involving her friend and other counter-intelligence targets as “not pertinent” so that they would not be translated and no one else would ever know what the calls contained.

January 2002 - Dennis Saccher, the special agent in charge of Turkish counter-intelligence, also became suspicious. He asked Ms. Edmonds to listen to some of those calls and she heard evidence of:
· money to a State Department staffer in exchange for information (ATC);
· payment to a Pentagon official in relation to weapons procurement negotiations;
· installation of doctoral students at research institutions for the purpose of gathering information about black-market nuclear weapons;
· money-laundering and drugs; and
· selling of classified defence technology.

Then Saccher was ordered not to pursue the case against Dickerson.

February and March – Ms. Edmonds tried to go higher and higher within the FBI.

February - Ms. Edmonds’ mother and sister had to leave Turkey due to threats, including threats by the Turkish government.

7 March 2002 – Ms. Edmonds met with James Caruso, the deputy assistant director for counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence. During their one hour meeting, Caruso took no notes and asked no questions. Immediately after that meeting, Ms. Edmonds went to lunch with her husband and they were followed.

…they saw two men in suits pull up outside in an FBI-issue SUV. They came inside and sat down at the next table.

“They just sat and stared at Sibel,” Matthew [Edmonds] says. “They took out their cell phones, opened them, and put them on the table. They didn’t eat or drink – just sat, staring at Sibel, the whole time we were there.” Modified cell phones, Sibel knew, are commonly used by bureau agents as a means of making covert recordings.

That afternoon Ms. Edmonds wrote several letters, including letters to the Office of Professional Responsibility at the Department of Justice, as well as the department’s Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”).

22 March 2002 – Ms. Edmonds was fired from her job with immediate effect and escorted from the building.

The Bush administration has tried to make Ms. Edmonds’ case disappear at every level:
· Major Dickerson was sent to work in Belgium, his wife of course accompanying him.
· Attorney General John Ashcroft invoked state-secrets privilege; the declaration itself is classified. As a result, Ms. Edmonds’ court challenge has been blocked up to the US Court of Appeal. It remains to be seen how the Supreme Court will deal with her case.

These are established FBI patterns:
· Refusal to address internal security flaws, and
· Retaliation against whistle-blowers.

The article further provides a series of shocking stories of other whistle-blowers being discredited and losing their jobs.

January 2005 – The OIG Report finally vindicated Ms. Edmonds.

April 2005 – More than 30 whistle-blowers gathered together by Ms. Edmonds founded a non-profit organisation called the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition.

The article closes with a powerful quote from Ms. Edmonds’ late father, something he had said to her when she was a child in Iran: “Sibel, you live your life once. How do you choose to live? According to your principles, or in fear?”

2 comments:

Chatsy Malone said...

Vanity Fair rocks! I love Gore Vidal`s articles and am an advid reader of Dominic Dunne`s name dropping. I love my Martha Stuart issue damn it!

Am I misinterpreting things or is Vanity Fair kinda anti bush and anti establishment? Cause that is why I read it and what I get from it. Best magazine in the world.

Max said...

Chatsy, the Martha Stewart issue sucked. I can't believe they put that stupid old bag on the cover.

I am understanding your question to be tongue-in-cheek. Yes, Vanity Fair does rock!