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Statement of FBI Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds and Her Attorneys
The following statement was released today by Stephen M. Kohn, David K. Colapinto and Michael D. Kohn, the attorneys representing FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds:
"Today, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy, and a senior minority member of that committee, Senator Charles Grassley, sent a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft. The letter raises serious concerns regarding our client, Sibel D. Edmonds, a former FBI contract linguist. Ms. Edmonds had filed concerns related to major security failures within the FBI which directly threaten the FBI's ability to combat terrorism and espionage. The Senators' letter confirms that several of the security violations disclosed by Ms. Edmonds have already been confirmed by the FBI. These confirmed security breakdowns include the following:
* An FBI language 'monitor' responsible for conducting top secret translations of conversations recorded during FBI investigations 'failed to translate intelligence-related information;'
* The FBI monitor had previously 'worked' for the very organization which the FBI was investigating. Additionally, the FBI monitor, who had access to vital top secret information, had 'unreported contacts' with a 'foreign national' who was a member of the organization in question;
* The FBI monitor failed to properly translate conversations in which the foreign national identified above was a participant.
"The FBI has now conceded that its security program was deficient and flawed. The security lapses already confirmed during the investigation of Ms. Edmonds' allegations demonstrate that the FBI has again failed to properly protect the American people. The FBI also retaliated against the whistleblower who courageously raised these issues, in an improper attempt to hide gross lapses in its own security program.
"Today Ms. Edmonds was forced to file a motion in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to compel the testimony of two critical witnesses concerning the FBI's security breakdown. These two witnesses are scheduled to leave the United States on September 6th. The two, a former FBI contract monitor in the FBI translations program and her husband, an employee of the Department of the Air Force, are at the center of investigations into allegations of serious security violations at the FBI.
"The FBI is the only agency seeking to block the testimony of these two material witnesses, despite the fact that the United States cannot compel one of the witnesses to return to this country for future cooperation in the on-going investigations. The two witnesses were originally subpoenaed to testify in early August. At the governments request, the depositions were re-scheduled for September 3 and 4, 2002.
"All parties in the lawsuit have agreed to allow the depositions to take place, except for the FBI. These parties include the U.S. Attorney's office, the Department of the Air Force, and the two witnesses. Because the FBI has attempted to block the testimony, Ms. Edmonds was forced to file, today, a motion to compel the testimony. See Edmonds v. U.S. Department of Justice, No. 1:02CV01448 (JR) (D.D.C.). dcd_ElectronicFiling@dcd.uscourts.gov.
"In addition to undermining national security, the FBI has illegally retaliated against the whistleblower. After Ms. Edmonds disclosed the security breakdown to top FBI management (including Dale Watson, Executive Assistant Director for Counter-terrorism and Counterintelligence, the head of security for the FBI Washington Field Office and the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility), the FBI terminated Ms. Edmonds' employment contract. Worse, like many FBI translators, Ms. Edmonds has family members who still reside outside of the United States. These relatives are particularly vulnerable to retaliation - including imprisonment or even death - in various foreign nations. While working for the FBI, Ms. Edmonds was informed that her continued whistleblowing could threaten her relatives abroad.
"On April 11, 2002, a warrant was served at the home of Ms. Edmonds' sister in her mother country. The warrant was for the arrest and interrogation of her sister. Fortunately, her sister was out of the country at the time. However, this incident raises serious questions about whether the FBI is willing to protect its linguists and maintain the integrity of its translation program.
"The FBI's security breakdown, its continued retaliation against whistleblowers and its attempt to block vital testimony of witnesses who are about to leave the United States (and who can confirm the FBI's security violations) demonstrates reprehensible conduct. We call upon the FBI to immediately withdraw its objections to the subpoena and stop a cover-up from unfolding."
The whistleblower, Sibel Edmonds, issued the following statement:
"I am appalled that to this date the government has not taken any action against the persons responsible for security violations. It is horrific that my family members in a foreign country were threatened and targeted, and that I can never return to the country of my birth.
"Although the Attorney General and FBI Director were urgently notified in May about the foreign arrest warrant targeting a member of my family, to this date, no response has been received and no action has been taken by the U.S. government to correct this problem or protect my family.
"It appears that the responsible officials are intentionally refraining from facing the facts and their serious implications, both nationally and internationally."