WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI contract linguist who
was terminated in 2002 after becoming a whistleblower regarding the 9/11 tragedy,
today filed the most detailed lawsuit to date outlining her allegations. The complaint,
filed under the Federal Torts Claims Act (FTCA), reveals for the first time details
surrounding Ms. Edmonds' interactions with a former FBI colleague who raised suspicions
by her perceived efforts to recruit the Edmonds into at least two Turkish organizations.
Also disclosed are the names of those within the FBI who went out of their way
to undercut Ms. Edmonds' concerns.
"With Sibel's prior litigation wrapped in secrecy by the government, this
case will reveal for the first time the full extent of wrongdoing by the FBI,
drawn entirely from its own internal investigation and unclassified sources,"
said Roy W. Krieger, of the Washington, D.C., law firm of Krieger & Zaid,
PLLC, which specializes in national security cases and represents Edmonds. Anticipating
the government's response, Krieger added that "the assertion of the state-secrets
privilege in this case would be manifestly disingenuous because everything Sibel
needs to prove in court in order to win is already stated in her complaint. Nothing
Ms. Edmonds' allegations of wrongdoing within the FBI translation unit were the
subject of a two-year investigation by the Department of Justice's Office of Inspector
General (DOJ OIG). On July 21, 2004, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III, notified
the Senate Judiciary Committee that the DOJ OIG had completed its investigation
and concluded that Edmonds' allegations "were at least a contributing factor"
in her firing. Additionally, Director Mueller noted that DOJ Inspector General
Glenn Fine also concluded that the FBI failed to "adequately pursue"
Edmonds' allegations of espionage against a co-worker. The 100-page report was
classified secret in its entirety.
However, in January 2005, the Justice Department released an unclassified summary
of its classified OIG report. Contrary to the statements issued by Director
Mueller, the DOJ OIG conclusions were far more damning. Mr. Fine's investigation
found that many of Ms. Edmonds' accusations "were supported, that the FBI
did not take them seriously enough, and that her allegations were, in fact,
the most significant factor in the FBI's decision to terminate her services."
"To date, not a single person in the FBI has been held accountable or criminally
prosecuted despite public confirmation by the Inspector General's Office and
members of Congress that wrongdoing occurred. Unless, and until, those responsible
are held accountable, no corrective action will be taken within the FBI, and
the security of our nation will continue to suffer," said Sibel Edmonds.
Edmonds' efforts to expose the FBI's misconduct and the retaliation she has
suffered have been plagued by the government's zealous and excessive classification
of information. Although Edmonds' specific allegations were the subject of several
unclassified congressional meetings held in 2002, the Justice Department refused
to allow her to discuss the information. In June 2004, the FBI notified all
staff members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that the information was now
considered classified. The FBI's move, allegedly at the behest of the Justice
Department to enhance the government's legal position, prompted Senators Grassley
and Leahy to remove two of their letters regarding Edmonds from their public
Web sites. According to the e-mail notification, the government took this action
because of "civil litigation in which the FBI is seeking to quash certain
information." The two letters were subsequently declassified.
"The FBI has done nothing but cover up its own incompetence and wrongdoing
throughout its efforts to unconscionably and unlawfully silence Ms. Edmonds
through excessive secrecy," said Mark S. Zaid, who serves as co-counsel
to Ms. Edmonds. Unfortunately, to date, the courts have been unwilling to challenge
the executive branch's actions, and it has become imperative for Congress to
step up to the plate, added Zaid.
Edmonds, who speaks several foreign languages, started working for the FBI immediately
after the 9/11 attacks as a translator in the FBI's Washington field office
with top-secret security clearance. She was summarily dismissed in March 2002
after alleging that the FBI's translation services were plagued by incompetence,
a lack of urgency, numerous security breaches, and intentional efforts by some
FBI officials to withhold information from investigators. The FBI ignored her
repeated efforts to raise these concerns with superiors. Edmonds, who recently
testified before Congress, provided closed-door testimony to the 9/11 Commission
and is cited in its final report.
In July 2004, a federal judge dismissed Edmonds' primary lawsuit against the
FBI on the basis of the rarely invoked "state-secrets privilege."
The case is presently on appeal before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and
oral arguments are set for April 21, 2005. The American Civil Liberties Union
serves as co-counsel in that case. This is the fourth lawsuit Ms. Edmonds has
filed. In addition to the FTCA and termination cases, Ms. Edmonds has also filed
two lawsuits under the Freedom of Information/Privacy Acts. Further information
regarding Ms. Edmonds and the litigation can be reviewed at her Web