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March 2, 2005

FBI Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds to Testify Before Congress for First Time Wednesday

WASHINGTON - Sibel Edmonds, who was fired after exposing national security concerns at the FBI, will testify before Congress for the first time Wednesday.

Edmonds, a former Middle Eastern language specialist for the FBI, will share her story with members of the House Committee on Government Reform's Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations. The hearing will focus on the emerging threats of over-classification and pseudo-classification. Edmonds will testify about the government's excessive use of classification to cover up its own misconduct in her case. The hearing will be at 1 p.m. at the Rayburn House Office Building, in room 2154.

The hearing comes on the heels of a Justice Department decision last week to make public information about Edmonds' case that it had previously retroactively classified. The information has gone through a series of classification flip-flops that started in May 2004, when the department retroactively classified information about Edmonds' case that the FBI had provided to Congress in public briefings.

Edmonds, hired by the FBI shortly after 9/11, was fired after reporting shoddy translation work and national security breaches within the agency. She challenged her retaliatory dismissal by filing a law suit in federal court, but her case was dismissed last July after Attorney General John Ashcroft invoked the so-called "state secrets privilege." The Justice Department apparently decided to retroactively classify the Congressional briefings not to protect national security but to bolster its "state secrets" claim. The ACLU is representing Edmonds in her appeal.

An executive summary of the Justice Department's Inspector General report into her termination concluded that Edmonds was fired for reporting the misconduct, and that such treatment would discourage federal employees from speaking up about potential security risks.

The ACLU said that the Edmonds case is part of a larger pattern by the government to silence employees who expose national security blunders. Coleen Rowley, Manny Johnson, Robert Woo, Ray McGovern, Mel Goodman, Bogdan Dzakovic, and Mike German are just a few of the other national security whistleblowers who were vilified and retaliated against.

Henry Waxman, a California Democrat and the ranking minority member on the House Committee on Government Reform, asked Edmonds to testify at the hearing Wednesday. A witness list for the hearing is attached.

For a web feature on the Sibel Edmonds case and more information on national security whistleblowers, go to http://www.aclu.org/whistleblower.

Details on the hearing:

WHAT: A House Committee on Government Reform subcommittee hearing on over-classification and pseudo-classification

WHO: FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds will testify at the hearing

WHEN: Wednesday, March 2, 2005, 1 p.m.

WHERE: Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2154

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Sibel Edmonds began working for the FBI shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks. Until the spring of 2002 she worked in the FBI's Washington field office translating top-secret documents pertaining to suspected terrorists. She first gained wide public attention in October of that year when she appeared on '60 Minutes' on CBS and charged that the FBI, State Department, and Pentagon had been infiltrated by agents of a Turkish intelligence officer suspected of ties to terrorism. She also accused members of the FBI's translation services of sabotage, intimidation, corruption and incompetence. On October 18, 2002, at the request of FBI Director Robert Mueller, Attorney General Ashcroft imposed a gag order on Ms. Edmonds, citing possible damage to diplomatic relations or national security.

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