WASHINGTON - July 8 - The Boston Globe reported on Monday: "Sifting through old classified materials in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, FBI translator Sibel Edmonds said, she made an alarming discovery: Intercepts relevant to the terrorist plot, including references to skyscrapers, had been overlooked because they were badly translated into English.... Edmonds said she made another troubling discovery: One of her colleagues admitted being a member of an organization with ties to the Middle East that was a target of an FBI investigation. The colleague, also a Turkish translator, invited Edmonds to join the group, assuring her that her FBI credentials would guarantee admission. Edmonds declined to name the organization, because she said it has been under surveillance." [See: www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0705-02.htm]
On Tuesday the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Judge Reggie Walton) dismissed Edmonds' lawsuit, which challenged her dismissal from the FBI and made whistleblower claims. He did so without ever having a hearing on the case. Attorney General John Ashcroft invoked the rarely used State Secrets Privilege in order to prevent Edmonds from pursuing her allegations or publicizing her knowledge of the FBI's conduct before and after 9-11.
MARK ZAID, email@example.com
Zaid is Edmonds' lawyer. With respect to the dismissal he said: "The decision this week represents another example of the Executive Branch's abusive nature of using secrecy as a weapon against whistleblowers." He added that Edmonds would appeal the decision.
Note: Edmonds and Zaid are scheduled to speak at a press conference Thursday (July 8), 1 p.m. at the National Press Club, Lisagor Room.
DANIEL ELLSBERG, ellsbergD@cs.com, www.ellsberg.net
Author of the book Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, Ellsberg said today: "Ashcroft's determination to prevent Edmonds from telling what she knows, in open court and under oath, reeks of cover-up. At this point, I trust her judgment that it is his efforts at secrecy, rather than her efforts at disclosure, that endanger our national security."
STEVEN AFTERGOOD, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.fas.org/sgp
Director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, Aftergood said today: "What has happened here is that secrecy has been allowed to trump the judicial process. The court said that the case is too sensitive to be adjudicated, thus denying Edmonds her day in court. That's simply mind-boggling. The courts have been able to deal with classified information, for example in espionage cases -- or even Freedom of Information Act cases. Evidence can be presented in camera."
MICHAEL KIRKPATRICK, email@example.com, www.pogo.org
Kirkpatrick is a lawyer at Public Citizen representing the Project on Government Oversight in a related case (POGO vs. Ashcroft) filed two weeks ago. Kirkpatrick said today: "In an apparent attempt to stifle public discussion of the merits of Edmonds' charges, Ashcroft reclassified information which had been -- and continues to be -- publicly available. Senators Leahy and Grassley wrote letters to the Department of Justice and FBI requesting investigations of the allegations raised by Edmonds, but Ashcroft reclassified the information in those documents and the Senators removed the letters from their Web sites. But POGO has those documents and they remain available on the internet. There's no national security justification for labeling public information secret, it just chills public discussion and impedes congressional oversight. Our lawsuit challenges Ashcroft's outrageous attempt to re-classifying public information."