In this brand new interview conducted last
week, we find the indefatigable Sibel Edmonds as spirited as ever and determined
to press on with her legal cases, in her attempt to alert the American people
of high-level criminal behavior and corruption in and around the U.S. government.
The interview concentrates on her new appeal to the Supreme Court, reactions
to the recent Vanity Fair article in which she was featured, some thoughts
on the AIPAC-Larry Franklin investigation, more details on high-level global
criminal activities – and on what kind of officials are involved in them.
Current Developments: Petitioning the Supreme Court
Christopher Deliso: It's nice to talk with you again, Sibel. A lot has
happened since we last spoke, for the
first Antiwar.com interview last July. What's the latest on your case?
Sibel Edmonds: Well, now we are trying to get the Supreme Court to take
my case. My lawyers and the ACLU are trying, and we have had several meetings
CD: Do you think they will they agree to hear the case?
SE: You know, I'm not very optimistic. They take less than 10 percent
of the cases that are requested of them, maybe 75-100 cases they take. And look
at the make-up of the current Supreme Court – it's tilting towards the Bush
administration. But my lawyers are more optimistic.
CD: If they reject your case, are they obliged to tell you why, from
a legal point of view, or otherwise?
SE: As far as I understand, sometimes they do, other times no. They
can just say, "sorry we refuse." And that's it.
CD: Now, I understand that it's an involved process, but do you have
any established timeline for when we can expect to hear yea or nay?
SE: The Supreme Court will decide whether to take the case or not in
mid-October. But in the meantime, the government – that is, the DOJ and FBI
– will file their response to our Supreme Court petition by the first week of
Further, we'll also be getting an amicus filing in support of our Supreme Court
petition from 9/11 family groups, government watchdog organizations like POGO,
GAP, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and more. This will all take place
in early September too. So things are going to be getting busy pretty soon!
CD: Wow, it will be exciting for us to watch it all unfold. But tell
me, what if the Supremos refuse to take the case? Then what?
SE: If that happens, not only this suit but all my other cases will
be dead – the State Secrets Act will kill them all together.
CD: Then what?
SE: We will have to consider other options.
CD: Aha! Evasive action?
SE: There's a chance we could try for an independent prosecutor, and
an open hearing about these issues –
CD: Like another "Bulldog" Fitzgerald, you mean?
SE: Yes, perhaps. We have to continue until there is some accountability
and the American people know what kinds of things their elected officials are
involving themselves [in] again – things directly contrary to national security.
The Media: Barking Up the Wrong Tree
CD: Well, I don't know if we can say a critical mass has been reached,
but you are appearing more and more frequently in the media, and I think people
are starting to take notice of whistleblower cases like yours. Just the other
day there was the story about the
Pentagon procurement whistleblower criticizing Halliburton, after all.
SE: Yes, okay, but the media is focusing on the wrong angle of these
stories – especially concerning my case.
CD: How's that?
SE: They are focusing too much on the whistleblower angle and not enough
on the state secrets one. They're saying, "oh, look at the poor whistleblower,
she lost her job for coming forward." That's not important. The important
thing is, why are they using this State Secrets Act – which has almost never
been used? What are they trying to hide?
CD: I see.
SE: I mean, come on, I wasn't some big diplomat or official or secret
agent or something – I was just a lowly translator! So what could possibly be
so dangerous about letting me speak? Why are they covering this up?
You know, I found out the other day that there has been no person in the history
of the United States to have had as many gag orders as I have. So when I say
I am the most gagged person in history, I mean it. They are terrified of letting
me speak, and just why they might be terrified – well, this is
what the media should be concentrating on, not that the poor whistleblower got
CD: So can you tell me, if the State Secrets Act is wheeled out so rarely,
why did they have to use it? Wasn't there a less drastic measure they could
have taken to prevent you from talking?
SE: Yes, and do you know what is the ironic thing about this? If there
had been an ongoing investigation, all they'd have to do is say so! To
shut me up, all they needed to do would have been to go into the court and say,
"Judge, you can't let her speak because we have an ongoing investigating
into these things she wants to talk about." That's all!
CD: So the point is –
SE: The point is, there was no ongoing investigation! They decided
to block all investigations! They could have quieted me very easily from
the beginning – but that would have meant they were taking my allegations seriously
CD: And thus you wouldn't have had to make them in the first place,
if they were already being investigated.
SE: Exactly! Very paradoxical. They had all the info – detailed information,
names, and everything else, so they can really launch an investigation. What
are they waiting for? But they are not interested. And because they refuse to
investigate – their only remaining option to silence me is this "State
CD: That's an interesting way to look at it. I was not aware of that
procedural difference. So considering that the congressmen you testified before
agreed that you were credible and raised serious concerns, why have there been
SE: The fact that there are no investigations – I will give you an analogy,
okay? Say if we decided to have a "war on drugs," but said in the
beginning, "right, we're only going to go after the young black guys on
the street level." Hey, we already have tens of thousands of them in our
jails anyway, why not a few more? But we decided never to go after the middle
levels, let alone the top levels…
It's like this with the so-called war on terror. We go for the Attas and Hamdis
– but never touch the guys on the top.
CD: You think they [the government] know who they are, the top guys,
SE: Oh yeah, they know.
CD: So why don't they get them?
SE: It's like I told you before – this would upset "certain foreign
relations." But it would also expose certain of our elected officials,
who have significant connections with high-level drugs- and weapons-smuggling
– and thus with the criminal underground, even with the terrorists themselves.
CD: On that note, why don't we discuss the recent Vanity Fair
article in which your case was discussed. This is the first time any possible
official associated with illicit activities related to your case was named.
The author cites sources familiar with your testimony and speculates that Dennis
Hastert took bribes to squash the Armenian genocide resolution –
SE: You know, that was such a surprise to me. I had no idea what the
final article would look like, but when I opened the magazine and read this –
well, it was a surprise.
SE: Look, if you read the article you will see they mentioned that there
were several other officials suspected of crimes. It's interesting because they
mentioned the Department of State and the DOD – but they didn't get into it.
CD: And maybe some of these others were more important than Hastert?
SE: Of course they were more important! But they went with the Armenian
CD: Now, I understand because of your gag order, you were not the one
giving the author his information. He was getting it from the other sources
familiar with your testimony. So maybe this angle they took seemed like the
most important because they didn't have all the facts –
SE: I really don't know.
A Pyrrhic Victory?
CD: So what have been the initial reactions to this article? I don't
think Hastert was particularly fazed. He said something like, "Next they'll
blame me for the Brad Pitt-Jennifer Aniston breakup."
SE: Well, it's caused more problems for me than for him, obviously.
I have been getting some very angry letters from Turkish people – now they think
I'm an agent of the Armenian lobby! And so of course this guy from the ATC,
[American-Turkish Council President James] Holmes, played on this. Because some
of my allegations involved the ATC, he loved getting a chance to blacken me
as some Armenian collaborator in the Turkish media – and at the same time made
up outrageous claims, such as that the government investigated my claims and
decided that I was lying about everything. So now I'm hated in Turkey.
CD: That's crazy. But doesn't the media there know any better? I mean,
haven't they been focusing on your case for a long time?
SE: Yes, but for people with power and prestige such as Holmes, it's
easy to smear someone. As you know, sensitivities are very strong for both Turks
and Armenians on this issue. So ironically even if it [Hastert's alleged bribe-taking
and the Armenian genocide issue] was just a sidebar to the real focus of my
case, by connecting my name with the Hastert allegations, it just damaged my
credibility for Turks everywhere.
CD: This sounds like an absolute disaster.
SE: And it's just too bad, because none of this [my allegations] has
to do with the current government in Turkey.
CD: So do you mean the previous one was more corrupted, or involved
with these issues?
SE: I didn't say that. I just said that the current Turkish government
had nothing to do with any of these illegal activities I documented. But still
the campaign against me goes on in the media in Turkey. It's very sad.
Who's in Charge Here?
CD: That's terrible. I have some thoughts based on what you just said,
but first let's talk about something else. For us on the outside, it is very
hard to know what is really going on in the government. And with all
of the governmental manipulation and deceit that things like your case, as well
as the whole Iraq War deception, show, critical people have come to suspect
that the government is more often than not feeding us lies and working in our
worst interests. And you talk about good, honest agents as well as bad and criminal
So, that said – how can we explain the case of Larry Franklin?
SE: Do you mean how the case came about, or how it is being conducted?
CD: I want to say this: the Turkish lobby might be powerful, but the
Israeli lobby is by far the most powerful in Washington, at least with the current
administration. So considering that the pro-Israel neocons are in power, how
was it possible that this AIPAC investigation – which apparently started way
back in 1999 – could have continued all these years, and didn't end up getting
squashed like your investigation was?
SE: I don't know. But it will be interesting to see how far they pursue
it – whether they will be satisfied just to make an example out of the fairly
low-level guys they're looking at now, or want to keep going higher.
CD: When you were at the FBI, did you have any colleagues who were working
on this case, investigating the Israelis?
SE: Look, I think that that [the AIPAC investigation] ultimately involves
more than just Israelis – I am talking about countries, not a single
country here. Because despite however it may appear, this is not just
a simple matter of state espionage. If Fitzgerald and his team keep pulling,
really pulling, they are going to reel in much more than just a few guys spying
CD: A monster, 600-pound catfish, huh? So the Turkish and Israeli investigations
had some overlap?
SE: Essentially, there is only one investigation – a very big one, an
all-inclusive one. Completely by chance, I, a lowly translator, stumbled over
one piece of it.
But I can tell you there are a lot of people involved, a lot of ranking officials,
and a lot of illegal activities that include multi-billion-dollar drug-smuggling
operations, black-market nuclear sales to terrorists and unsavory regimes, you
name it. And of course a lot of people from abroad are involved. It's massive.
So to do this investigation, to really do it, they will have to look into everything.
CD: But you can start from anywhere –
SE: That's the beauty of it. You can start from the AIPAC angle. You
can start from the Plame case. You can start from my case. They all end up going
to the same place, and they revolve around the same nucleus of people. There
may be a lot of them, but it is one group. And they are very dangerous for all
State Department the Source of All Evil?
CD: I know you can't name names, but are there any government agencies
in particular that you can single out as being more corrupt or more involved
with the substance of your allegations?
SE: The Department of State.
CD: What, the most corrupt?
SE: The Department of State is easily the most corrupted of the major
CD: That's interesting. I sometimes think of the State Department as
being fairly emasculated, relatively speaking, of course not the "good
guys," but surely not as evil as certain other agencies… but you have some
personal experience that tells you otherwise?
SE: You asked me before about the good FBI agents and bad, which group
is really in control. I can tell you, in my case, the decision to terminate
the investigation and bury my allegations, this decision was not made by the
FBI. It came directly from the Department of State.
CD: Really! I didn't know they had the power to interfere with FBI work.
SE: Oh, of course they do! And the agent that handled the case I was
working on, that person was so frustrated. It was all stopped because the State
Department was dictating to us.
CD: So while John Ashcroft looked like the bad guy, for coming down
on you with the State Secrets Act –
SE: Look, according to Vanity Fair, in 1999 the FBI even wanted
to bring in a special prosecutor, to investigate – but guess what, after Bush
came to power, they pulled the plug. And how was this request thwarted? By direct
order of the Department of State!
CD: Wow. So what other powers did they have over you?
SE: In some cases where the FBI stumbles upon evidence of high-level
officials being involved in drug-smuggling, they're even prevented from sharing
it with the DEA [Drug Enforcement Agency]. The Department of State just comes
in and says, "Leave it."
You know, it's funny, after 9/11, the common criticism was that there was "no
information-sharing" between the FBI, CIA, and the like, and this is why
the terrorists pulled it off – as if we didn't want to cooperate. No information-sharing?
That's the biggest BS I ever heard!
CD: So you're saying that the whole process of sorting through the intelligence
you received, executing investigations, and getting information where it needed
to go was prevented by the State Department?
SE: Several times, yes.
CD: And again, because of the "sensitive foreign relations"
SE: Well, yes, obviously all of these high-level criminal operations
involve working with foreign people, foreign countries, the outside world –
and to a certain extent these relations do depend on the continuation of criminal
Countries to Consider
CD: Can you elaborate here on what countries you mean?
SE: It's interesting, in one of my interviews, they say "Turkish
countries," but I believe they meant Turkic countries – that is, Turkey,
Azerbaijan, and all the 'Stans, including Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and [non-Turkic
countries like] Afghanistan and Pakistan. All of these countries play a big
part in the sort of things I have been talking about.
CD: What, you mean drug-smuggling?
SE: Among other things. Yes, that is a major part of it. It's amazing
that in this whole "war on terror" thing, no one ever talks about
these issues. No one asks questions about these countries – questions like,
"OK, how much of their GDP depends on drugs?"
CD: But of course, you're not implying…
SE: And then to compare that little survey with what countries we've
been putting military bases in –
CD: I'm shocked! Shocked, I tell you!
SE: You know how they always talk about these Islamic charities funding
the terrorists, right?
SE: Well, and this is not a firm statistic, just a sort of ratio… but
these charities are responsible for maybe 10 or 20 percent of al-Qaeda's fundraising.
So where is the other 80 or 90 percent coming from? People, it's not so difficult!
How It All Works
CD: So tell me something, say, in the case of drugs from Central Asia
to Europe to America. When they come through Turkey, what is the procedure?
SE: Well, I am not an expert on this. I know some of it gets to be processed
in Turkey and travels in the Balkans. I know Holland is very important. But
you might know better than me, being over there. I only know from this end,
in North America.
CD: Okay, so when the drugs –
SE: Not only drugs.
CD: Okay, so when whatever kinds of criminal contraband enter the U.S.,
then what happens to it?
SE: They are circulated by huge front companies. Of course, these companies
often have a legitimate side to their businesses; maybe even the majority of
their business is aboveboard. In this way, they arouse less suspicion. Say if
it was, I don't know, a textiles company in Delaware. The stuff comes into port,
and when it comes off the boat they open it up, and –
CD: "Hey, great, more textiles!" Something like that?
SE: Sure. And then it gets sent everywhere, through other companies
in other cities, other front companies under different owners or even different
branches of the same company. They could be anywhere, Denver, Detroit, San Diego,
and everywhere in between.
CD: It sounds very sophisticated.
SE: Oh, it's so sophisticated and so big, you can't imagine…
and not only can they bring the stuff in, they can send it out. And do you think
for a second the government doesn't know?
CD: Can you give any specific examples of such an operation?
SE: Well, not from my case, but there is quite a lot of public information
about such things. A good example was the piece in the L.A. Times –
black-market nuclear parts one?
SE: Yes, by Josh Meyer. From last year. That article gives a very good
example of how such a scheme works.
CD: But that report came out of an official government investigation
taking apart the smuggling ring, right?
SE: Yes it did, but that doesn't mean the business was ended.
SE: I think one of the guys involved, Asher Karni, got a short sentence.
But the other guy, the big guy, Zeki Bilmen? He got off completely – nothing.
SE: It's beyond logical explanation. Maybe it was decided in high places
that no one would touch him.
CD: And we're talking about people who are trading in nuclear black-market
goods with terrorists and countries like Pakistan?
SE: And anyone else who's willing to pay, for that matter. Zeki Bilmen
is Turkish, but of Jewish background. He has a company, Giza Technologies in
New Jersey, and everyone who works there is Turkish. He's worked closely with
the Israelis. And business – well, business is good.
They have many shipments going out, coming in, all day long. To places like
Dubai, Spain, South Africa, Turkey. They have branches in all these places.
Yep, they're sailing along very smoothly.
CD: So if we are talking about suspected nuclear proliferators here,
how can the government be protecting them when at the same time they're talking
about Iran or North Korea having nuclear weapons?
SE: Exactly! You tell me!
CD: It must be very frustrating for you, not to be able to speak about
what you know.
SE: Yeah, really, it's so frustrating.
CD: So since you are still gagged, is there anything you hope for, aside
from getting heard before the Supreme Court? I mean, is there anything people
SE: I hope that if anything comes of this new media attention, they
[congressmen] might say, "You know what, one name is out there already,"
and maybe people will start to say the others.
Because enough people in Congress know who is involved and what the stakes
are. It's not necessary for me to do it; any number of people can step forward.
They just need to be a little more brave, and – yes, more patriotic. Because
like I told you before, these kind of criminal acts some of our leaders are
involved in do not have any benefit for 99.9 percent of the American people.
And in fact they're actually very harmful for American and world security.
CD: So what do you hope for from the media? I mean, I know you suggested
the media should concentrate on the State Secrets aspect rather than the "poor
whistleblower" one. That's clear. But of course we would love to know more
details, even general ones.
For example, can you give any kind of insight into where to look? I know some
of these "semi-legitimate organizations" you've mentioned and how
they operate. You discussed that at length in our first interview. But what
about individuals? What is the profile of your average high-level crook?
SE: Well, you can piece things together fairly well, I think, and not
just from what I have to say. A lot of information is already out there. Things
like the L.A. Times article I mentioned, they give a lot of context.
But generally, look at what we discussed here.
CD: You mean where such officials are to be found?
SE: Yes. Watch the Department of State. Watch people who are involved
with the countries I mentioned above. Watch their careers, where they were stationed,
what jobs they held, what were their areas of expertise, where these interests
overlap. Were they involved with weapons procurement ever? Would anything in
their resumé indicate knowledge of and experience in not one, but several
of these countries I have mentioned?
Because you know, it is not very often you can find someone with the requisite
linguistic and cultural training necessary for working with several countries
simultaneously, as well as the acumen and right mindset for these kinds of adventures.
There can't be many.
Look out for the organizations they're involved in. Look at where these memberships
overlap. Two major lobby groups that have come out in one way or another have
been the American-Turkish Council and AIPAC. They're not the only ones, but
you can start with them. Look at their members, their leaders past and present.
Look at where these names overlap with the qualities I mentioned above.
CD: Yes, that is good for background, but at the end of the day to have
anything "real" it basically has to come down to what the guy had
for breakfast that day.
I mean, even the Vanity Fair "revelation" had to admit that
there was no way of proving Hastert was ever given $500,000 to scupper the Armenian
genocide bill. So obviously he could just laugh it off. It ended on a very deflationary
SE: Yes, you have a point. But making specific charges in specific cases,
no one in the media can ever do that without explicit evidence from someone
very close to the investigation or activity.
What I am telling you is that this network is visible, and it is possible to
grasp what's going on. And I think to a certain extent it's obvious that some
of your neocons will be involved in these criminal activities. You don't need
me to tell you that. But too often, they [the media] have looked in the wrong
CD: An example?
SE: Well, I'm wondering why in this "war on terror" they aren't
taking a look at the role of banks in Dubai, banks in Cyprus – they've always
concentrated on banks in places like, say, Switzerland. They almost never look
at these two other huge areas for money-laundering.
CD: Finally, Sibel, I was curious to ask you one sort of hypothetical
CD: Do you ever look back and wish you had done things differently?
I mean, maybe you could have "played dumb" and stuck around a couple
months longer in the FBI, and collected more "smoking gun" evidence,
no? Like in some action/suspense movie.
SE: This is a very interesting question. But you know, I didn't have
the luxury to think about it. I didn't have time to make a conscious decision.
SE: Well, the biggest reason I started to talk and to push for an internal
investigation was because my family was already under threat.
CD: You are referring to the period after you refused Can Dickerson's
offer to work with her illegally?
SE: Yes. I knew that the [Turkish] person under investigation had already
been given all my details, and at that point they were trying to make problems
for my younger sister back in Turkey. And Senator [Chuck] Grassley was helping
us to get asylum for her.
CD: So basically, my question is irrelevant.
SE: Well, how can you play it cool when your family is under threat?
CD: Indeed. So finally, even despite the total obstruction you have
faced just to be able to get your day in court, do you feel like it has been
worthwhile? And that there is something still that can be done to change things?
SE: Yes. I believe, and everyone who is concerned about their safety
and security should know it is in their best interests to get this information
out and let the chips fall where they may. And since this level of crime is
so massive, it doesn't affect only Americans – people in many countries have
an interest in this too. The stakes are too high for us to stop fighting now.