Who Wants To Gag Sibel Edmonds, And Why? (With Answers!)
I was explaining the Sibel Edmonds' case to a friend, and she asked a good question:
"Do we have a good sense about why the FBI didn't want to pursue this investigation?"
The short answer is "Yeah, mostly" - I'll lay out what we know, and then we'll discuss some possible complications/wrinkles to the narrative.
Sibel has repeatedly emphasized that much of what she learnt was the result of FBI Counter-Intelligence (CI) programs - and a large component of CI is simply monitoring places like embassies, and groups like AIPAC and the American Turkish Council (ATC).
We know that CI was conducting ongoing monitoring of these groups, and by all accounts it would be a breach of duty not to do so - that's why there's such a body of documented evidence in Sibel's case. We know that embassies are 'protected' space (legally, I don't think they are actually on "US soil" - or some similar concoction) - and any nefarious activity that is uncovered there can't be acted on - however, once the activity extends beyond an embassy, then it falls within the purview of the FBI. Vanity Fair reported that there were many phone calls discussing illegal activity between the Turkish Embassy and the (non-'protected') ATC which ought to mean that the case becomes actionable.
When CI discovers such illegal activity, they are supposed to hand the case over to the relevant division at the FBI - e.g. Counterterrorism (CT), narcotics, criminal etc. As Sibel repeatedly states, in her case(s) this never happened. (Remember that Sibel's cases include drug-running, terrorism, public corruption, nuclear black market & illegal arms trafficking.)
For example, in Sibel's Hijacking of a Nation, Part 2, she writes:
"For years and years, information and evidence being collected by the counterintelligence operations of certain U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies has been prevented from being transferred to criminal and narcotics divisions, and from being shared with the Drug Enforcement Agency and others with prosecutorial power."
(as an aside, it's interesting here that Sibel is saying that the problem extends beyond the FBI, she is apparently saying that CI investigations by the CIA are buried in the same manner. We know that the CIA's cover company, Brewster Jennings, was also investigating the ATC.)
In Sibel's open letter to Thomas Kean and the 911 Commission, she also notes that even when CI uncovers relevant information pertaining to terrorism, say the 911 attacks, that information isn't handed over to the counterterrorism branch at the FBI. As I understand it, CI had relevant information pertaining to 911, and they didn't hand it over to CT, even after the attacks.
Why didn't counterintelligence hand these cases to the relevant bodies?
In Sibel's letter to the 911 Commission, she writes:
"If counterintelligence receives information about terrorism that implicates certain nations, semi-legit organizations or the politically powerful in this country, then that information is not shared with counterterrorism, regardless of the consequences."
In other words, CI (under pressure) is protecting:
- Certain nations - Turkey, and probably Israel, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and some of the 'Stans.
- Semi-legit organizations - the American Turkish Council, Assembly of Turkish American Associations (and others), and probably AIPAC.
- Politically powerful - Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Eric Edelman, Marc Grossman and Dennis Hastert - and probably Paul Wolfowitz, Bob Livingston, Stephen Solarz and others.
Who is pressuring CI to not move on the cases?
In Sibel's letter to the 911 Commission, she writes "In certain cases, frustrated FBI agents have cited "direct pressure by the State Department."" In an interview with Chris Deliso, Sibel states "The Department of State is easily the most corrupted of the major government agencies."
Not only was the State Department ensuring that none of these cases were acted on, they were also in charge of shutting down all aspects of Sibel's case, with guidance from the Pentagon. As ex-CIA agent Phil Giraldi notes in Kill The Messenger, the recent movie about Sibel's case:
The 'State Secret Privilege' was invoked not by the FBI but by the Pentagon and the State Department!
Apparently the State Department can dictate to the Dept of Justice, as well as the FBI, as Sibel relates in Gagged But Not Dead:
The attorney general cites two reasons to justify the unconstitutional, panic-driven assault on me. Reason one: to protect certain diplomatic relations – not named since our officials are obviously ashamed to admit to these relations. Reason two: to protect certain U.S. business interests.
Let's take each one and dissect it (I have given up on our mass media to do that for us!). Since when is the Department of Justice in the business of protecting U.S. diplomatic relations? They appear to be acting as a mouthpiece for the State Department. Now that's one entity that has strong reasons to cover up what will end up being considered a mammoth blunder. It is the American people and their outrage they must be worried about; they wouldn't want to have a few of their top officials held criminally liable; would they?
As for reason two, I can assure you that the U.S. foreign business relations they may be referring to are not among those that benefit the majority of the American people. But the American people's security and best interests are being sacrificed for a handful of military-industrial entities and their lobbying arms. And since when are nuclear black market activities considered legitimate business, one may wonder?
In other words, for those of you who might think that the State Dept might have legitimate reasons for burying investigations in order to maintain diplomatic relations, that's not what is going on here.
Why would the State Department facilitate criminal activity?
Because the people involved are criminals.
As Vanity Fair reported,
"According to (Sibel's) later secure testimony, in one conversation... a Turkish official spoke directly to a U.S. State Department staffer. They suggested that the State Department staffer would send a representative at an appointed time to the American-Turkish Council office, at 1111 14th St. NW, where he would be given $7,000 in cash. "She told us she’d heard mention of exchanges of information, dead drops—that kind of thing," a congressional source says. "It was mostly money in exchange for secrets...
...Yet another (conversation) implied that Turkish groups had been installing doctoral students at U.S. research institutions in order to acquire information about black market nuclear weapons. In fact, much of what Edmonds reportedly heard seemed to concern not state espionage but criminal activity..."
Daniel Ellsberg was more explicit:
"there's a great deal of dealing of information in illicit arms trades including, (Sibel) says, nuclear information, from our nuclear weapons labs - for which cold cash is paid - to people in the labs, and to people, she says, to people in the State Department - who have essentially given 'OKs' for various trades, or have turned a blind eye - deliberately - to it."
Former Deputy Secretary of State, Marc Grossman, apparently was a key player in the criminal enterprise. When he left State in 2005, he immediately began earning the big bucks - more than $2 million p.a. Sibel argues that this payoff was for selling his soul, and selling out the national interest while he was in office.
Possible Complications to the Narrative
At the top of this post, I mentioned that there are some wrinkles/complications to "why the FBI didn't want to pursue this investigation?" - I'll outline them here.
FBI Translation Unit
We know that the FBI Translation Unit didn't even have any Turkish translators until Sibel joined immediately after 911. This is somewhat surprising given Turkey's " importance in the areas of terrorism, money laundering, illegal arms sales, industrial and military espionage, and the nuclear black-market." Occasionally the Translation Unit would temporarily borrow a Turkish translator from elsewhere, say, the Pentagon or the State Dept, to translate documents & wiretaps for them. I presume this was seen as a feature, not a bug.
We also know that the FBI Translation Unit was infiltrated by 'enemy elements' no later than November 2001. We also know that three-quarters of Sibel's translation work was retrospective - translating (and 're-translating') stuff going back to 1996.
It is conceivable, therefore, that the Translation Unit was actually compromised much earlier than 2001, and that CI simply wasn't even getting (some of) the important, relevant translations. That is, perhaps a partial explanation of why CI didn't move on these cases is because they simply weren't receiving (some of) the damning evidence.
In March 2007, new evidence was released by a Special Agent Gilbert Graham from the Turkish counterintelligence program (the same program that Sibel was working on) indicating that many of the wiretaps that Sibel translated were illegally acquired. FBI headquarters and senior Justice Department officials had illegally arranged FISA warrants (designed to be used on foreigners) to spy on matters of domestic public corruption. According to James Bamford, the case involved people "in the Turkish government, there were people involved in Turkish lobbies, people involved in the Bush administration, high officials in the Bush administration who were getting payoffs, getting money."
According the the NSWBC, "Graham blew the whistle (in 2002) on this illegal behavior, but the actions were covered up by the Department of Justice and the Attorney General’s office."
The story can become a little bit complicated, but the short version is that a) the FBI was spying illegally b) the illegal spying uncovered massive criminality c) nobody did anything about a) or b)
We aren't exactly sure why the FBI was spying illegally - but maybe it was because the FBI was blackmailing the targets of the investigations. As Sibel states:
"Another troubling aspect of this new case is the fact that we don't know what they did with this information that they obtained illegally. Obviously they did not transfer it to the criminal division to be investigated – so what did they do with this information? Based on what we are getting from our sources, and these are people who have recently left the Bureau, it would not be illogical to actually consider the fact that the Bureau and the Justice Department may be using this information to actually blackmail people within Congress."
It's a felony to use FISA warrants to to conduct domestic investigations - so it appears we have an imperfect storm where nobody wants any of the information to become public. Here's Sibel, again:
"Everybody was happy in the end because on one hand you have corrupt congressional representatives – several of them, and they know who they are and they know about this case. Then, you have people in the State Department – you have at least one individual within the State Department – you have two or three individuals within the Pentagon and you also have certain well-known lobbyists. So this was a case where the Justice Department didn't want their own illegal actions, in terms of conducting these wiretap operations, to be known – so they had their own reason of quashing this thing and basically wanting to cover it up via the State Secrets Privilege.
You had the State Department wanting to have it covered up, you had the Pentagon, and then also you had the Congress not having the reason, the motivation – which should be representing the American people and fulfilling their obligations to the American people – not wanting to touch the case because it's a controversial case."
There was one element of Sibel's case that nearly resulted in charges. Dennis Hastert is accused of taking bribes a variety of bribes. In 1999, the Clinton Administration actually asked the Department of Justice to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate Hastert. The process got derailed with the impeachment hearings, and instead of Hastert going to prison, he ended up as Speaker. Ashcroft closed the case in 2001 when Sibel started kicking up a storm. Sibel has direct first hand documented evidence of this, but Hastert is essentially a distraction from the main issues in Sibel's case.
If you look at the details of the AIPAC case (Franklin, and Rosen & Weissman) you quickly see that the investigation began at some point before 1999, but there wasn't any activity till Franklin waltzed onto the scene in 2003. An argument can plausibly be made, therefore, that it isn't unusual for a case of this nature to be stuck in CI for years. However, as Sibel explains, the AIPAC investigation was actually a "sister operation" to the investigation into the ATC - in other words, the same people were being investigated, the same issues were involved, and, undoubtedly, the State Department and the Pentagon was inflicting the same pressure.
One thing is for sure - open public hearings by Henry Waxman would certianly clear up many outstanding questions, and would put many of the guilty parties in prison. Sibel guarantees it.
As you know, we've been demanding that Waxman hold hearings - details at Let Sibel Edmonds Speak. It will only take a day or two - as she says:
"It's not a case (that needs) to be investigated, that part has already been done by the Senate Judiciary Committee, by the DoJ's Inspector Generals office, so it just have to have a hearing and just put an end to it and see some oversight and accountability as a result."
And given the nature of Sibel's work, all of her claims are backed up by documented proof. Sibel has issued a challenge:
"Put out those tapes. Put out those wiretaps. Put out those documents. Put out the truth. The truth is going to hurt them. The truth is going to set me free."
As I mentioned yesterday, at some point later this week, we will have some new content being released, and when that gets published, we'll start with the phones again - calling Waxman's office demanding hearings. We'll need your help.